Chris Waters: Aiming to follow ‘grandad’ Booth’s example on way to title
YORKSHIRE went into their current County Championship match against Sussex at Hove looking for a seventh successive Championship victory.
By my reckoning, it would be the first time they had achieved such a sequence since 1946, when the club won eight Championship games on the trot en route to the title.
Between June 12 and July 22, 1946, Yorkshire embarked on a remarkable run which they have bettered only three times in their 152-year history.
In 1923, they won 13 Championship games on the bounce (actually 14 first-class matches in total) in another title-winning year.
In 1925, they won 12 matches in succession in another title-winning year. And, in 1932, they won nine games on the spin in – yes, you’ve guessed it – another title-winning year.
Yorkshire also won nine first-class games in succession across the seasons of 1869 and 1870 before the Championship was officially constituted in 1890.
It gives you an idea of the company that the present Yorkshire team – odds-on to win yet another Championship – are keeping.
Back to 1946.
The first summer after the Second World War was wet and inhospitable.
Yorkshire were adjusting to life without Hedley Verity, the left-arm spin bowler killed in action, and turned to Arthur Booth, a 43-year-old from Featherstone.
Booth first played for the club in 1931, but he had little opportunity due to Verity’s dominance.
Now, in tandem with off-spinner Ellis Robinson, Booth – nicknamed ‘Grandad’ by Yorkshire captain Brian Sellers – enjoyed an Indian summer.
Yorkshire’s eight-game winning sequence began with an innings victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston, where Booth had match figures of 9-40.
The club went on to defeat Middlesex at Lord’s, Nottinghamshire at Bradford, Glamorgan at Sheffield, Derbyshire at Chesterfield, Surrey at Headingley, Essex at Harrogate and Worcestershire at Headingley before they were held to a draw by Somerset at Taunton.
Booth topped the Yorkshire averages with 84 Championship wickets at 11.90 and also the national ones.
Robinson was leading wicket-taker with 129 at 14.03, while Len Hutton led the batting with 1,112 runs at 50.54.
Going into this week’s game, Andrew Gale’s Yorkshire had won successive matches against Middlesex and Notts at Headingley, Durham at Chester-le-Street, Warwickshire at Edgbaston, and Worcestershire and Durham at Scarborough.
The last time the club won six Championship games on the spin was across seasons 1998 and 1999.
Yorkshire ended 1998 with wins over Glamorgan at Cardiff, Essex at Scarborough, Surrey and Warwickshire at Headingley, and Sussex at Hove.
They won their first match of 1999 against Gloucestershire at Headingley before defeat to Somerset at Taunton.
Yorkshire’s quest for a “magnificent seven” is not the only statistical detail in their sights.
Three wins from their last five games would give Yorkshire more wins (11) than any side have managed since the Championship was split into two divisions.
Heading to Hove, Yorkshire required only 59 points to set a new record for the most points in two-divisional cricket, beating Somerset’s 266 in Division Two in 2007. And they needed only 50 points to beat the previous best First Division total of 257 by Sussex in 2003.