Ahead of Nottinghamshire's LV County Championship opener against Worcestershire, Cricket Historian Peter Wynne-Thomas recalls a classic encounter.
Harry Richards noted that the umpire, Skelding, gave a border-line decision in favour of the batsman. To anyone reading the back files of the Guardian-Journal today, it’s a comment of no significance, but to those, such as myself who were present at the time, it carries greater meaning. Alec Skelding, then aged 70, wore glasses with bottle lenses; an umpire famed for his eccentricities : he had his own system of signaling and an aversion to dogs; it was rumoured that he umpired by sound rather than sight, but he was rather deaf.
Be that as it may, Gamini Goonesena, an alert youth and athletic fielder, threw the ball in, hitting the wicket – he’d already run out one Worcester batsman – Skelding probably thought one run out was enough. Anyway the decision, on the second day of the match made no difference to the eventual outcome.
On paper Notts and Worcester were evenly matched; the game at Worcester had been a neutral draw. The pitch at Trent Bridge looked benign and Peter Richardson, the current Test opener as well as Worcester’s captain, won the toss, choosing to bat. Don Kenyon, another Test batsman, went with Richardson to start the innings. It was a strong batting line-up, everyone from no.1 to no.8 had hit 1,000 runs in a season, three had played for England and two more, Richardson’s brother, Dick, and Martin Horton were soon to be capped. After three hours’ play, Worcestershire were all out for 71, baffled by spin on a bland wicket being used for the first time! By lunch, the visitors had created one record, – just 43 runs scored, the least in living memory. Has any side since then scored so few at Trent Bridge in a county match? I appeal to the Goulder brothers.
The magic had come from Notts’ Australian leg-break bowler, Bruce Dooland. In his first over he conceded 10 runs. Of his next 18 overs, 14 were maidens and his figures at the close of the innings were eight wickets for 20 runs. In Roly Jenkins, Worcester also possessed a talented leg-spinner;he picked up 100 wickets a season and had played Test cricket. Would this Worcester-born Welshman demolish the Notts batting? Things looked distinctly shaky when Reg Simpson and Ron Giles, the home opening pair, made just five runs between them. Enter the left-hander Cyril Poole. Two hours later he had hit 123 and Notts were 194 for 4. The end of an intriguing day’s cricket.
Rain delayed the start of the second day’s play by half an hour. Dooland and Arthur Jepson both hit sixes as Notts went briskly to gain a first innings lead of 201.
By half past one, Worcester were batting a second time. It was not quite a repeat of a first innings debacle, but victory on the stroke of 5.30 was by an innings and 62 runs; Dooland picked up another five wickets though to cheer Worcester fans, there was a bright fifty from Dick Richardson.
The following summer at Trent Bridge the Richardson were both in the England Test team that hit 619 for six declared off the West Indies attack. Peter Richardson scored 126 and Dick made 33 against the immortal pair of Ramadhin and Valentine – perhaps West Indies would have fared better with Bruce Dooland!! For those still paying attention, the Richardsons were the first pair of brothers to represent England in a Trent Bridge Test. Name the other pair – no the Goulder brothers are barred. It’s over to you, Roderick.