Home > Features > Moments in history >

Ashes 1893: John Atkinson Pendlington presents WG Grace with Linear Scoring Method

Ashes 1893: John Atkinson Pendlington presents WG Grace with Linear Scoring Method

WG Grace © Getty Images

September 6, 1893. As the penultimate engagement of the Ashes tour drew to an end, John Atkinson Pendlington, a diehard cricket enthusiast, presented WG Grace with a radical scoring sheet — which became the revolutionary Linear Scoring Method. Arunabha Sengupta revisits the day this technique made its first appearance and how it was refined by legendary scorers Bill Ferguson and Bill Frindall.

The Ashes had been decided — England had triumphed by an innings at The Oval.
 
The tour was drawing to an end, with some unconventional fireworks — a few days ago fielding in the outfield during an odds match in freezing weather at Blackpool, Arthur Coningham had torn off some grass, collected some twigs, piled them together and kindled a nice little fire.

It was time for the penultimate fixture of the tour, played as per tradition at Scarborough, between the tourists and CI Thornton’s XI. A tall scoring match with plenty of runs, it saw Andrew Stoddart and Stanley Jackson put on 176 for the first wicket. When Australia batted, Harry Graham, Alec Bannerman and Hugh Trumble made merry. The game ended in a draw with Australia on 87 for five in their second innings, having been set 185 for a victory.
 
The 953 runs scored over the three days provided the best possible opportunity to 32-year-old John Atkinson Pendlington, and he made copious entries in his ingenious scoring book.
 
The founder of the Tyneside Supply Company, which later became the British Electrical Manufacturing Company of Newcastle and London, Pendlington was a die-hard cricket enthusiast. Born in South Shields, he played the game himself for Benwell in the Northumberland League. Later, his son also turned out for the side. Apart from his interests in business and cricket, he was also a noted Shakespearean scholar and a fascinating conversationalist. Once asked about his religion, he had answered, “I am neither heterodox nor orthodox, just a paradox.”
 
It was a sense of gnawing dissatisfaction with the match reports in Lillywhite and Wisden that had urged Pendlington to ponder about capturing the action on the cricket field with more precision. He could look at the scorecards, get a general idea about how a batsman had performed and how the bowlers had bowled. But, what about the details involving how a batsman played against a particular bowler? Could it only be gleaned from the dispatches of eyewitness reporters — with absolute faith on the accuracy of their accounts? Even in the pre-Neville Cardus days that was a stretch. Could the action not be recorded in scrupulous detail through some method of scoring?
 

Linear Scoring
 
Pendlington thought it was possible.
 
He devised a way, adding a column for each batsman and line for each over, making it possible to follow the progress of a match ball by ball. And during this game between the Australians and CI Thornton’s XI, he sat in the stands, jotting down the action ball by ball in his exercise book. He soon had the number of balls each batsman had received from each bowler and the number of runs he had made from them.
 
Who would be the most suitable person to present the fruits of his labours? Pendlington did not have to look very far. Seated near the pavilion was the great bearded figure of Dr WG Grace.
 
A newspaper story dated January 16, 1914, was published marking the death of Pedlington. It noted that on that day the scoring sheet had caused much amusement and pleasure to the good doctor. Of course, with his keen cricketing sense, Grace could very well divine the far-reaching uses of such a method.
 
This newspaper clipping was preserved by Ken Pendlington, the grandson of the creator of the technique — which has become known as the Linear Scoring method. In early 1994, Ken Pendlington sent a copy of the article to Richie Benaud, to ensure that his grandfather’s efforts would be acknowledged. Indeed Benaud mentioned the contribution of John Atkinson Pendlington to the art of scoring in his book My Spin on Cricket.
 
What does remain a mystery, however, is the fate of the original score-sheet presented to Grace. What did the doctor do with it? It has never been found. And it is slightly surprising that the method was not immediately adopted by official scorers. The only ones to use it in the subsequent decade were the compilers of scorecards for Australian papers.
 
It is often believed that Linear Scoring method was developed by the legendary Sydney based scorer Bill Ferguson. However, it is more accurate to say that ‘Fergie’ adopted and refined it. The other great cricket scorer, Bill Frindall, writes in his biography Bearders: “Fergie must have been aware of the Pendlington method and using a school exercise book, he recorded the remaining matches in both that and the traditional scorebook (during his first tour in 1905).”
 
The original scorebook of the 1905 tour was later bought from the estate of Victor Trumper by a private collector and now finds itself in the Cricket Museum at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The exercise book with the Linear Scoring details was discovered by Frindall in 1975 from the Sydney offices of the New South Wales Cricket Association.
 
Frindall, who coincidentally possessed the same initials as Ferguson, took the Lateral Scoring technique to the next level once he started scoring from 1966 series between England and West Indies.
 
He used the same technique as pioneered by Pendlington, but hugely refined and annotated it with marginal notes and comments. The game almost came to life as one browsed through his immaculate calligraphy. The superscript symbol ‘S’ stood for sprinted run, ‘X’ for played and missed, ‘T’ for hit on thigh pad — and many more such codes and keys meticulously detailed the events to perfection. In addition, every scoring stroke was given an index number indicating the zone in the field where the ball travelled to. From these finely documented minutiae, scoring charts and wagon wheels could be easily constructed.
 
The method was used with excellent effect in the Test Match Special box and was gradually adopted by all professional scorers. In 1971, Jack Hill of Surrey became the first county scorer to undergo conversion to the new technique and others soon followed suit.
 
Nowadays video analysis and computerisation has changed the art of scoring beyond recognition. But, if we look closely at the algorithms, behind the snazzy graphics and pitch-maps, we will always find the handiwork of Pendlington, Ferguson and Frindall.
 
It all started with the efforts of one amateur scorer during the Scarborough match of 1893.
 
Brief scores:
 
CI Thornton’s XI 345 (Andrew Stoddart 127, Stanley Jackson 62, Billy Newham 52*; Hugh Trumble 5 for 87) and 230 for 8 decl. (Stanley Jackson 68; George Giffen 6 for 88) drew with Australians 391 (Alec Bannerman 74, John Lyons 40, Harry Graham 95, Hugh Trumble 62) and 87 for 5 (John Lyons 47).
 
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twiter.com/senantix) 

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son included in UP One-Day squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here