Hampshire Cricket History


Now & Then
February 27, 2021, 3:30 pm
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I’m a member of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians who tend to play a significant part in how (and why) statistics are presented as they are. They even have a ‘Stats-Log’ sub group that considers new ideas and challenges and this year that includes how to report the statistical information from the new competition.

I’m sorry to report that some of you will be disappointed to learn that they don’t propose to describe these non-county matches as taking 16.4 overs per innings, but they are currently considering a number of issues, including:

  1. If the matches are treated as 20 x five-ball overs should all stats and records be part of the same group as T20. The key point here is that Test and first-class records from the distant past don’t distinguish between four, five, six and eight-ball overs, so there’s no issue around including five and six-ball overs in the same records
  2. Should team totals be described as from 20 overs or 100 balls – and should scoreboards show a ‘count-down’ from 100 balls rather than overs bowled?
  3. How best to record bowling performances? Perhaps Balls – Dot Balls – Runs – Wickets? Linked to that should averages for batsmen and bowlers be shown as they are currently or in both cases as Strike Rates – and if so, should bowlers strike rates be average runs conceded per every five balls or perhaps % dot balls?

Once ACS (and therefore Cricket Archive) have decided will there be one consistent approach on other sites, Wisden, newspapers, magazines, broadcast media etc?

And for those of you more interested in the History of the game:

2022 will be the 250th Anniversary of what is now acknowledged as the inaugural First-Class match played anywhere in the world – Hampshire v England at Broadhalfpenny Down, Hambledon, on 24 & 25 June 1772, which Hampshire won by 53 runs – and there were incidentally four-ball overs. John Small top-scored with 78 in a game in which scores were even lower than this week’s Test Match – there are no bowling figures or dismissal information. (There has been a suggestion that the 23rd should have been the first day, but it rained. No one has been able to confirm this).

There will be various events to mark and celebrate this historic event.



Fidel & James
February 27, 2021, 7:52 am
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Thanks to Jo for alerting us to Fidel’s inclusion in the West Indies T20 squad – who said it was a game for young men? In five seasons with Hampshire he played in just 11 matches in the T20, although he did play for Warwickshire on loan in 2019

Speaking of young men, two weeks from his 30th birthday James Vince is in fine form in the short (but no longer shortest) form. In Australia and Pakistan his most recent scores have been 46, 98*, 95, 16 and 84. He made ten T20 scores of 80(+) in his first 231 innings and has added three more in his last four innings. On the other hand, he hasn’t played any first-class cricket for almost 18 months.



If this Test was in the Championship
February 25, 2021, 12:23 pm
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(Think Taunton, September 2019)

There would be a points fine – perhaps in this case imposing the suspended fine from the previous match.

There’s no question that the Indian spinners have exploited the surface brilliantly but it is perhaps in equal parts farce and tragedy – and once again we won’t get five (four, three?) days of cricket

While the ECB can impose sanctions on counties because they control the purse strings, no one will dare to take action against India. But a points fine would jeopardise their chances of reaching the World Test Championship.



In a Spin
February 24, 2021, 10:55 am
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This is only the second Day/Night Test ever played in India

In the first (v Bangladesh) only one of the 28 wickets fell to spin

This morning, before lunch, three have gone to spin and one to pace.

PS Later? ‘No Comment’



1961: Postscript (Part Two)
February 24, 2021, 8:23 am
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The final part of our tribute to the men of 60 years ago:

Hampshire’s Championship winning side soon began to break-up. Jimmy Gray had a very fine season in 1962 then played only one more full year before moving into teaching. Leo Harrison took a coaching role after the 1962 season while Heath and Baldry left that year and Burden followed after playing just three games in 1963. Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie retired after the 1965 season and one year later, struggling financially, Hampshire parted with Mike Barnard and the still-young Alan Wassell. Henry Horton retired in 1967 and that left just one more full Championship season for Derek Shackleton, although he played the first year of the Sunday League. By 1973 when Hampshire won the title again, only Peter Sainsbury remained – Hampshire’s unique ‘double champion’.

Among the new players to arrive at Hampshire in the 1960s was South African batsman Barry Richards in 1968, their first signing under the new regulations allowing the instant registration of overseas players without affecting their rights to play Test cricket. Gordon Greenidge born in Barbados but raised for some years in Reading was already playing for the 2nd XI and would ‘qualify’ by residence in 1970 to launch the great partnership. By then we were into the second season of the new Sunday League sponsored by John Player and following the introduction of Sunday play in the Championship a couple of years earlier. In 1972 a new weekend mini-league/knock-out competition, the Benson & Hedges Cup was launched and county cricket was changed for ever.

