Somerset head to Leeds to face Yorkshire on Monday in a must win game for two sides actively involved in the race to win the County Championship. Yorkshire have won the title for the past two seasons but for Somerset a win would go a long way to securing a first and much coveted Championship win.
There have been many titanic games between the counties over the seasons – and some fabulous tussles in recent times – but thoughts head back to the start of the last century when Yorkshire truly dominated English cricket. They won the County Championship in 1900 and would go on to repeat this in 1901 and 1902. In those last two seasons their dominance was such that they only lost twice and both of those games were against Somerset.
For the game in July 1901 the west countrymen travelled to Leeds by train without much enthusiasm as their form was nothing short of abysmal. In fairness they had only lost by a narrow margin against Yorkshire at Taunton but the table rarely lies and Somerset were by far the underdog.
And the match started as predicted. Somerset skipper Sammy Woods decided to bat on a wet wicket and the openers were both dismissed without any score on the board. Only Woods had much luck stroking a gallant 46 in his team’s total of just 87. There were three more ducks to add to the openers too!
In fairness to the visitors they did manage to dismiss Yorkshire by the close of play but only after they had hit 325 to take a lead of 238 into day two. The elegantly named Beaumont Cranfield (4-113) and George Gill (4-105) had reduced Yorkshire to 86 for 6 at one stage but a ninth wicket stand of 117 between Schofield Haigh (96 batting at number 9) and Wilfred Rhodes (44).
The next morning Somerset openers Lionel Palairet and Len Braund made amends for their first innings failures by adding 222 for the 1st wicket in 140 minutes, thereby practically removing Yorkshire’s advantage. Palairet’s 173 took 220 minutes and included 28 fours while Braund’s 107 took 140 minutes and included 15 fours.
Somerset closed the second day on 549 for 5. There were contributions throughout Somerset’s eventual total of 630 all out. An injured Frank Phillips scored 122 (using Woods as a runner for most of the innings) including 13 fours and a five! Woods (66), Hill (53) and Robson (40) all played their part. Yorkshire would need 393 to win!
Cranfield again bowled well taking 4 for 35 in 18 overs as Yorkshire struggled. Braund followed up his century with four wickets too as the home team were bundled out for 113 in 37 overs. Somerset had overturned a first innings deficit of 238 runs into a victory by 279 runs – an amazing performance from Sammy Woods’ team against another who hadn’t lost in 48 matches.
Of course any type of victory would be welcomed by Somerset during the next week.