1863 – 2016

High scores from two batsmen contributed to a drawn game 105 years ago at Trent Bridge which Paul Dyson takes a look back at. The photo of David Denton appears courtesy of Mick Pope.

June 5, 6, 7, 1913 at Trent Bridge: Yorkshire 471 (D Denton 148, BB Wilson 89, R Kilner 76) & 112-3dec; Nottinghamshire 331 (G Gunn 132, J Gunn 65, MW Booth 6-99, GH Hirst 4-69) & 129-3 (G Gunn 109*). Match drawn.

Having won the County Championship in 1912, Yorkshire started the following season in fine form. They had won four of their six matches before this game, losing only to Lancashire. Nottinghamshire had finished in eighth place (out of 16), and so far had four victories from five matches so this was to be an important game for both counties.

It is not known who Yorkshire’s captain was in this match but the only amateur was John Tasker; he had led the county earlier in the season so it may well have been he who won the toss and elected to bat. Wilfred Rhodes was the earliest loss, being run out for 19 but Benny Wilson (89) and David Denton shared a stand of 99 before the latter put on 117 with Alonzo Drake whose contribution was just 34. Another century partnership, of 112 for the fifth wicket with Roy Kilner (76), soon followed and this took the score to 376 for five. Denton was eventually caught off the medium-paced bowling of James Iremonger for an accomplished 148; he struck 127 fours and had batted for three-and-three-quarter hours, his driving and pulling being particularly ‘in grand style’ (Wisden). He did not give a semblance of a chance until he had passed the century-mark. By close of play on a run-soaked day Yorkshire had reached 420 for seven.

Tasker and Schofield Haigh helped the tail to wag on the second morning and the visitors were eventually dismissed for 471, both Iremonger and William Riley each taking three wickets. James Horsley had suffered most, him conceding 176 runs from his 33 overs. Nottinghamshire then lost an early wicket but George Gunn and Joe Hardstaff (46) put on 106 together for the second wicket. The former was then joined by his brother John and the pair took the score to the double-Nelson total of 222-2, made in 280 minutes, when stumps were drawn.

The final day began with the early loss of John Gunn for 65, the fraternal stand having produced 114, to give George Hirst his third wicket, before George Gunn’s six-hour innings came to an end, the batsman having scored 132. Wisden commented on his team’s ‘dogged tactics’ for which he must take much of the responsibility. The bowler was Major Booth who took six of the final seven wickets to fall, during which time only 62 runs were scored, and the home side conceded a lead of 140, having only just avoided the follow-on. Booth’s final figures were six for 99 and the remaining four wickets were all taken by Hirst at a cost of 69 runs.

Yorkshire would, ideally, have then liked to have thrown the bat but were pegged back by a disciplined performance from the home side’s bowlers. The visitors batted for 48 overs but scored only 112 for three. Riley was particularly miserly, his 13 overs conceding a mere 17 runs. After the declaration, therefore, there was little time for either side to force a victory. Thanks to ‘most dazzling cricket’ (Ibid.) in an attacking innings from George Gunn, who made his second century of the match, the crowd did enjoy some entertainment. Gunn’s 109 not out was made in 85 minutes in a total of 129 for three; he shared an opening stand of 66 with Garnet Lee whose contribution was four!

Both counties continued to have good seasons after this match but the eventual champions were Kent. Yorkshire were runners-up, but with four wins fewer were some distance behind them. Nottinghamshire finished in fifth place, an improvement of three positions on the previous season.

Man of the match

Of the five batsmen to have scored over 30,000 first-class runs for Yorkshire, David Denton is the least well-known even though he is in second place on the list. For about 25 years, however, he was Yorkshire’s number three. Stylish and adventurous, although not strongly-built, he had no particular favourite scoring strokes and was able to score equally well all round the wicket. His ability to score quickly meant that any advantage gained from the opening partnership was reinforced.

Born in Thornes, Wakefield, in 1874, Denton first played for his home-town club and then Castleford before making his debut for Yorkshire just 12 days after his 20th birthday. He played in only four matches in 1894 but in the following season not only established himself in the first-choice eleven but passed 1,000 runs for the first time – a feat which he would achieve on a total of 21 occasions. He was duly awarded his county cap and was the 25th player to receive one. His best season came in 1905 when he scored 2,405 runs at 42.19 and this led to him making his Test debut in the same year at Headingley against Australia.

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