HomeInsightEmerging cricket one hundred years ago

Emerging cricket one hundred years ago

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A century ago the world was recovering from a War to End All Wars and a global influenza pandemic, but outside the ICC’s then three members the game was thriving in many countries and territories around the world.

In New Zealand in January, Wellington beat Auckland by 105 runs at the Basin Reserve to claim the Plunkett Shield, Syd Hiddleston making 144 and Stan Brice taking six for 64 and seven for 112, while among New Zealand’s minor associations Poverty Bay, having beaten Wanganui, surrendered the Hawke Cup to Wairarapa after leading by 49 on the first innings.

In another future Test country, Wanderers beat Pickwick by 358 runs to take the Barbados club championship, but the timeless match took seven playing days, spread over six weeks; Wanderers could thank G Challenor, who made 206, for setting up their victory.

Another double-century came in February in the annual North-South match in Argentina, Philip Foy hitting 217 for the North to guide them to a first-innings lead of 246. Following on, the South reached 353 for seven, thanks to 109 from Carlos Mold.

March in Ceylon saw the Ceylonese beat the Europeans by an innings and 4 runs, while in Penang the Straits Settlements beat the Federated Malay States by 4 wickets.

Hong Kong visited Shanghai in May and lost to their hosts by an innings and 160 runs. Former Hampshire batsman Edward Barrett made 165 for Shanghai, and William O’Hara claimed seven for 26 and six for 62.

Philadelphia Cricket Club (c1884)

In the summer of 1921 there was plenty of cricket in Canada and the United States. No fewer than 23 teams contested the Toronto and District League, Grace Church beating Northern in the final, and there were league competitions in British Columbia, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Western Ontario, Sault St Marie and Montréal as well.

Philadelphia remained the heartland of American cricket, but there were also thriving leagues in New York, Massachusetts and California.

There were cross-border visits, too: Buffalo (New York) played in Toronto in July, WG Green making 118 out of 211 for five declared for Rosemount in a drawn match against the tourists, and in September Philadelphia had the better of a drawn match against Eastern Canada at the historic St Martin’s ground in Philadelphia.

Towards the end of July the Philadelphia Pilgrims, a touring side, embarked on a twelve-match tour of England. It proved something of a personal triumph for John Evans, who hit 124 against the Gentlemen of Essex, 112 against the Army and 125 against Incogniti; Samuel Mifflin had the best bowling performance with seven for 49 against the Royal Navy.

Scotland visited Ireland for their annual first-class encounter, a series instituted in 1909, and had the worse of a draw; they were dismissed for 109, Bill Harrington taking four for 26 for the home side, and Ireland replied with 186, Gilbert Hole who had top-scored in Scotland’s innings, picking up four for 41. The Scots were struggling on 42 for six (in 41 overs!) when the match ended.

Warwick Armstong, Australia captain, in 1921

Warwick Armstrong’s Australians played three matches in Scotland in July, and although the superiority of the tourists was never in doubt – they had, after all, already won the Test series against England with three crushing victories – Scottish captain John Kerr revealed his quality as an opener with an unbeaten 60 in the second innings at the North Inch in Perth, following it up with 147 at Edinburgh’s Raeburn Place two days later.

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In September Nottinghamshire played four games against club sides from the Western Union league; they were untroubled in beating Ayr, Uddingston and Kelburne, and drew with Greenock after taking a narrow first-innings lead.

In the Netherlands the Free Foresters made the first of what would be many visits, and although the Dutch lost by 6 wickets Dé Kessler enjoyed considerable personal success; he took seven for 109 in the Foresters’ first-innings of 349, Kent batsman Sam Day making 105, and then hit 51 out of the home side’s first-innings total of 233.

Following on, the Netherlands were dismissed for 173, and the tourists were fairly untroubled in knocking off the required runs.

In the Straits Settlements, meanwhile, Singapore CC were winning a local five-team league, and in October Shanghai travelled to Japan, beating Kobe and Yokohama; skipper Edward Barrett again excelled with the bat, making 52 in the first game and 82 and 57 not out in the second, while for Yokohama AL Piper made 91 in the second innings.

Yokohama and Kobe also played each other in a three-day match which the former won by 210 runs; the highlight was a knock of 127 by NB Forrest in Yokohama’s second innings, setting up the victory.

The Argentina cricket team of 1921
Argentina national cricket team in 1921. This was the team which defeated Brazil in a match played in Hurlingham, Buenos Aires.

In British India cricket was still largely organised on communal lines: in Karachi in September the Hindus, having beaten the Parsees in a semi-final, led the Rest, semi-final victors over the Muslims, by just 5 runs in a drawn final of the Sind Quadrangular tournament.

The Europeans won the Bombay Quadrangular in November, beating the Hindus and the Parsees, both by an innings; they were greatly helped by having Wilfred Rhodes (as well as George Hirst and CB Fry) in their side, since Rhodes made 156 and took seven for 26 against the Hindus, and followed that up with 183, five for 26 and seven for 33 against the Parsees.

In the Caribbean Wilton St Hill, perhaps the finest West Indian batsman of his generation, made 104 as Trinidad beat British Guiana by an innings and 80 runs; the Trinidadians were also too strong for Barbados, whom they beat on the first-innings of the Triangular tournament in Port of Spain, Herman Griffith taking seven for 38 for Barbados.

The year ended with Brazil engaged on a ten-match visit to Argentina, which included three two-day matches between the national sides.

The Argentines won the series 2-nil, with Hutchinson Smyth making 300 runs at an average of 60.00, including 129 in the final, drawn game, and Foy the leading wicket-taker with 21 wickets at 10.90.

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Rod Lyall
Retired academic, now a journalist and commentator, mainly covering Dutch international and domestic cricket.

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