Yorkshire have played in Hampshire on five different grounds. There have been two in Southampton (Northlands Road and the Ageas Bowl), as well as those at Basingstoke and Portsmouth but Paul Dyson looks back at a match at Bournemouth’s Dean Park ground. The photo of Ellis Robinson appears courtesy of Mick Pope.
August 25, 26, 1948 at Bournemouth: Hampshire 71 (EP Robinson 6-25, JH Wardle 4-29) & 176; Yorkshire 135 (W Watson 50, CJ Knott 6-60) & 114-0 (L Hutton 76). Yorkshire won by ten wickets.*
In 1946 Yorkshire won its 22nd County Championship and finished in seventh place in the following season. Hampshire, however, had yet to win the title; their best season had been in 1914 when they had finished in fifth place. In the two seasons following the Second World War their positions had been 10th and 16th (out of 17). Coming into this match, however, the two counties had similar results. Hampshire had won nine and lost lost six of its 24 games whereas Yorkshire had won ten and lost three of its 24. With every county playing 26 matches this game, part of Yorkshire’s traditional end-of-season southern tour, was each side’s penultimate game of the campaign.
The game was to start on a ‘drying pitch’ (Wisden) so Brian Sellers, coming out of retirement to deputise for Norman Yardley, sent the hosts in to bat. In Hampshire’s first innings almost 75% of the overs were bowled by Yorkshire’s two spinners and they took all ten wickets, dismissing the southern county for a mere 71, only three batsmen reaching double figures. The off-spin of Ellis Robinson was responsible for six of the wickets – for 25 runs; during one spell he took five wickets while conceding only nine runs. Wardle, with his contrasting left-arm spin had figures of four for 29.
The visitors did not find batting straightforward either and slipped to 61 for six. Willie Watson, however, ‘batted steadily’ (Ibid.), held the innings together with a composed half-century and Yorkshire’s lead was eventually 64. Hampshire’s skipper Neil McCorkell employed only two bowlers throughout the entire innings. Charles Knott bowled off-spin and, like Robinson’s similar bowling-type, he took six wickets though much more expensively. The other bowler used was Jim Bailey and he took two for 66 (there were two run-outs); with his left-arm spin he contrasted like Wardle but only bowled in an orthodox manner whereas his northern counterpart often utiliased wrist-spin.
Alec Coxon took the match’s first wicket to fall to a pace bowler and the hosts began to find batting a little easier. They wiped off the deficit, losing only three wickets in the process, and finished the day, on which 25 wickets had fallen, on 80 for five. The second day started with a stand of 46 – the highest of the match so far – but Yorkshire’s bowlers chipped away at the Hampshire batting and left themselves with a target of 113. The four bowlers used shared the overs and wickets much more equally than had been the case in the first innings.
Len Hutton, who had made a duck in the first innings, was in ‘his best form’ (Ibid.) and stroked his way to 76 not out. His partner, Geoffrey Keighley, scored 36 not out and Yorkshire had won by ten wickets.
Both Hampshire and Yorkshire lost their last game of the season, but both improved their final standings on their 1947 positions. Hampshire moved up seven places to ninth and Yorkshire moved up three places to fourth.
Man of the Match
It was Ellis Robinson, with a total of eight wickets, who enabled Yorkshire to establish a firm grip on this encounter and who was the real match-winner. He was one of many players whose best years were lost to the Second World War, his Yorkshire career starting in 1934 and concluding in 1949 – the year after the match described above. In fact the best two seasons of his career, as if to emphasise the fact, were in 1939 and 1946.