Worcestershire has hosted Yorkshire at four different grounds since it was admitted to the County Championship in 1899. The great majority of Yorkshire’s away matches have been at Worcester but there have also been visits to Dudley, Kidderminster and Stourbridge. Paul Dyson takes a look back at one of the games at one of these lesser-known grounds.
May 16, 18, 19, 1936 at Stourbridge: Worcestershire 148 (H Verity 5-48, EP Robinson 4-81) & 92 (H Verity 8-40); Yorkshire 123 (PF Jackson 4-18, SH Martin 4-34) & 106 (R Howorth 5-21, PF Jackson 5-66). Worcestershire won by 11 runs.
Yorkshire had possibly the greatest team in their history. They had just won four of the last five County Championships and had won the title in nine of the 17 seasons since the First World War. Their opponents in this match had finished in 12th place in 1935, had experienced three consecutive wooden-spoons in the 1920s and not been above tenth position since 1911. However both counties came into this match on level terms with Worcestershire (two) and Yorkshire (one) having drawn their opening fixtures.
Charles Lyttleton won the toss for the hosts and decided to bat. This was despite the fact that there had been a thunderstorm and the ground was now bathed in sunshine. He came in with the scoreboard showing 36 for two but stood helpless while two more wickets fell for a mere two runs. Worcestershire’s policy was to attack, as if they thought that the conditions meant that they would soon lose their wickets anyway. Yorkshire’s opening bowlers were given only four overs before spinners Hedley Verity (slow left arm) and Ellis Robinson (off breaks) were unleashed. Lyttleton stood firm to make 48 and share 50 for the fifth wicket with Dick Howorth but these were the highest score and stand of the innings. Verity ripped out the middle order to finish with five for 48 – which included four sixes – before Robinson mopped up the tail to end up with four for 81, having earlier suffered some punishment from Lyttleton. Worcestershire, having made only 148 (an innings which contained 11 sixes), then also used their spinners early in Yorkshire’s reply but it was the fast-medium bowling of Reg Perks which claimed the wicket of Herbert Sutcliffe and the visitors closed on 61 for two.
The start of the second day saw Yorkshire’s batsmen faring even worse than those of their hosts. Just 11 runs were added and then the remaining eight wickets fell for 51 runs. Arthur Mitchell top-scored with 34 and it was the off-spin of Percy Jackson (four for 18 in 16 overs) and the medium pace of Sidney Martin (four for 34) which were mainly responsible for giving Worcestershire a 25-run lead. They did not make the best of it, however, and made the lowest total of the match thus far, totalling a dismal 92. Their last seven wickets went down for 31 and Verity was almost entirely responsible for the demise, his astonishing figures of 26.4-15-40-8 (13 for 88 in the match) helping to keep Yorkshire’s victory target to no more than 118. That they should achieve this in some comfort was borne by the fact that by close of play the score was 63 for two and, therefore, more than half the required runs had already been scored. That day’s spectators had seen 20 wickets fall and 217 runs scored.
But that was certainly not how things worked out on the final day. Five runs were added before Jackson took three wickets while the total remained on 68. Maurice Leyland was standing firm at one end, despite the crumbling pitch, but Howorth was proving difficult to score from and once he had departed for 35, after an hour’s courageous batting, the remaining batsmen had no answer and Yorkshire had lost by 11 runs. Howorth finished with five for 21 from 15 overs while Jackson took five for 66. What had been an enthralling game had concluded in Worcestershire’s first victory over Yorkshire since 1909.
Yorkshire ended the season with only two defeats but their lack of wins allowed Derbyshire to take the title for what remains the only occasion in their history. Middlesex were in second place with Yorkshire third. Worcestershire, as they had in 1935, finished in 12th place.
Man of the Match
Possibly the greatest in Yorkshire’s long line of left-arm spin bowlers, Hedley Verity, was in the top three in the national County Championship averages in all of his ten seasons in the first-class game and dismissed Don Bradman more times in Tests than any other bowler. He also holds one world record which is likely never to be beaten.