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Throwback Thursday - A START FIT FOR A DUKE

— 14 October 2021

When Harry Duke came into the Yorkshire first team during the 2021 season he made a very good start with the bat. Paul Dyson finds that so good was this that he became the first wicket-keeper to score two half-centuries for the county in his first three first-class matches as a wicket-keeper.

Many batters, let alone wicket-keepers, begin their careers with a duck so it was no disgrace when Yorkshire’s latest ‘keeper failed to get off the mark in his maiden first-class innings against Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. This, however, gave no hint of Harry Duke’s quality and each of his next two matches saw him make a half-century – against the group leaders Lancashire at Old Trafford (52) and against Sussex at Headingley (54). No other Yorkshire wicket-keeper has made two half-centuries in his first three first-class matches in the 158-year history of the Club. The wicket-keepers to make most runs in their first three such games are now shown.

Name Year Innings Not Outs Runs High Score Average 50s
E Stephenson 1863 5 1 158 67 39.5 1
HG Duke 2021 4 0 135 54 33.75 2
JM Bairstow 2009 5 2 122 66* 40.67 1
SM Guy 2000 4 1 98 42 32.67 0
Ismail Dawood 2004 5 1 96 46* 24 0
A Wormald 1885 4 2 94 80 47 1

Of the six players named above only Duke, Simon Guy and Alfred Wormald were making their first-class debuts and only Edwin ‘Ned’ Stephenson and Jonny Bairstow had, or are having, lengthy careers with the county.

Stephenson was playing in the first three games which involved Yorkshire CCC in the year of its formation. He had previously played in no fewer than 37 matches, since 1854, which are now recognised as being first-class including some for ‘Yorkshire’. He was one of the most eminent wicket-keeper/batters of his era; he played in representative teams such as MCC, North and ‘England’ and was a member of the first British team to tour Australia in 1861/62. Bairstow, however, played in only one first-class match – as a specialist batter, scoring 28 and 82 not out – before taking over behind the stumps. The three games represented above, therefore, were his second, third and fourth first-class matches.

  • Ned Stephenson, Yorkshire’s first quality wicket-keeper/batter.
  • Despite being born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire was Ismail Dawood’s fourth county and he had previously played in 18 first-class matches. He had two seasons with the county before Gerard Brophy was brought into the squad. Guy and Wormald were both regarded as reserve ‘keepers. Wormald played in seven matches spread over the same number of seasons although Guy played in 37 first-class matches in 12 seasons. He was effective in white-ball cricket and occasionally played as a specialist batter in those formats.

    Early days for Duke but the start of his career could indicate that, like Stephenson and Bairstow, he may well have a distinguished time in the game.

    The drawing of Ned Stephenson comes by courtesy of Mick Pope.