While Hampshire were winning that first title in 1961, a young left-handed batsman at Charterhouse School topped their averages (52.64) and played for the Southern Schools v the Rest at Lord’s. In 1962, he was back on the ground, playing for the Public Schools in their annual meeting with the Combined Services and eleven years after that Richard Gilliat followed Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie in captaining a Hampshire side to the County Championship. Despite second places in 1985 and 2005 we are still waiting for number three.



No Abbott
February 23, 2021, 11:57 am
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I have of course been glued to my screen checking out the signings for the Southern Softies and other 16.4 sides. I note that Mason Crane has signed for London again but this year Kyle Abbott is not with him. It adds to my doubts about his appearing in England in 2021.

PS I was going to add there are no South Africans, but spotted Kagiso Rabada signed for Manchester Munchkins.



1961: Postscript (Part One)
February 23, 2021, 11:31 am
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This is my penultimate 1961 entry – apart perhaps from some photos

POSTSCRIPT: BEYOND 1961

At the season’s end most of the Hampshire players went off to other jobs, reporting back for pre-season practice in the early spring. There were no 12-month contracts then, although with Trueman, Statham and Flavell declining to tour, ‘Butch’ White went to India & Pakistan, where ‘England’ played eight Test Matches; the tour, like all ‘England’ tours in those days still organised under the auspices of MCC. ‘Butch’ ended top of the tour bowling averages but struggled with injuries and played only two of the Tests against Pakistan. Those injury problems persisted during the 1962 English season, reducing his effectiveness somewhat and he took just 71 wickets – the only season through the decade when he failed to take at least 85; four times passing 100. These days, top pace bowlers seem to suffer more from injuries but perhaps those winter breaks were one key factor back then?

In 1963, Wisden published its centenary edition, reflecting mostly on the preceding English season, and number 100 was perhaps appropriately the last of the ‘old order’. Yorkshire albeit with six fewer victories than Hampshire in 1961, regained the title in 1962 with a victory over Glamorgan on the final afternoon, despite losing the whole of the second day to the rain. They overtook Worcestershire who nonetheless moved up to second place preceding back-to-back titles in 1964 & 1965. Hampshire fell to 10th, having drawn 19 games – the same number they had won in 1961. The Test series against Pakistan was rather dull, England winning four matches, with one drawn in the rain, which caused more general problems late in a season that Wisden described as “dull and cold”. There were five ‘no result’ Championship matches, as opposed to two in 1961.

There were significant changes looming for the 1963 season. Frank Worrell’s West Indian side who had recently played a thrilling series in Australia (including the first Tied Test) lit up a summer, matching the Beatles who came from ‘nowhere’ to dominate the world of entertainment. Cricket’s changes included the return to ‘uncovered’ pitches, the abolition of the distinction between amateurs and professionals and with that the end of the traditional matches between the Gentlemen and Players, and most significantly, the introduction of a one-day knock-out cup which would also be the first county competition with a named commercial sponsor – in this case Gillette. It began with just the 17 counties contesting 65-overs per side, and after a play-off between the bottom two sides in the 1962 Championship (Lancashire and Leicestershire), the 16 remaining teams were whittled down over three rounds before the two finalists met at Lord’s in early September. While we can see this as one of the most significant developments in the history of county cricket, it meant that in that first year, eight sides, including Hampshire, were knocked out in the first round proper in a mid-week match in May – and some of the losers played only away. The matches were played in white clothing with a red ball and no fielding restrictions, but a start had been made.

In the following season the competition added a round as the first-class counties were joined by the stronger Minor County sides, while the overs were reduced to 60 per side – but not necessarily an equal 12 per bowler. In 1963 the limit was 15 overs each; in 1964 it reduced to 13 and when Hampshire lost to Warwickshire that year, the winners used eight bowlers, with Ibadulla bowling 13 overs (3-43). The restriction to 12 overs each in a maximum of 60 was introduced in 1966 – and in the first of those matches for Hampshire, Peter Sainsbury recorded figures v Lincolnshire of 12-5-18-1. Hampshire won (Danny Livingstone 92).



The Turnstiles start Turning?
February 22, 2021, 3:51 pm
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If I heard it correctly, Boris has just announced that in Sports Stadia, turnstiles will open and admit people from 17 May, subject to limits on numbers. If so, that’s in time for the home Championship match v Leicestershire but after five matches home & away.

