Home > Features > Moments in history >

Bertie Buse’s Benefit match ends in one day

Bertie Buse picked six for 41 but his side Somerset was bowled out for 55 and 79 in the first and second innings respectively Photo Courtesy: ebay.com
Bertie Buse picked six for 41 but his side Somerset was bowled out for 55 and 79 in the first and second innings respectively Photo Courtesy: ebay.com

June 6, 1953. It was Bertie Buse’s benefit match and there was a large crowd in at Bath to watch the Somerset-Lancashire showdown. However, the pitch ensured a financial disaster for the popular Somerset all-rounder. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the day that saw an entire First-Class match played from start to finish with 30 wickets tumbling in 82 overs.

Bertie Buse, the Bristol born Somerset all-rounder, had provided yeoman’s service to the county. He had been around for 24 years, a regular for the last 15. He had the reputation of firing when the rest of the batting collapsed around him, a trait that saw him score seven First-Class centuries. His batting was characterised by the curious dab-cut, unique in the game, a stroke of his own invention. And from a scrupulously exact and repeatable run up, his medium pace was often slightly quicker and decidedly more penetrating than the offerings of a regular county trundler.

He was immensely popular at 42 when he embarked on his final season. When not doing county duty, he played for the Bath Cricket Cub and spent the winters as a fullback for Bath RFC. So, it was no surprise that the county committee decided to give him a rousing benefit match, earmarking the Bath encounter against the fancied Lancashire side for the purpose. The star studded visiting team in Buse’s adopted hometown was a sure guarantee for crowds to stream in.

The Bath Recreation Ground would no doubt fill up. The one nagging feature was the dicey wicket that had dogged the games in the past few seasons. But, constant complaints had induced the groundsmen to relay the pitch.

Everything should have gone according to plan. However, there were two hitches. The preceding winter had been cruelly cold. Icy winds had blown across the turf, and the growth of grass had been stunted. This had been compounded by the Coronation Day celebrations held on the ground just a couple of weeks before the game.

All in a day’s work

The Lancashire team, led by England opener Cyril Washbrook and consisting of players like Jack Ikin, Brian Statham and Roy Tattershall, arrived at Bath to find a dry, grassless surface. There was a tinge of green but on closer inspection that turned out to be a film of dried moss. The pitch also had a fair proportion of acorn and gravel.

Ben Brocklehurst, the home captain, won the toss and elected to bat. The temperamental genius Harold Gimblett ran himself out for a duck. And after that it was all Tattershall.

The off-spinner with his high arm action just had to pitch on a length. The pitch then took over, imparting mystery and vagaries to the deliveries. Buse, the beneficiary, found himself walking out at 17 for three, and managed just five. In fact, none of the home batsmen reached double figures, wicketkeeper Harold Stephenson top-scoring with eight. The innings lasted just one and a half hours and amounted to 55. Tattershall ended with figures of 12.4-4-25-7.

By lunch however, the balance had been partly restored. Buse opened the bowling and captured the first four wickets, including the big ones of Washbrook and Ikin. Lancashire went into the break at 46 for five. However, even with the success under his belt, Buse must have felt wretched and betrayed as he went in to the pavilion. It was absolutely obvious that the match would not last too long. It was turning out to be a disaster as a benefit game.

After lunch, Lancashire changed their approach. Peter Marner and Alan Wharton launched into a stinging counter attack. Marner, thickset, powerful and just 17-years-old, cleared the boundary four times, plundering 18 runs off four balls from Buse. The pair added 70 in just 25 minutes, effectively deciding the match. Jim Redman accounted for both of them within one run of each other and Buse picked up two more wickets to finish with six for 41, but the visitors totalled 158, which meant a 103 run lead.

When Somerset batted again, Statham joined the party, removing Johnny Lawrence and Roy Smith for ducks. Soon the home side were seven for four. Tattershall tore through the batting once again, picking up six wickets this time — dismissing Buse for three. Stephenson scored 14, launching Tattershall for a six during a brief cameo. The extras trickled over to 10, and some late order heroics by Redman saw him score 27 not out. Those were the only double figure scores on a pitch that was by now assuming demonic proportions. The 35 runs Redman added with Brian Langford for the last wicket turned out to be the best partnership of the match for the hosts.

At 5:35, 45 minutes before the scheduled close of the first day’s play, Tattershall bowled Langford to bring an end to the proceedings and a victory by an innings and 24 runs for Lancashire.

The benefit match had bombed as far as Buse was concerned. According to the rules of the day, the beneficiary had to bear the costs of the match while getting the gate money. To their credit, the Somerset committee waived the costs and set up a fund to help the stalwart. Ultimately Buse was handed a fairly impressive amount of £2,800.

What followed

After the match, the Somerset committee held a meeting and decided to move their following fixture against Kent to Taunton. However, the incidental expenditures of the sudden shift were too much to bear. Hence, the groundsmen were ordered to repair the pitch at express speed.

Cecil Buttle, the head groundsman, opted for the policy of pouring a mixture of liquid marl and cow manure over the pitch with a watering can. He then suppressed this ingenious tampering by rolling the pitch with a covering of cut grass.

However, in spite of all this effort,the match against Kent began with Somerset bundled for 123 following which the visitors ended the first day on 153 for eight. It had been slightly better than the Lancashire match, but only just.

On the second day, though, normal cricket was finally resumed. Gimblett hit 146 and Buse, in at No 4, scored his final First-Class hundred. Somerset ended the second day at 416 for eight and went on to win by 153 runs.

Brief scores:

Somerset 55 (Roy Tattershall 7 for 25) and 79 (Brian Statham 4 for 13, Roy Tattershall 6 for 44) lost to Lancashire158 (Pater Marner 44; Bertie Buse 6 for 41) by an innings and 24 runs

(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://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

Amla feels Proteas more acclimatised to conditions

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Suresh Raina gifts Aditya Garhwal an autographed bat

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Bangladesh gain upper-hand over Zimbabwe at stumps on Day 1 of 1st Test

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Pakistan vs Australia, Live Cricket Score, 1st Test Day 5 at Dubai

Live Scorecard: Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test Day 5 at Dubai

Live Scorecard: Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test Day 5 at Dubai

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

Michael Clarke: Younis Khan is one of the gentlemen of our game

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Ahmed Shehzad is maturing with each innings

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014: Shakib-al-Hasan roars back with 6-wicket haul

TE Srinivasan: Graceful at the crease and in death

Duleep Trophy 2014-15: Six things we learnt from the quarter-finals and semi-finals

Fazal Mahmood engineers Pakistan’s first ever Test match victory

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

ISL 2014, 12th Match: Delhi Dynamos FC 4-1 Chennaiyin FC in Pics

Dear IAF, every smartphone not just Xiaomi could be a security threat

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Bigg Boss 8 day 34 highlights: Salman Khan makes fun of Sonali Raut’s kamchor behaviour, RJ Pritam Singh entertains!

Apple to merge Beats Music with iTunes next year as music sales fall 14 percent in 2014: WSJ

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

WTA Finals 2014: Sania Mirza and Cara Black shock Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik to secure final berth

Anil Kapoor ropes in a new director for son Harshvardhan’s next?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here