It is time for another variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme. Today I introduce you to a squad of record setters. While most of them had extraordinary careers, the records I have chosen to highlight were usually established over a few matches or a season, with one and a bit exceptions. As usual with one of my XIs I have been selecting it as a team as well as a collection of individuals, so it encapsulates a broad range of talents.
THE RECORD SETTERS XI
- *WG Grace – I have selected him for two extraordinary purple patches, not his overall career record, although that too is extraordinary. In his last 11 matches of the 1874 season, at the start of which no one had ever achieved the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches, he achieved that double. These 11 matches, capping an already fine season, included a spectacular burst of six games in which he scored a century and took 10 or more wickets five times, managing a 10 wicket haul in the other game but only one run. Before this the dual feat had been accomplished only seven times, four of them by WG himself. In August 1876 he scored 839 runs in three successive first class knocks – 344 for MCC v Kent, 177 for Gloucestershire v Nottinghamshire and 318 not out for Gloucestershire v Yorkshire.
- Tom Hayward – the Cambridgeshire born Surrey opener achieved a feat the to this day remains his alone – he scored twin centuries in each of two successive first class games, all four centuries being scored in the space of a week.
- Frank Woolley – the Kent left handed all rounder is the only one who is selected for a record achieved over the duration of a career – he alone achieved the career ‘treble’ of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches in first class cricket. He is joint record holder (with his captain in this XI, WG Grace) of the record number of 1,000 run seasons, 28. He achieved the ‘batting all rounders double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets in a first class season on four occasions, which is also a record.
- Denis Compton – the Middlesex ace holds the record aggregate for first class runs in a seaon and first class centuries in a season, 3,816 and 18 respectively, both set in 1947. He also scored the fastest ever first class triple century, 181 minutes in Benoni.
- James Horace Parks – the Sussex batting all rounder is given his full name because his son, also a James Parks, played for Sussex as a middle order batter and sometimes wicket keeper. In 1937 he achieved a feat that is likely to remain his alone by combing 3,000 runs (3,003) with 100 wickets (101) in the first class season. His grandson Bobby kept wicket for Hampshire in the 1980s, but as yet there has been no sign of a fourth generation of first class cricketing Parkses to draw them level with the Cowdreys.
- George Hirst – the Yorkshire all rounder has a unique season double to his credit – in 1906 he scored 2,385 first class runs and captured 208 first class wickets, the only 2,000 run, 200 wicket double ever achieved in a first class season. Against Somerset at Bath that season he had a match that was a microcosm of his season – centuries in both of this sides innings and five-fors in both of the opposition teams innings, a unique match ‘quadruple’.
- +Leslie Ames – the ‘wicket keeper’s double’ of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals in first class matches for the season has been achieved four times in first class history, and the first three occasions were all by the Kent man, including in 1929 a record season haul for a keeper of 128 dismissals (79 caught, 49 stumped).
- Richard Hadlee – in 1969 the English first class season was drastically reduced to make room for the John Player League, a 40 overs per side competition (part of the definition of a first class game is that must run to at least three days, which is why Alastair Cook’s 2005 double century against the Aussies does not feature in his first class record – that was a two day game), and further changes since then have continued to reduce the number of first class fixtures played. The first of only two players to achieve the 1,000 runs, 100 wickets double for a season post 1969 was the Kiwi right arm fast bowler and left handed attacking batter, an overseas stalwart for Nottinghamshire over many years, in 1984. He planned his campaign that year with a thoroughness that would have left most generals blushing, assessing exactly what he reckoned he needed to do and which opponents he could do it against, and it worked out more or less according to his script. He wrote a book, “At The Double”, which came out in 1985 and detailed his extraordinary assault on the history books. Hadlee also has the best test innings figures ever recorded by a fast bowler, 9-52 against Australia, in the first test series that New Zealand ever won against their trans-Tasman rivals (the eighth Aussie dissmissed in that innings, Geoff ‘Henry’ Lawson, attempted to attack spinner Vaughan Brown and succeeded only in offering a dolly catch, which Hadlee, a possible all ten not withstanding, coolly accepted).
