Together, We Are All Derbyshire: The first-class encounter which ended in a day

Friday 10th April 2020

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Jeff Tristram emailed about a County Championship game between Derbyshire and Somerset at Chesterfield in 1947 which ended in one day.

Jeff wrote; “Derbyshire beat Somerset and all three innings’ were completed in one day. Could this be a world first?

Our Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

First-class games completed in a single day are not that rare, although one should note the distinction between games which lasted only one day as a result of the weather (usually combined with agreements between captains), and those which followed the normal course of a game of cricket. The contrived games were always one innings games and therefore skew the overall figures for such matches.

Nonetheless, there have been 104 instances of a first-class game being completed in a single day, and Derbyshire’s win in 1947 was the 74th such instance, although this was the first fully completed such match since 1925 when Somerset were also the victims, losing inside a day (the scheduled second day) to Lancashire at old Trafford.

Derbyshire were also involved in three other completed games which only lasted a day, but all three were single innings matches; against Worcestershire at Chesterfield in 1977, against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1983, and against Somerset at Taunton in 1986.

However, the instances of a complete game without any contrivance are few, with the most recent example in the county game coming in 1960 when Kent defeated Worcestershire by an innings and 101 runs at Tunbridge Wells, Kent making 187 in 69 overs before dismissing the visitors for 25 and 61 in 43 overs.

The summer of 1947 was a gloriously sunny one, with South Africa touring, and Middlesex winning the county championship following a season-long battle with Gloucestershire.

Derbyshire had been one of the outstanding sides in the country during the immediate pre-war period, finishing in the top six for six consecutive seasons, winning the title in 1936.

By 1947, Eddie Gothard had taken on the captaincy at the age of 42, and he still had a strong bowling attack at his disposal. George Pope, one of the county’s finest all-rounders, and Bill Copson shared the new ball and with Cliff Gladwin formed arguably the best pace trio in the country.

AEG ‘Dusty’ Rhodes had begun bowling leg breaks – successfully – but the batting was not as strong as in the county’s heyday a decade and more earlier. Charlie Elliott and Arnold Townsend both passed 1,000 Championship runs, but Denis Smith and Stan Worthington were coming to the end of their illustrious careers and their runs output was down on previous seasons.

Derbyshire generally played on well-grassed pitches at home; their pace attack throughout history has generally been stronger than the batting line-up, and contemporary reports suggests that the pitch at Chesterfield in June 1947 offered the faster bowlers some help.

George Pope was innocuous to begin with – despite taking 6-34 in 21 overs as the visitors were dismissed for 68 – he conceded 24 runs before he took a wicket with Gladwin and Rhodes sharing the remaining wickets. Somerset’s innings occupied 41.2 overs.

Again, contemporary reports suggest that because the pitch was offering assistance to the bowlers, Patrick Vaulkhard – who struck three sixes in his 84  – and Elliott (46), in particular, attacked the Somerset bowlers with some gusto on the basis that attack was the best form of defence in the circumstances..

Derbyshire looked in a very strong position at 117-2 and again at 221-7, but the last three wickets only realised 10 runs as they were all out for 231 in 59.2 overs with Horace Hazell, a slow left-armer, taking 5-64 off 18 overs.

At this stage of the game, 100.4 overs had already been bowled, and lunch and tea taken, as Somerset began their second innings in the final session of the day. George Pope, having taken a career best 6-34 in the first innings, bettered that within a matter of hours, taking 7-16 as the visitors were routed for a mere 38 off 18.1 overs in the late evening.

Somerset were 14-6 at one stage before the highest partnership of the innings – just nine for the seventh wicket – and then eight not out from number 11 Hazell allowed them to reach their final total.

Pope’s match figures, 31.1-13-50-13 were scarcely believable and the best since Tommy Mitchell took 13-113 against Middlesex at Derby in 1934. His match return remains the fourteenth best in the county’s history. After conceding those 24 runs before taking his first wicket in the match, he then took 13-26. Truly astonishing figures.

Derbyshire’s final position in the championship table was fifth and their 11 wins had only previously been bettered four times – all consecutively between 1934 and 1937.

A footnote from the game came from captain Eddie Gothard who wrote in 1970 that; “It was a great win, but the only comment from the Secretary, MR WT Taylor was ‘we’ve lost two days gates.”

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