100 Years Ago: Lancs win thriller after riot

LANCASHIRE v HAMPSHIRE at Aigburth, July 1920

Championship-chasing Lancashire were held up by rain that had left the Aigburth pitch sodden ahead of their match against Hampshire at the beginning of July 1920.

And trouble was brewing with a 7,000 strong-and increasingly frustrated-crowd kept outside of the ground on of the first morning of the match, Saturday July 3rd. When it became known play was going to start at 2pm this frustration boiled over and the crowd rushed the gates 'tearing down pailings and sitting where they saw fit, even in the members' pavilion.' according to newspaper accounts. 'They causing considerable damage but without interfering with the cricket or giving serious trouble,' reported Wisden.

The Lancashire committee held an enquiry into the 'break-in' and 'regrettable incident' the following week before instructing the Secretary to 'meet with the Liverpool authorities to make more satisfactory arrangements for the forthcoming match against Notts.'

After Jack Sharp (pictured) had won the toss Lancashire were indebted to opening batsman Harry Makepeace who made 65 in two hours, reaching 1,000 runs for the season, in their total of 182 having earlier been 120 for 1.

On Monday, with the pitch remaining difficult as the ball skidded through, Hampshire were all out for 174 with Lionel (Lord) Tennyson hitting 55 in thirty-five minutes while middle-order batsman John Greig made 35 in seventy minutes. Harry Dean then cleaned up the tail to finish with 6 for 85 and Lancashire led by just 8 runs.

They could only extend that lead by a further 57 runs once medium pace bowler Alex Kennedy exploited the favourable bowling conditions finding considerable movement both ways in a sensational, unplayable, afternoon spell of 9-33 from 13.3 overs.

That left Hampshire needing 66 to win with ten minutes to bat in the day leading the visitors to send in spinner James Evans (who batted at ten in the first innings and did not bowl a ball in the match) and all-rounder Jack Newman to open. They survived to the close, reducing the target by six runs.

Heavy rain then prevented play restarting on the final day until 2pm and even then ground was not fit with patches of mud on the pitch, but Hampshire wanted to leave for an early train and agreed to play. Nightwatchman Evans batted on valiantly for 65 minutes to make 21 and at 53 for 3 the visitors looked certain to win. Legend has it that Dean and Lawrence Cook deliberately kept Evans at the crease to give the rain-affected wicket a chance to start dying out and deteriorate. If true, it's a remarkable story-and tactic-but by then with only 13 runs required the Lancashire pair had little choice other than to attack.

Four wickets then fell for one run to make the score 54 for 7. 'Cook and Dean bowled splendidly' remarked Wisden, 'but the batsmen were helpless'. Even so Hampshire slowly edged closer to victory before Cook bowled Greig to make the score 57 for 8, and soon that became 60 for 9.

After taking a single, last man Frank Ryan hit Dean to leg and the batsmen ran three but could not manage the fourth that would have levelled the scores. Amid high tension on and off the field the next delivery from Dean lifted sharply, took the edge of the bat as Kennedy tried to protect himself, and wicketkeeper Alan Boddington ran several yards at full speed to take the catch and win the match by one run — Lancashire snatching a victory amid great enthusiasm.' said Wisden. What a game it was — there has not been such a close Red Rose victory (by runs) since.

Lancashire v Hampshire, 3rd, 5th & 6th July 1920
Lancashire 1st innings 182 all out (54.1 overs) Harry Makepeace 65, Jack Newman 6-68
Hampshire 1st innings 174 all out (58.5 overs) Lionel Tennyson 55, Harry Dean 6-85
Lancashire 2nd innings 57 all out (26.3 overs) Alex Kennedy 9-33
Hampshire 2nd innings 64 all out (32.3 overs) Lol Cook 7-22, Harry Dean 3-41

Lancashire won by one run

In Lancashire's 155-year history the county have only enjoyed two one-run victories, the first against Leicestershire at Aylestone Road (now Grace Road) in 1906, and this game against Hampshire at Aigburth one hundred years ago.
Ken Grime

Extract from the 2020 Lancashire Cricket Year Book, available online from the Lancashire Shop

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