Hampshire Cricket History

1961: The Verdict (Part One)
February 21, 2021, 8:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Wisden, as usual, published a set of statistics about each county over the Championship season. They identified two main sets of figures: the average runs per wicket scored by each county and the average runs per wicket conceded by each county. The batting figures show the five south-eastern sides occupying the top five positions: Surrey (30.30 runs per wicket); Middlesex (29.58); Sussex (28.16); Kent (27.83), and Hampshire (27.77). By contrast Hampshire were the only one of those sides to feature in the top five bowling sides: Yorkshire (20.44 runs per wicket); Worcestershire (21.53); Leicestershire (21.78); Hampshire (23.49); Gloucestershire (23.57). Hampshire’s two returns made them one of eight sides with a ‘positive’ figure, and the top four led, with Yorkshire best at 6.37, followed by Middlesex 4.92; Hampshire 4.28; and Worcestershire 2.74.

What might such figures suggest – might pitches have any impact? Both Surrey and Middlesex the top two batting sides played home matches on Test Match grounds apart from Surrey v Sussex at Guildford. Bottom club Nottinghamshire played three games at Worksop and the other 11 at Trent Bridge and Warwickshire played 13 at Edgbaston, two at Coventry and one at Nuneaton. Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Sussex and Worcestershire, like Hampshire, used four home grounds, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire had five and Somerset seven, while the main ‘wanderers’ were Essex, Glamorgan and Kent with eight; Essex visiting Chelmsford just once and Kent not going to Canterbury until the traditional August match v Hampshire.

The leading wicket-takers Yorkshire also moved around, starting at Hull, then on to Headingley, Sheffield, Middlesborough, Harrogate, Bradford and Scarborough. In the 16 matches on those grounds only one side, top-scoring Surrey, passed 280 in a completed innings, when they posted 394-6 and 152-4 in a drawn match. Of the 25 completed innings played by their opponents on Yorkshire’s home grounds, 20 ended with a score below 200, and 11 below 150. Scores were generally lower in 1961 than they are in four-day matches today but in Yorkshire’s home matches they were particularly low. Yorkshire won nine home matches and eight away but on their trips the opposition sometimes made higher scores, three times above 300 (including Surrey again) and six times above 250. Interestingly, while Yorkshire’s wickets came most cheaply, they took only one more wicket than Hampshire through the season (535:534) and Derek Shackleton with 153 Championship wickets was the season’s leading wicket-taker, 14 more than runner-up Jack Flavell (Worcestershire). Among the batsmen, Somerset’s Bill Alley was the season’s top scorer followed by Roy Marshall, and only those two plus Henry Horton and MJK Smith passed 2,000 runs, with Jimmy Gray just 50 runs short of that target.

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Many years ago I read John Arlott’s biography of Fred Truman. In it he said that Yorkshire had little chance in the 1961 Championship due to the amount of time they lost to the weather. However an examination of the results rather discredits this idea.

Hampshire drew six games in 1961. Four of these lasted 330 overs or more and went deep into the fourth innings. In the match away to Kent 299 overs were played. Hampshire batted first and declared at 300/6 after 99 overs. Kent replied with 369 in 117 overs and then Hampshire scored 165 in 83 overs. Kent would have needed 97 to win but did not start thier second innings.

The other Hampshire draw was in the first game of the season at home to Worcester where only 200 overs were played in which Worcester scored 208 all out and Hampshire were 217/5. While of course anything can happen in a cricket match Hampshire would have probably won if there had been three full days of play.

Yorkshire had ten draws. Six of these lasted 325 overs or more. In the match at home to Kent 261 overs were played and Yorkshire were 116/8 in the fourth innings chasing 217 so
Yorkshire had little chance of winning. The game at Somerset lasted 251 overs with scores of Yorkshire 232/8 and 161/2, Somerset 259/6 so it is difficult to say what would have happened with three full days of play.

In the game at home to Glamorgan 201 overs were played. Yorkshire had a first innings lead of 108 and a second innings score of 56/0. Only 162 overs were possible in the home Roses match. Yorkshire declared immediately after getting the first innings lead but only two further overs were possible. Three full days play in these games might well have have seen two Yorkshire wins.

However even if Yorkshire had got these wins this still would have not been enough to win the Championship in the first 31 games so the final Hampshire v Yorkshire game would have been the Championship decider. Presumably Hamphire would have had a quieter evening on 1st Sept and not been so relaxed during the following game.

Comment by Colin Price

Excellent! Thanks Colin. Wisden 200 reported on 20th century summer weather in England, revealing that the 1960s was the wettest, coldest and least sunny decade. If that weather had inhibited Yorkshire they probably would not have won the title in 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967 or 1968.

Comment by pompeypop

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