Throughout the whole of the 2018 season and most of 2019, Yorkshire’s captains have had more success in winning the toss than at any other time since the Second World War. Paul Dyson looks at the record-breaking sequence and compares it with previous similar feats.
When I wrote my Who’s Who of Yorkshire County Cricket Club I partly dedicated it to Tony Woodhouse and Roy Wilkinson stating that ‘all those who research into Yorkshire CCC will always be in their debt’. Since that book was published I have received about 40 ledgers in which Roy kept a vast array of statistics on Yorkshire’s first-class matches. I am now more in awe of his work than when I wrote my dedication.
One of the records which Roy kept was of who won the toss in each first-class match. His records are complete from 1863 to 1883 (apart from some games in which the information is not known) and from 1933 to 2015 – the last season before he passed away. Why the gap exists will probably never be known but I have taken it upon myself to keep Roy’s records up to date and so we now have a complete record of toss wins at least over the most recent 75 seasons and those are the ones on which this particular article is based.
During the 2018 Championship campaign the coin was tossed in only five of Yorkshire’s 13 games (the remaining eight being uncontested) but all five tosses were won by White Rose captains. Gary Ballance was still the skipper for the first of these (although on electing to bat at Chelmsford he saw his team bowled out for 50 – but they still won the match!), newly-appointed captain Steve Patterson won each of the next three and when he sustained an injury David Willey stepped in to win the fifth and final toss of the season.
The story of the tosses in 2019’s Championship season is much simpler. The coin went up on eight occasions and Patterson won all of the first six making the whole sequence of toss-wins for Yorkshire in the competition the best since the Second World War, as the following shows.
MOST CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP TOSS WINS FOR YORKSHIRE 1946-2019
11 2018-19 SA Patterson 9, GS Ballance 1, D Willey 1
9 1946 AB Sellers 7, NWD Yardley 2
9 2005-06 C White 8, A McGrath 1
8 1974 G Boycott 4, PJ Sharpe 4
8 1979 JH Hampshire 8
7 1954 NWD Yardley 6, W Watson 1
7 2015 AW Gale 7
John Hampshire’s eight successive toss-wins came at the very start of his time as official Yorkshire captain; it did not do him a great deal of good as the first seven games were all drawn and the eighth one lost.
Andrew Gale’s sequence of seven came towards the end of his second Championship-winning season. Five of the games were won and only one lost.
In the sequence overlapping the 2005 and 2006 seasons Craig White won his eight tosses in consecutive matches – two at the end of 2005 and six to begin 2006. This means that he is equal with Hampshire in having most consecutive toss wins in successive Yorkshire matches.
It cannot helped but be noticed that Yorkshire’s five victories in the 2019 Championship campaign all came when the team batted first. Maybe, assuming the successful calling at the toss continues, whoever is responsible will bear this in mind as well as advice which is reputed to have come from WG Grace: ‘On winning the toss, think ten times about fielding but still bat’.