Paul Dyson looks at the brief careers of those whose last game for Yorkshire came at the end of the Club’s sixth season.
Four players were each involved in their last games for Yorkshire in 1868 and, obviously, all had short careers; two of them, in fact, played only in the season of 150 years ago.
Tom Darnton played in 13 matches for the county in the five seasons from 1864. he scored 314 runs and took 12 wickets with his round-arm medium pace bowling. From the north of the county, he was born in 1836 in Stockton-on Tees, where he also later died, and played for several clubs in that area, the most significant being Darlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough him being a professional at the last-named.
A free-scoring opening batsman and good all-round cricketer, Darnton played twice for ‘England’ in the pre-Test era, twice for United England XI and once for the North. In his total of 20 first-class matches he made only one half-century – a score of 81 not out in a total of 144 for Yorkshire against the All England XI at Bramall Lane, Sheffield in 1865. A colourful character, he had a sad demise, passing away at the age of 38 from consumption.
In the 1860s many of Yorkshire’s cricketers came from Sheffield and Charles Webster, born in Ecclesall, was one such. He had first played for ‘Yorkshire’ in 1861 but appeared for the official County Club in only three games – all in 1868. Remarkably, he always batted in the top three or the bottom two but did not bowl. Standing at 5ft 3in, he was one of the county’s smallest-ever players but a top score of 10 against Surrey at Bramall Lane meant that his chances were limited. He continued to play for some of the several Sheffield teams of the time and died in the city in 1881.
Henry Webster had several similarities with his namesake but the pair were not related. He also played only in 1868, also had a top score of 10 and also came from Sheffield. Born in Handsworth in 1844, he was involved in only two first-class matches – both county games for Yorkshire – batted in the lower order, did not bowl and made two ducks in addition to his top score against Middlesex at Islington. Much more successful in club and minor county cricket, he played for at least two of Sheffield’s many clubs as well as Birmingham and Staffordshire. In 1881 he emigrated to South Africa where he both coached and played professionally. His last recorded game is as late as 1889 and he died in Port Elizabeth in 1915 aged 70.
There was very little in the way of any regulation regarding player-registration at this time and one such cricketer to take advantage of this was Anthony Wilkinson. Only the second player to represent Yorkshire who was born outside the county, his birthplacve being Mount Oswald, Durham, he made his debut for the Whte Rose in 1865 and played in five matches in four seasons. Strange as it may seem now, he divided his time between Yorkshire and Middlesex for whom he played in 19 games spread over 11 seasons from 1864. He even played for both counties in the same season!
An opening batsman who played as an amateur, having been educated at Shrewsbury and Cambridge, Wilkinson scored over 1,000 runs and took over 50 wickets with his right-arm slows in his overall total of 61 first-class matches which also included 17 appearances for MCC and 12 for various Gentlemen teams. He never scored a century and his best for Yorkshire was 53 against Surrey at The Oval in 1867. He chaired the meeting which formed Durham CCC in 1874 and played for it in its first two seasons. He died in Anerly, near Bromley in Kent having not lived long enough to see his son, Cyril, captain Surrey when it won the Championship in 1914.
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