Yorkshire have not played against Northamptonshire in the County Championship since 2014 so there will be a fresh feel to this fixture. The midland county became the competition’s 16th county when it joined in 1905 but did not appear on Yorkshire’s fixture list until three years later. Paul Dyson looks back at a game from the early part of the last century. The photo of Wilfred Rhodes comes courtesy of Mick Pope.
July 20, 21, 22, 1911 at Northampton: Northamptonshire 316 (WH Denton 69, HS Snell 52, W Rhodes 8-92) & 118 (W Rhodes 6-47); Yorkshire 250 (D Denton 59, W East 4-53, W Wells 4-82) & 140 (GJ Thompson 5-45). Northamptonshire won by 44 runs.
Northamptonshire were now in their seventh season in the County Championship and their highest position thus far had been seventh in 1909; this was the only occasion on which they had finished in the top half of the table. Although Yorkshire’s completely different record had shown that they had already won the title on eight occasions, the two counties were in close proximity at the end of the 1910 season – the campaign prior to this game – Northamptonshire having finished in ninth place with their opponents just one place above. These forms were not being continued into 1911, however. The hosts had played 13 games thus far, winning five and losing seven but Yorkshire had had a winning-streak of eight consecutive victories and had by now won a total of 11 and lost only three of their 17 matches. (Each side’s lack of draws can easily be explained – it was the fourth-best summer in the whole of the 20th century.)
In keeping with what was typical of the era for the weaker counties Northamptonshire were fielding five amateurs in their team wheras Yorkshire had none. This was not typical either in that there was usually one amateur – the captain, but George Hirst was standing in for Everard Radcliffe. He lost the toss and opened the bowling but could not make the required breakthrough, the opening stand being worth 87. Wilfred Rhodes was the fifth bowler to be used and it was he who eventually took the first wicket, in fact the first three, including William Denton, ‘who combined admirable placing with sound defence’, for 69. (Wisden) There was later a good stand, of 88, for the fifth wicket between George Thompson, who was one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1906, and Harold Snell who made a half century and was playing in the only Championship match of his career. Unfortunately Yorkshire’s fielding let them down, four catches being dropped, and the hosts’ consistent batting took them to a total of 316. Rhodes bowled 35% ov the overs, persevered admirably and finished with eight for 92. The day ended with Yorkshire reaching 17 for no wicket.