With Yorkshire undergoing a period of transition after the end of the 1959-68 successes, it is no surprise to learn that no fewer than five players made their debuts in 1970, or that three of them made a big impact for the county. Paul Dyson looks back over their time in the game. The photo of Richard Lumb is by courtesy of Mick Pope.
With Jimmy Binks having retired at the end of the 1969 season Yorkshire needed a new first-team wicket-keeper. Neil Smith had been the regular 2nd XI ‘keeper since 1966 (when he was only 17) so he was the one who took over the role from the very first games of the season.. Born in Ossett, Wakefield in 1949, he experienced league cricket with Lascelles Hall and Bradford before his Yorkshire debut.
Smith’s first game in Yorkshire colours was a Gillette Cup first-round match in late April, 1970 against Surrey and he made his first-class debut exactly one week later against Derbyshire at Bradford. Unfortunately he did not perform at his best and so, after five matches in each format, he was replaced by David Bairstow. His first outing was in a John Player League game in late May against Nottinghamshire at Sheffield and he made his first-class debut at the start of June against Gloucestershire at his native Bradford when aged 18 and having completed an A Level exam early on the morning of his debut.
Smith returned to the side for a few more games later in the season and had, by the end of the campaign, played in seven in each format. He returned in 1971 for one more first-class, non-Chamspionship match but that was the last time he was seen in Yorkshire’s colours. His eight first-class matches had brought him 82 runs and 17 dismissals; in List A cricket his five runs and two dismissals came in seven games. However, he was able to continue his career with Essex, joining it in 1973 and remaining there until 1981. In the last three years of the 1980s he had three seasons with Cheshire and also played for Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme in that same county. He died in Wakefield in 2003 when aged only 53.
Bairstow, meanwhile, had a career which went from strength to strength and he was the only one of 1970’s Yorkshire debutants to play for England, that homour coming in four Tests and 21 ODIs. He played for Yorkshire for 21 seasons, was the county’s captain for three years from 1984 and is the only cricketer to score at least 10,000 first-class runs for the county as well as make over 1,000 dismissals. Tragically, he took his own life in 1998 but with his widow working in the offices of Yorkshire CCC and his son Jonny continuing to forge a name for himself for Yorkshire and England, his legacy continues to live on.
The next 1970 debutante first wore Yorkshire’s colours on July 1st, 1970; Dennis Schofield made his first-class debut against Leicestershire at Sheffield but that was one of only three such games in which he platyed over his five-season stint with the Club. He also played in just three List A matches, two of which were in 1970.
A meduim-fast bowler, Schofield was born in Holmfirth in 1947. He played for Holmbridge and then Holmfirth before becoming Lightcliffe’s professional in 1968. In the following year he returned to Holmfirth and helped his team complete the Huddersfield League league and cup double. For the 1970 season he joined Broad Oak as professional and remained with it for about 20 years.
For Yorkshire Schofield took only five first-class wickets and these all came when Nottinghamshire were dismissed for 94, his figures being five for 42, in 1974. In his three List A matches he took two wickets.
August, 1970 was the month when the most regular of Geoff Boycott’s opening partners made his first appearance in first-class cricket. That game was at Worcester and Richard Lumb batted at number seven! He was to opening the innings regularly with Boycott throughout the whole of his 15-season career and the pair shared 29 century opening stands together – a total only exceeded for Yorkshire by the legendary Holmes and Sutcliffe. Of Boycott’s other partners his other most prolific partner was Phil Sharpe with whom he shared 13 century opening partnerships.