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Fred Root was one-half of one of the most iconic scorecard entries. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

July 12, 1913. The only time c Beet b Root appeared on the scoreboard of a First-Class match. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the game in which the Beet-Root combination struck for the first and only time for Derbyshire.

Fred Root — wonderful bowler and a sterling character, a hardened professional who played 365 First-Class matches, including three times for England in that celebrated 1926 Ashes series.

A promising bowler for Derbyshire for whom he turned out for five full seasons, his career was interrupted by the Great War. During the hostilities, he was struck on the chest while riding as a military messenger. Thankfully he recovered and after the War moved to Worcestershire in 1921 and served them till 1932. It was for his new county that he developed into an in-swing bowler who ran in with a  packed leg-side field, five fielders close to the bat. Yes, he was one of the first proponents of leg-theory.

Later he played many seasons in the Lancashire league, coached Leicestershire and wrote that wonderfully informative and entertaining autobiography ‘A Cricket Pro’s Lot’. Remembering Malcolm Marshall’s Manchester Mayhem

George Beet was four years older and less accomplished as a cricketer. A decent wicketkeeper and a gutsy, if limited, batsman, he hovered on the fringes of the Derbyshire side for most of his career without quite establishing himself (his son George Beet jr also kept wickets for Derbyshire). The regular wicketkeeper for the county in the pre-World War One days was Joe Humphries and Beet had to be satisfied with just the occasional foray into his reliable boots and gloves. 1975 World Cup: Jeff Thomson wanted for assault and battery

Beet and Root played for Derbyshire Colts against their Leicestershire counterparts in June, 1910. That was before the former had made his First-Class debut and the latter was just three games old. Beet kept wickets and Root picked up two wickets. Thus, TS Beddow was stranded outside the crease off the medium pacer’s bowling as the stumper whipped off the bails. This little known cricketer had the distinction of becoming the first batsman to be dismissed by the Beet-Root combination in a serious match, and the scoreboard showed TS Beddow st Beet b Root 5.

However, for such a mouth-watering method of dismissal in First-Class cricket, the world had to wait much longer.

It was not until 1912 that Beet and Root played together for Derbyshire. It was against Essex at Leyton and Beet kept wickets as Root bowled. But Peter Perrin hit a double hundred, Charlie McGahey 150, Essex piled up 609 for four, and Root’s 14 overs cost 72 runs without a wicket.

Beet kept wickets in two more matches in that season, against Hampshire and Sussex, but Root did not bowl in those games. The trivia lovers, waiting with bated breath, as their spiritual descendants would many years later for Lillee c Willey b Dilley to appear on the scoreboard, kept going home disappointed. World Cup 1975: Glenn Turner’s 171, the first huge innings

The following season saw Beet tried out as a batsman, with moderate success. He batted at No 3 against a strong Nottinghamshire bowling attack and remained unbeaten on 39 as the side was bowled out for 121.

The following match against Sussex started at the County Ground, Derby, on July 10, 1913, and an injury to Humphries early in the match saw Beet donning the big gloves. Yet, even as he caught three batsmen in the first innings, Root remained wicket-less. Beet slid his hands into the smaller gloves and scored 59 from No 3 as Derbyshire replied with 285 to Sussex’s first innings score of 322. World Cup 1992: Rollicking Ranatunga clinches it from South Africa

Thus, on the final day of the match, July 12, 1913, Sussex batted again. With the score at 116 for 6, captain Herbert Chaplin and all-rounder Vallence Jupp were at the crease.

And at this juncture, it happened. Root struck, getting Chaplin to snick one and Beet held the catch behind the wicket. For the first time in First-Class cricket the scoreboard showed c Beet b Root.

The moment the trivia gang was waiting for. How did Don Bradman fare against Clarrie Grimmett?

What followed?

The match ended in an unremarkable draw, with Beet losing his stumps for a personal score of 1 off the final ball of the game.

During that season and the following one, Root and Beet appeared for Derbyshire together in eight more matches, but could not combine to bring about any other dismissal.

After the War, Beet played most of the 1919 season while Root spent the summer recovering from the trauma of the intervening years. In 1920, Beet kept the wickets as Root played one more match for Derbyshire, this time against Lancashire at Chesterfield. But, the bowler sent down only six overs and did not pick up a wicket. Root did not play for Derbyshire again. The first match at the Melbourne Cricket Club

The following season saw Root moving to Worcestershire and embarking on a successful second phase of his career with leg-theory. Meanwhile, Beet lost his place behind the stumps to Harry Elliott, and played only a few more matches.

After playing his last match in 1925, from the following season, Beet took to umpiring. He stood in 291 recorded First-Class matches, including the 1946 Test at Old Trafford between India and England. He was one of the officials as Alec Bedser picked up 7 wickets while Ranga Sohoni and Datta Hindlekar played out time with nine second innings wickets down. The umpire at the other end was the legendary Frank Chester. The Melbourne Cricket Club is formed

That Test match happened to be Beet’s last First-Class game as umpire. On his way home from the game, he was taken ill on the train and died five months later.

Root himself also moved to umpiring, and stood in 35 First-Class matches. However, his long stint in the Lancashire League, right up to the start of the Second World War, saw him kick off his umpiring days only in 1947, after the death of his former teammate.

A pity that the Beet-Root combination did not officiate together in any game.

Brief Scores of the Beet-Root match

Sussex 322 (Herbert Wilson 76, Joseph Vine 136, Bob Relf 60; Arthur Morton 6 for 63) and 144 for 8 declared (Herbert Chaplin c Beet b Root 23) drew with Derbyshire 285 (Leonard Oliver 73, George Beet 59, Arthur Morton 59; Bob Relf 4 for 32) and 97 for 3 (Leonard Oliver 61*)

(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)