In the 2018 season Yorkshire used as many as 25 different players in the 13 County Championship matches. Paul Dyson looks back at how this compares with previous seasons.
The 25 cricketers who represented Yorkshire CCC in the 2018 County Championship campaign were equalling a county record. As the following shows, this record for the post-1918 era was set in 1947 and has now been equalled four times.
MOST PLAYERS IN A CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (1919-2018)
|Players||Matches||Average matches per player||Championship position|
On four occasions have Yorkshire used 24 players in a Championship season: three of these were this century (2002-2004), the other being in 1953.
It is often the case that successful teams attribute their good results to having a settled side but this does not appear to have been so in 1952 or 2001. However the maxim is proven by the 1959-68 era when Yorkshire won seven Championships in ten seasons and the average number of players used each year was 18.5. The figure for the inter-War period, when Yorkshire won 12 titles in the 21 seasons and never finished lower than fifth, is 19.2. The 1946-58 period had a high average (22.4) but the troubled 1969-86 era less so (19.6 players per season).
The 1987-99 period when the team re-building work gradually started to pay dividends was the era of greatest stability in team selection. Only 18.4 players per season – fewer than in the 1960s – were chosen. (These years contained the two seasons when Yorkshire chose the lowest number of players in a season – 15 in 1996 (6th in the Championship) and a mere 14 in 1991 (14th)). That particular form book, though, has been torn to shreds with the advent of the 21st century. Despite the reduction in the number of matches being played the average number of players chosen in each season from 2000 to 2018 is 21.7. Although this compares favourably with the 1946-58 era, the numbers of games played by counties in the immediate post-War period was twice as many as it is now.
Of the five years appearing in the above table it is the 2001 season which probably is the most surprising inclusion. With that particular Championship-winning campaign still being relatively fresh in supporters’ minds it would be a good challenge to try to name all 25 players who appeared in that season’s 16 matches. The batsmen were led by Darren Lehmann whose average of 83.29 was Yorkshire’s highest for 22 years. He scored almost 20% of the county’s runs but Matthew Wood had an excellent season as opener, albeit without a regular partner, and also scored over 1,000 runs. Michael Vaughan, skipper David Byas and Craig White all averaged over 40 while Anthony McGrath, Gary Fellows and wicket-keeper Richard Blakey all scored over 400 runs. Similarly, the wickets were also shared out; six bowlers, five of whom were, or would be, Test cricketers, each took over 25 wickets, the way being led by Steven Kirby. He, Chris Silverwood and Matthew Hoggard were all in the top ten of the national Championship averages. Ryan Sidebottom, Gavin Hamilton and Richard Dawson, in his debut season like Kirby, made up the list.
Of the eleven players who appeared in seven matches or fewer, four were opening batsmen: Scott Richardson, Simon Widdup, Vic Craven and Chris Taylor. Michael Lumb also appeared in a few games as did all-rounder James Middlebrook. Simon Guy deputised as ‘keeper for just one game and bowlers to appear briefly were seamers Darren Gough and Paul Hutchison and spinners Andy Gray and Ian Fisher. Did you get all 25?
So, there have been five seasons in the last 100 years when Yorkshire have used as many as 25 players in a Championship campaign and two of these have been in the two most recent seasons. Is it the trend for players to now come and go on a regular basis? Will 2019 see the record broken or will there be greater stability in the 11 who take to the field?