- Charles ‘The Terror’ Turner – the Aussie took 283 first class wickets on the 1884 tour of England, a record for any tourist anywhere, and in 1887-8 became the first and only bowler to take 100 first class wickets in an Australian season.
- Tich Freeman – the 5’2″ Kent leg spinner took 304 first class wickets in the 1928 season, the all time record (he also has numbers 2,3 and 5 on the list, and six of the 13 occasions on which a bowler has taken 250 first class wickets in a season were his. Freeman also stands alone in achieving three first class ‘all tens’.
- Tom Richardson – the Surrey fast bowler, who took more wickets in a season than any other of his pace – 290 in 1894 was his best haul.
This is a beautifully balanced XI, with depth in batting (even Turner and Freeman had records that included test fifties), a bowling attack that is rich in both numbers and variety, with speedsters Richardson and Hadlee being backed an off spin/ cut bowler in Turner, a leggie in Freeman, a left arm orthodox spinner (Woolley), a left arm unorthodox spinner (Compton) plus Hirst’s left arm pace and swing and the far from negligible bowling offerings of Grace and Parks, and Hayward’s medium pace sometimes had its moments – only Ames would definitely not get a turn at the bowling crease (though even that could be arranged – WG deputized as keeper in test matches on occasions, once enabling the official glove man, the Hon Alffred Lyttelton to collect 4-19 bowling lobs!).
Within my brief (record setting, but over a few matches or a season, rather than a career, with an exception made for Woolley), the most obvious miss was Jim Laker, the Surrey off spinner who holds the record for most wickets in a first class game (19-90 v Australia at Old Trafford in 1956), while, as mentioned by Woolley in “King of Games”, had things gone a bit differently when Kent played Northamptonshire in 1907 Blythe would have had an unassailable case for inclusion with the only ‘all twenty’ in first class history to his credit. Maurice Tate and Albert Trott each had seasons in which they scored 1,000 first class runs and took 200 first class wickets. Don Bradman holds the record average for an English first class season, 115.66 in 1938. Geoffrey Boycott twice averaged over 100 for a full English season, but in both cases his side fell down the table (nine whole places to a then historic low of 13th in 1971), while Hirst’s annus mirabilis saw Yorkshire finish second to Kent, the single run by which they lost to Gloucestershire being the biggest small margin in cricket’s history until the final of the 2019 Men’s World Cup. Brian Lara holds the world record individual scores in both test and first class cricket, but both of those scores, and his earlier 375 v England in 1994 came in drawn games which never really looked like being anything else. Syd Barnes’ 49 wickets in the series against South Africa in 1913-4, missing the last game after a dispute over terms and conditions, was an extraordinary feat. George Giffen’s match for South Australia v Victoria in which he scored 271 not out, and then took 7-70 amd 9-96 nearly earned him a place.
I end this section by reminding folks that I am selecting XIs, not full squads or even tour parties, and that I endeavour to ensure that each side has a good balance to it, both of which need to be borne in mind when suggesting changes.
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Another XI has trodden the aspi.blog boards, but before signing off in my usual fashion I have a couple of other things to do. First, Gabrielle Blair has posted a wonderful twitter thread on the theme of “protecting one’s family”, taking aim at the obsession some of compatriots have with guns, which she then turned into a blog post on her site, designmom. I urge to read it.
Second, in a couple of my recent posts I have drawn attention to my mother’s new blog (see here and here), well now it is my father’s turn. He has set up a blog called morethanalittlefoxed, in which he writes about books. He has begun an A-Z series, and as a starter I offer you his D entry, “D is for Frances Isabella Duberly” (he has reached the letter E, but shrewd wordpressers will realize that by picking out the D I have given visitors three posts that are no more than two clicks away – ‘previous post’ and ‘next post’ being available when they exist.
Finally it is time for the usual sign off…