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The lowest winning first-innings totals in the County Championship

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County_Cricket_EnglandDefending champions Essex’s unbeaten run in the County Championship, which stretched back to September 2016, was brought to a halt by Yorkshire in incredible fashion in their fourth-round Division One fixture at the County Ground in Chelmsford. Despite being shot out for 50 in their first innings, the visitors engineered a stunning comeback to secure a 91-run win on the third day, admirably overturning a first-innings deficit of 92 to set Essex a challenging target of 238.

This is the sixth lowest winning first-innings total by any team in the 128-year history of the County Championship, and the second lowest by Yorkshire. Here is a look back at the five totals that were even lower, yet were enough to achieve victory.

Note: this list takes only the first innings of the match into consideration; otherwise, the lowest ever total to win a county match (or for that matter, any first-class match) is 15, by Hampshire in their first innings (the second innings of the match) against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1922.

31 by Gloucestershire v Middlesex, Bristol, 1924

Middlesex’s opening pair of Nigel Haig (6/11) and Frederick Durston (4/18) bowled unchanged to send Gloucestershire crashing towards an embarrassing total of 31. The last eight wickets fell for only ten runs, and no batsman reached double figures. By the end of the day, Middlesex themselves were knocked over for 74, with slow left-armer Charlie Parker (7/30) scalping the illustrious trio of Patsy Hendren, Gubby Allen and captain Frank Mann to record a hat-trick.

The second day belonged to the great Walter Hammond, who was then aged 21 and yet to debut for England. Hammond turned the game around with a classic 174*, which enabled his captain Douglas Robinson to declare at 294/9. Set 252 to win, Middlesex ran into Parker (7/101) again, who became only the fourth bowler to take two hat-tricks in a first-class match, this time the victims being Mann, John Guise and Haig. Middlesex eventually subsided to a 61-run defeat.

42 by Yorkshire v Sussex, Hove, 1922

Yorkshire was assured of their 11th title by the time they arrived at Hove for their penultimate game. Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe put on 18 for the first wicket, which would turn out to be the highest stand of the innings. Maurice Tate and Henry Roberts bowled unchanged, sharing the spoils with 5/20 each, to condemn the visitors to 42. Yorkshire bounced back through seamer George Macaulay (4/29) and slow left-armer Roy Kilner (4/30), and limited the deficit to 53.

Holmes and Sutcliffe (who top-scored with 48) seized the initiative by sharing 76 in the second innings, which enabled Yorkshire to produce a much better display with the willow. Sussex had time on their side as they set about chasing their target of 176, but had no answer to the wiles of the legendary slow left-armer Wilfred Rhodes, who was still going strong at nearly 45. Rhodes’ spell of 6/13 induced a meltdown from 69/3 to 83 all out, leaving Yorkshire victors by 92 runs.

44 by Derbyshire v Gloucestershire, Bristol, 2010

Derbyshire finished the 2010 season at the bottom of the pile in Division Two, but had the satisfaction of finishing on the right side of this extraordinary encounter at Bristol. New Zealand’s left-arm paceman James Franklin wrought havoc on the opening day, grabbing 7/14 as Derbyshire were bundled out for 44. It could have been worse had South Africa’s Robin Peterson not top-scored with 15 from number six, as the scoreboard read a deplorable 9/6 at one stage.

Gloucestershire fell to 30/4 in reply, before Hamish Marshall (45) steadied the innings. Steffan Jones (4/26) ran through the tail, as the last four wickets added only seven runs, bringing the innings to a close at 156. Derbyshire’s second innings of 236 was built around an unbeaten 96 from Chesney Hughes, who kept former Zimbabwe fast bowler Anthony Ireland (4/59) at bay.

The visitors’ pace quartet, led by Tim Groenewald (4/22) and Graham Wagg (3/31), tigerishly defended the modest lead of 124. Except for Marshall, who waged a lone battle with 44, none of the Gloucestershire batsmen showed the required application. By the time Marshall was ninth out with the score at 58, the writing was on the wall. Two overs later, Jonathan Clare castled Ireland to confirm a stunning 54-run win for Derbyshire. The entire match lasted only 148.5 overs.

47 by Nottinghamshire v Kent, Maidstone, 1894

Nottinghamshire prevailed in one of the most intriguing duels of the 1894 season, which was played out at Mote Park. The left-right pace combination of Frederick Martin (4/11) and Walter Hearne (5/29) handed Kent the initial advantage by bowling the visitors out for a measly 47. William Attewell (4/41) then made timely inroads into Kent’s batting line-up, ensuring their total was restricted to 110. Thomas Perkin held fort with a patient knock of 45 from number three.

Hearne was all over Nottinghamshire in the second innings as well, taking 7/43 this time. Only Billy Gunn (49) displayed defiance, and with a target of only 66, the game was Kent’s to lose. Attewell (3/28) made an impact again, but the real damage was inflicted by off-spinner Wilfred Flowers. The 37-year-old ran through the middle and lower order to return 7/24, then his best figures in first-class cricket. A shell-shocked Kent were destroyed for 52 in front of their home crowd.

49 by Lancashire v Glamorgan, Liverpool, 1924

Glamorgan had themselves to blame as they let Lancashire romp home by 128 runs at Aigburth, despite having them on the mat early in the game. Fast bowler Helm Spencer stole the show for the Welsh county, taking 5/9 as Lancashire were dismissed for 49 – the last five wickets falling for two runs. Glamorgan’s joy was short-lived though, as ace spinner Cecil Parkin (6/6), with the right-arm slow bowling of Dick Tyldesley (4/16) for company, extinguished them for just 22.

The opportunity to dictate terms was gone, as Glamorgan saw the Lancastrian openers, Harry Makepeace (41) and Charlie Hallows (49), build a partnership that yielded 107. David Davies (4/43) pulled things back a bit, but Lancashire had the luxury of declaring at 208/8, thereby setting Glamorgan 236. Once again, the top order caved in to Parkin (4/30) and Tyldesley (3/37). Jack Mercer, who came in at 44/7, scored a valiant 45*, but it only delayed the inevitable.

 

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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