by Paul Dyson

Dewsbury is another town which hosted county matches in the early years of Yorkshire CCC.

As was seen in last week’s Memory Ground (Huddersfield) there were a few centres whose affinity with cricket was much greater than in others. The first time it is known that a team called Dewsbury played – against Earlsheaton – was as long ago as 1819. This, and subsequent matches, are believed to have taken place on Dewsbury Moor.

In 1862 was formed Thornhill Lees Church Institute CC; it is not known exactly where they played and this also applies to a visit by the All-England XI when they fulfilled a fixture against 22 of Dewsbury. This game may have been at the Savile Town Ground but what is certain is that the aforementioned Club moved there in 1865, renamed itself Thornhill & Savile CC and probably played its first game in early May of that year against Mirfield. The official opening came in late July and coincided with another visit from the England touring team.

Because of the need to put the wider town’s name on the cricketing map, the Club was renamed again, this time to Dewsbury and Savile CC. First-class cricket soon arrived when Yorkshire hosted Cambridgeshire in 1867 which was Yorkshire’s fifth season as an official county club. The home team won a low-scoring match by four wickets after Luke Greenwood (eight for 35) and Tom Emmett (six for 56) had laid the foundations although Thomas Haywood (uncle of the great TW Hayward) held them at bay with 44 not out – the highest innings of the match.

The next few years saw the new ground hosting a plethora of impressive fixtures. On two occasions the All-England XI played against the United England XI, in 1868 arrived the Australian Aboriginals – England’s first antipodean tourists – and there was a match between the North and the South in 1870. With Yorkshire having played twice more at the ground in quick succession there was then a ten-year gap between fixtures but when the county returned in 1880 it was to play against the touring Australian Test team. This fixture was repeated two years later and the White Rose county returned on a regular basis from then onwards for either an inter-county match or, from 1890, a game in the official County Championship. The 1886 season was the only one which included a Roses fixture at the ground.

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