A Rare Finish to a Great GameMartin Chandler |
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
If Martin Tebay is not to be persuaded otherwise there are, after this one, only two more booklets in his Red Rose Cricket Records series to come. This is a great pity because he has already demonstrated, in his choice of subjects so far, that many more are possible.
So we will have to make the most of these while we have them and this one, whilst it celebrates some important individual achievements, is ultimately about a team performance, and Lancashire’s first ever tie. Perhaps surprisingly there have only ever been four. The last is still fresh in the memory, against Somerset at Taunton in 2018. There were two in the immediate post war years and then this one, way back in 1894, and only the ninth tie in the history of the First Class game.
The venue of the match was Kennington Oval, and Lancashire’s opponents were therefore Surrey. There was no play on the first day, and after that a low scoring match ebbed and flowed. There was never much to choose between the sides, but at various stages both had their noses in front.
Bowlers generally hold sway in this sort of game, and four of the game’s biggest names put the batsmen under the cosh. For Lancashire left arm spinner Johnny Briggs’ match figures were 13-93 and, with 6-95, he was supported by the pace of Arthur Mold. For Surrey quick bowlers Tom Richardson (8-78) and Bill Lockwood (9-78) did most of the damage.
No batsman on either side managed a half century and, interestingly, the two batsman who got closest were not the star performers. For Surrey England men Robert Abel, Tom Hayward, William Brockwell and Walter Read were playing, but it was Alfred Street, a professional who drifted out of the game at 28, who made 48 in the first innings.
Lancashire too had England batsmen in their line up, in their case three of them, Archie MacLaren, Albert Ward and Frank Sugg. But for the Red Rose it was an amateur named Sidney Tindall who got within a single of his 50. Tindall’s record is not even as good as Street’s very modest one, and based on the photograph of him that Martin Tebay has found the reader has to wonder how he ever managed to hit the ball off the square.
As always in this series Martin has consulted plenty of contemporary reports in order to reconstruct an exciting match, and found some interesting images, but he has also done something a little different. He concludes his account by reproducing the content of a letter written by a Lancashire supporter to the editor of The Sporting Life which is, to say the least, critical of the umpires, albeit it did occur to me that the correspondent’s tongue might have been firmly planted in his cheek when preparing his missive.
As with previous booklets in the series then are only thirty copies of this one available, so for anyone interested early ordering from the Red Rose Books website is strongly recommended.