When Yorkshire’s first two games of the 2018 first-class season were both abandoned without a ball being bowled on any of the seven scheduled days it was commented at the time that this is now a rare event. Paul Dyson looks back at times when the weather gained the upper hand to the detriment of first-class matches. The picture of the 1904 team, which suffered an unusual abandonment part way through a game, comes from his own collection.
Perhaps it was that Friday the 13th (of April) was not a good choice of date for the start of 2018’s County Championship season. Or perhaps it was that March had been a particularly wet month and that Headingley’s pitch, square and outfield had suffered much too much from the rain that the north of England had recently experienced. Whatever the reason, for two successive long-form matches the players and relevant staff of Yorkshire CCC had to find alternative ways of occupying themselves.
The two games concerned were against Leeds/Bradford Universities and Essex. The pair bring Yorkshire’s total of first-class matches completely abandoned due to the weather up to 36.
- Yorkshire’s previous abandoned first-class match had been in 1992 – against Oxford University at Oxford..
- The last year in which Yorkshire had experienced an abandoned match in the County Championship was 1987 – against Sussex at Hastings.
- The last time there had been an abandoned first-class match at Headingley was in 1967 – against Leicestershire That year was also the last time Yorkshire had experienced two first-class matches both being abandoned in the same season.
The 2018 abandonments, therefore, represent Yorkshire’s first such experiences of the 21st century. It is surprising, in view of the primitive equipment in use at the time, that there were only four abandonments in the 19th century. With regards to the 20th century, the worst decade, weather-wise, was the first one and Yorkshire had four abandonments therein. There were also four in each of the 1950s and 1980s but five in the 1970s and no fewer than six in the 1930s.
The last time Yorkshire experienced two successive abandonments was in 1930. These were not at the start of the season but towards the end of July. On the 19th the county travelled to Chesterfield but the rain held sway and the county’s players then returned home, to Harrogate, for the visit of Northamptonshire but the weather prevented any play in that match either.
The last edition of the Yorkshire Yearbook which lists abandoned matches was the 2017 one. It also includes three games which were not played because of the impending wars. Two of these were in 1914 and one in 1939; for the purposes of this survey those games are regarded as ‘cancelled’ rather than abandoned.
The list in that particular yearbook also includes a game which is now given the label ‘match void’. Yorkshire were playing Kent at Harrogate and at some point between the end of play on the first day and the start of the second day the pitch had been tampered with. Under Law 9 (at the time, now Law 10) this was illegal. A crowd had gathered on the start of the second morning but, in spite of the obvious contravention, the umpires allowed play to continue in the interests of public relations but there was no play on the third day. None of the players’ performances (including Schofield Haigh’s six for 55 on the first day) count towards their first-class career records. As play did take place, this match is not included in the 36 stated above.