Cricket Diary: Poore's rich harvest of centuries one century later

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the great, unsung anniversaries was marked last week. Precisely 100 years ago on Wednesday, Major Robert Poore and Captain Edward Wynyard shared a partnership of 411 for Hampshire against Somerset at Taunton. It remains the highest for the sixth wicket by English batsmen.

The pair came together with their side on 259 for 5 (they had been 63 for 4 at one stage) and put on the runs in a mere 4hr 20min. Hampshire have never surpassed their eventual total of 672 for 7 declared and there has been no higher stand by two serving army officers.

For Poore, who made 304, it was the apex of a remarkable summer. At the age of 33 he was playing his first full season in county cricket. Until then he had been prevented from devoting much time to the game by service with the Seventh Hussars in India and South Africa.

He first appeared for the county, qualifying by residence, in 1898 and the next summer exhibited remarkable form. In all, he scored 1,551 runs at 91.23, then the highest seasonal average ever. For Hampshire, his average was 116.58.

Poore's record summer and record partnership with Wynyard are part of an exhibition of Hampshire cricket which opened on the day of the centenary in Portsmouth Museum. The display takes an engaging stroll through the history of cricket in the city and the county.

It was meant to coincide with this year's matches at the United Services ground, Portsmouth, a venue which itself would have been a fitting memorial to the deeds of the Major and the Captain, who were later, incidentally, to become a Brigadier- General and a Major. Unfortunately the US ground was declared unfit for first-class cricket a month ago.

"The move to Southampton is bound to affect attendance at the exhibition," said its organiser, Dr David Allen. "Many people would have gone in the intervals, now they will have to make a special journey."

The display is lovingly assembled and reminds us, in the week of Channel 4's debut, both of the importance to the game of its history and how far it has come. There is much more to it than Robert Poore but he shines out as the star. His other feats in that 1899 summer included scoring two hundreds in a match at Portsmouth (and a third in his next innings) not to mention being in the winning team of the inter-regimental polo tournament and winning the best man-at-arms mounted event at the Military Tournament.

Also celebrated in the exhibition is the 250th anniversary of the first recorded match in Hampshire when according to the Whitehall Evening Post "on Mill Dam, Portsmouth Common, those living on the Common beat Fareham and Titchfield by great odds."

AMONG THE key ways of winning Test matches is assembling a high first- innings total. England have forgotten how to do this. Their hopeless 186 at Lord's in the Second Test was the sixth consecutive time they have failed to reach 300. This represents a new low in the past 10 years. In 1989 they went for five first innings without reaching 300. They have never done so as a matter of course in the decade since, though there was a run of making it eight times in nine innings in 1990 and 1991.

England have now played 101 Test first innings in this decade, broken down as follows. Under 100: twice, both drawn. 100-199: 21, won four, lost 14, drew three. 200-299: 27, won six; lost 16; drew five. 300-399: 30, won nine, lost nine, drew 12. 400-499: 13, won four, lost two, drew eight. 500-599: seven, won three, lost nil, drew four; 600-699: one, drawn. Thus, it helps to make at least 400, never mind 300, and the last time England did that they lost.

SEVERAL MEN prompted thoughts this week about one-cap wonders. They were James Whitaker, Mike Smith and Chris Silverwood, all of whom have made a single Test appearance for England.

Whitaker made his debut and, as we can now at last be absolutely certain, his final appearance, in the last series in which England won the Ashes in 1986-87. It was two years last week since Smith, the left-arm Gloucestershire seamer, was called up at Headingley, had an early catch dropped, did not take a wicket and was immediately, unkindly discarded. Silverwood has been in several England Test squads. He was in the 13 for the First Test this summer, but his sole appearance remains a match against Zimbabwe in 1996.

Seven players still on county books have won one cap and, if only in theory, therefore, could make it two: Smith, Silverwood, Joey Benjamin, Simon Brown, Ashley Giles, John Stephenson, Alan Wells.

BOOK MARK

"Against nearly most of the other countries England and New Zealand have occasionally experienced friction, yet virtually never against each other." From England v New Zealand by Gerry Cotter, a phrase that came to mind as Chris Cairns snarled at Graham Thorpe as he had him caught at Lord's.

DON'T STOP THE CARNIVAL

FOR NICK KNIGHT, the carnival barely started. He was, strangely, omitted from all of England's World Cup matches. Poor form, never mind the class. Rehabilitation has been slow but there are signs at last that Knight is picking up. He scored 94 for Warwickshire against Surrey, his highest Championship score of the summer. Unfortunately, his side were hammered.

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