Essex first came to Yorkshire in 1892; it became a first-class county two years later and joined the County Championship in 1895. They first played at Dewsbury then visited Sheffield, Harrogate and Bradford (twice) as well as Halifax and Huddersfield before they arrived at Headingley in 1901. Paul Dyson (stats) and Nigel Pullan (text) look back at three previous visits by the 2017 County Champions who defeated Yorkshire decisively twice last season. The photo of Alec Coxon appears courtesy of Mick Pope.


June 17, 18: Yorkshire 252 (Lord Hawke 60, F Mitchell 52, W Mead 5-78), Essex 97 (S Haigh 5-23, W Rhodes 4-33) & 95 (W Rhodes 6-45). Yorkshire won by an innings and 60 runs.

Consulting the Willow Reprint of the 1902 Wisden it is learnt that it was raining in Leeds in June 1901. On the first day Essex bowled Yorkshire out for 252. Walter Mead took five for 78 and Harding Isaac Young three for 74. Essex were well placed at 61 for one but it rained in the night and Wisden says the bowling was unplayable next day. Essex were dismissed for 97 and 95 by George Hirst, Schofield Haigh and Wilfred Rhodes, the last-named having match figures of 10 for 78. Perhaps to make Scarborough 2017 a little less painful to Yorkshiremen, in the last match of 1901 Essex were bowled out at Leyton for 30 and 41 on another rain-damaged pitch. Hirst, “bowling at a great pace and swerving in an extraordinary way,” took seven for 12 and five for 17.

Essex in 1901 had three outstanding batsmen, three good county bowlers plus one then regarded as the fastest ever in county cricket. Percival Albert Perrin, known for some reason as Peter, was an amateur who made over 1,000 runs in a season 18 times. Apparently he was not chosen for England because he was heavy footed and slow in the field and was then described as the best batsman never to play for England. His deep knowledge of cricket led to him becoming Chairman of the Test Selectors. Perrin’s career-best was 343 not out at Chesterfield in a match which Derbyshire actually won. Alongside Perrin was Charlie McGahey. Perrin was 6ft 3in and McGahey 6 ft 2in and they made a formidable opening partnership as the “Essex Twins”. McGahey, who learned his cricket in Tottenham, headed Essex’s averages in 1901, was one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year and toured Australia in the winter where he played his only two Test matches. He managed to play football for both Spurs and Woolwich Arsenal as the latter was then known. When asked how he was out against Oxford he replied “I was bowled by an old so and so I thought was dead two thousand years ago called Robinson Crusoe”. This explains Robertson-Glasgow’s nickname of Crusoe. Essex’s best professional batsman was Herbert Carpenter from a well-known Cambridgeshire dynasty.

Walter Mead was the leading bowler, assisted by Young and William Reeves. But the most interesting bowler on view was Charles Kortwright said to be the fastest bowler ever yet he also never played Test cricket. He told stories of bowling a six in byes as the ball went out of the ground or of how he hit the base of the stumps and the ball rebounded past him to the boundary. There seems to be no explanation of why he wasn’t chosen for England and no suggestion of an illegal action. Perhaps he was too assertive – he said he had private means and had never done a day’s work in his life.

There has not been much room left for Yorkshire players this time. When looking at these early 20th century Championship matches it is remarkable how few changes there were in the team. John Tunnicliffe and Jack Brown were followed by David Denton; Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh did the bowling, David Hunter was behind the stumps and Lord Hawke was captain. The other three players in this match, Frank Mitchell, Ted Wainwright and Lees Whitehead, also played a good deal for the county as did TL Taylor in 1901. This year there were only nine appearances by anyone else in the Championship, six of them by Ernest Smith during his school holiday from Eastbourne College.


May 25, 26, 27: Essex 174 (DB Close 5-58, A Coxon 4-37) & 203-5 (TC Dodds 88, A Coxon 4-29), Yorkshire 346-9dec (DB Close 88 Not Out, H Halliday 84, A Coxon 59, TPB Smith 6-83). Match drawn

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