The truncated 2020 season of first-class county matches ended, when all of the facts and figures were totted up, with Yorkshire players topping both the national batting and bowling averages. Paul Dyson looks back at how rare this is.
When a shortened edition of Wisden was published earlier this year it showed, as usual, the batting and bowling averages for the season’s first-class cricket. The difference with the lists for the 2020 season compared with the usual format was that they were dominated by players who had played only in the Bob Willis Trophy – the competition which replaced the conventional County Championship.
At the top of 2020’s batting averages stood Dawid Malan and the bowling averages were headed by Ben Coad – both, of course, Yorkshire players. Each of these two players appeared only in the Bob Willis Trophy, as far as first-class cricket was concerned, so it was obvious that they both came top of the national averages for the whole of the inter-county cricket which took place in the limited 2020 season.
To see two Yorkshire players sitting on top of the inter-county averages begged the question as to had this happened before and how frequently. For previous seasons, obviously, the study had to relate only to the County Championship. Using the conventional ten completed innings for batsmen and ten wickets for bowlers (which was halved for 2020), a total of ten instances were found and four of these were by pairs of Yorkshire players; no other county has been responsible for this feat on more than one occasion as the following shows.
PLAYERS FROM ONE COUNTY TOPPING BOTH NATIONAL AVERAGES IN SAME SEASON IN INTER–COUNTY CRICKET
(1890-2019 County Championship; 2020 Bob Willis Trophy)
In the winter previous to the 1955 season Bob Appleyard had been on the Ashes-winning tour to Australia under the captaincy of fellow-Yorkshireman Len Hutton. Not only did Appleyard top the averages for the Test series, he did so for the whole tour as well – including the leg to New Zealand – with 44 wickets at 14.90. He then took that form with him into the 1955 season. It was one of four campaigns in that decade in which Yorkshire finished the season as runners-up – three of these occasions being when Surrey were champions. Vic Wilson was the leading run-scorer with 1,480 and Billy Sutcliffe also passed the 1,000-mark. Johnny Wardle and Fred Trueman both took over 100 wickets and Brian Close had a good all-round season with 941 runs and 74 wickets.