PLUS

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/56151863



1961: THE VERDICT (Part Two)
February 22, 2021, 8:52 am
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What did people make of Hampshire’s achievement? In the relatively new Playfair Cricket Monthly, Ron Roberts reported retrospectively on the County Championship in each edition. On the opening weeks in 1961, he noted that Yorkshire “set a cracking pace” and said nothing of Hampshire, while in the next edition he suggested Middlesex were “on Yorkshire’s Tail” – adding appropriately that Hampshire “in racing parlance” were “in a handy position, just inside the rails”. They were indeed, but his next report criticised “the farcical complications” of calculating when teams played different numbers of matches – some not playing everyone twice. He noted Worcestershire’s “prosperous” season but a pitch that was “apt to turn unreasonably early” and the impact of Leicestershire’s bonus payments for results but again said nothing of Hampshire – or indeed the top three. The October edition, which marked the end of the season opened with an editorial headline “Australia, coupled with the name of Hampshire” and described their success as being “like a breath of spring”, playfully praising their captain as a “rigid disciplinarian” for insisting the team should be “back in their hotel in time for breakfast”. Hampshire had been “a good and happy side” and tribute was added to Desmond Eagar “still driving Hampshire on with heart and mind”.

The magazine gave more than two illustrated pages to John Arlott who suggested “much that is superficial – and more than a little nonsense – has been written and spoken” about Hampshire’s achievement, noting that “perhaps the outstanding facet – yet the least remarked – lies in the fact that Hampshire is by far the poorest of the first-class counties”. He called it a county that has “existed for years on a shoe-string economy with a small staff” and praised coach Arthur Holt, suggesting, “Hampshire’s team-building emerges as a remarkable feat”. He praised the” ideal balance” of the side and of Ingleby-Mackenzie’s carefully calculated declarations suggested, “he will set a team runs they ought to get, and yet beat them”.

Arlott did not argue that man-for-man “Hampshire were a better team than Yorkshire or Middlesex” and noted presciently that the ageing members of the side had perhaps “reached their playing peaks” in 1961. Crucially, unlike the near misses in 1955 & 1958, when “Yorkshire and Middlesex faltered on the run in” Hampshire did not, winning the five successive matches that took them to the great day on 1 September, when “relief bubbled over in laughter”.

In the Daily Telegraph EW Swanton thought that “perhaps the outstanding characteristic … has been their form on the third day in any sort of tight situation. Whether batting or bowling, they have produced the goods and this is where morale and leadership come in”. The Times praised “the continual encouragement and valuable advice” of their “President of Presidents”, HS (Harry) Altham the fourth architect with Ingleby-Mackenzie, Eagar and Holt of the great achievement. Of Ingleby-Mackenzie they suggested he “has a zest for cricket which he can communicate to others” and “an old-world charm which … is a joy to meet”, along with a “friendly, keen and modest side”. In the immediate aftermath, even Yorkshire’s captain Vic Wilson praised their “splendid and entertaining cricket”.

In the following spring came evaluations that had taken time to mature. InThe Playfair Cricket Annual, Michael Melford suggested that Hampshire’s success had been “so widely lauded that there is little more to say” although he added “the victory owed much to the personality of the captain and the esprit de corps which he has instilled” although they required the “extra match-winning thrust” of, in particular, Marshall, Shackleton and White. He thought Yorkshire “did well to finish second in a season when possibly only Bolus of their batsmen “seemed to be fit and in form for long”, adding they “were not invincible”. He thought that with one more “really penetrative fast bowler” Middlesex “must have won easily” but their next great years were still more than a decade away. The Editor of Wisden, at a time when there was a constant plea for ‘Brighter Cricket’, praised Marshall as “one of the few enterprising opening batsmen in the country”, who could still play for England (he did not) and suggested that “one quality bowler in Derek Shackleton made the attack”, in a side “bound together by an ebullient captain”. He noted that Hampshire’s success “was extremely popular and rightly so” but there was sting of sorts in the tail as he concluded “apart from Marshall and the captain, much of their cricket was of the defensive type which is causing the authorities so much concern”. Around these years, Hampshire’s bowling and usually fine fielding was indeed difficult to dominate and over the course of 1961 in the 32 matches, Hampshire’s opponents scored at a rate of 2.53 runs per over, while Hampshire took a wicket every 9.28 overs. Over-rates were much better than they are today but with Hampshire in the field on average a side might be bowled out a little before the close for around 250. Not thrilling perhaps, but match – and title – winning cricket.



TV Test Match
February 21, 2021, 8:32 pm
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I’ve been scouring Radio Times from which it appears to me that this week’s Day/Night Test Match is not being shown live – at least not on Channel 4 or Sky Sports.

Am I right? I can see highlights on More 4 but live?