An enterprising innings transformed a game at Trent Bridge almost 70 years ago and Paul Dyson takes a look back at this particular match. The photo of Ted Lester walking out to bat on his home ground of Scarborough appears by courtesy of Mick Pope.

July 19, 21, 22, 1952 at Trent Bridge: Nottinghamshire 333 (J Hardstaff 98, RT Simpson 69, FW Stocks 52, JH Wardle 5-66) & 191 (R Giles 55, DB Close 6-69, JH Wardle 4-59); Yorkshire 492 (EI Lester 178, W Watson 97, WHH Sutcliffe 63, DB Close 52*) & 33-4. Yorkshire won by six wickets.

Although many counties had to re-build their squads after the ravages of the Second World War, Yorkshire, on the face of it, appeared to have been hit less than most. In the six seasons since 1945 the county had finished lower than in fourth place only once and had already won the title (in 1946) and shared it (in 1949). Nottinghamshire, on the other hand, had never been higher than in 11th place in these six seasons and had ended 1951, the season prior to the one in which this game took place, bottom of the table.

Both counties began 1952 in similar forms to those of the recent years. Nottinmghamshire had won only one of their first 16 matches and lost six. In contrast Yorkshire had won nine of their first 17 games and lost only two. This game clashed with a Test match against India so Yorkshire were without Len Hutton, in his first series as England captain, and Fred Trueman, who was in his first summer as a Test cricketer.

The hosts won the toss, decided to bat and the visitors found Reg Simpson ‘in delightful form’ (Wisden); he struck 13 boundaries in his 69 which came while only 22 runs were being scored at the other end. A brief collapse saw the total slip to 108 for four but Joe Hardstaff ‘played a patient innings’ (Ibid.) of 98, sharing a stand of 114 with Fred Stocks (52). Johnny Wardle took the wickets of all of the three highest-scorers and eventually finished with five for 66 but it was Brian Close who took the final two wickets to end a brief flurry from the tail. Yorkshire ended the day on 12 for no wicket, 321 runs behind.

Day two saw a feast of run-making, Yorkshire scoring 436 runs in the day. The makeshift opening pair both fell early but Ted Lester joined Billy Sutcliffe and the pair shared 130 in rapid time. Lester was indulging in some ‘fierce hitting’ (Ibid.) and he and the like-minded Willie Watson added 210 in only 110 minutes. Lester struck two sixes and 26 fours in his 230-minute 178 but when he and Watson, who was dismissed when only three short of a century, fell in close proximity, four wickets fell for only 16. Close then ‘scored freely’ (Ibid.), and Yorkshire closed on 448 for seven.

An image of Lauren Winfield-Hill and Adil Rashid, with the Yorkshire logo and Northern Diamonds logo in the middle

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