George Hirst finished with 8.5-4-12-6 and 11.2-8-7-6 © Getty Images
George Hirst finished with 8.5-4-12-6 and 11.2-8-7-6 © Getty Images

On May 8, 1908 George Hirst demolished Northamptonshire twice in a single day. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the day when a county side was bowled out 42 runs.

The first day of the match had passed away rather without an event. David Denton impressed with the bat, scoring a well-compiled 110, well-supported by Wilfred Rhodes (40) and George Hirst (44). The two Kirkheaton all-rounders batted well, and helped Denton pile up the runs. Yorkshire ended the day at 333 for 8.

After some anxious moments, Harold Kaye finally declared the innings at 356 for 8 — all ten batsmen reaching double figures. Roger Hawtin, the Northants medium-pace bowler, picked up 5 for 78.

Yorkshire took field, and Northamptonshire needed to score 207 to avoid the follow-on.

Hirst took the new ball, and Schofield Haigh opened bowling with him. Within minutes Hirst went past Mark Cox’s defence, and then trapped Rawlins Hawtin — Roger’s brother, also making his First-Class debut — leg-before. Little did he know that he would be the only batsman to be out in that manner in the innings.

Schofield Haigh, bowling from the other end, cleaned up George Vials for a duck. Billy Kingston followed soon, for 8 — which eventually turned out to be the highest score of the innings. The Northamptonshire innings folded for 27 in 16.5 overs. George Thompson, nursing an injury, did not bat. Eight of the nine wickets to fall were bowled.

The inimitable Hirst, in the opinion of many the greatest all-rounder in the world (and in the opinion of some others not even the best right-hand batting and left-arm bowling all-rounder from Kirkheaton), bowling his left-arm swerves, was nigh-unplayable at Northampton that day. He finished with figures of 8.5-4-12-6, while Haigh supported him ably with 8-1-11-3.

The Northamptonshire team had probably thought that the dark time had passed for them, and the twin menace of Hirst and Haigh can be dealt with (though they still had Rhodes to deal with). Surely it could not get worse than being bowled out for 27, could it?

How wrong they were. No one had ever got away with Hirst at his peak. Northants did not stand a chance.

Once again Hirst began the destruction, picking up Cox and Rawlins Hawtin (who was leg-before — yet again). And then, after Hirst removed Kingston as well, the unthinkable happened: Hirst removed Vials for 5 (the eventual highest score of the innings) — caught by Hubert Myers.

Caught! Who would have thought something like that might have happened! Hirst and Haigh had been picking them out without the assistance of any fielder till now, but now that stint was broken. Not that it helped Northamptonshire, though.

The rest followed in a blur. From 9 for 2 Northamptonshire collapsed to 15 all out in 22.2 overs, which meant that they had lost their last 8 wickets for a paltry 6. Hirst finished with 11.2-8-7-6 (giving him match figures of 20.1-12-19-12), while Haigh proved to be the perfect ally with 11-6-8-3 (match figures of 19-7-18-6).

Northamptonshire’s 42 in 39.1 overs turned out to be the lowest First-Class match aggregate for any side (it remained so till Border scored 16 and 18 against Natal in 1959-60; it still remains the second-lowest). Not a single Northants player got into double-figures, and they lost the match by a whopping innings and 314 runs on only the second day. Of the 18 wickets to fall (George Thompson did not bat again), 13 were bowled, 4 leg-before, and only one batsman was caught.

Not only had Hirst blown them away, he had also scored more in his only innings than what the entire Northamptonshire side had in the entire match. His job done, Hirst returned to the Yorkshire dressing-room a content man, looking forward to another day under the sun.

Brief scores:

Yorkshire 356 for 8 declared (David Denton 110, George Hirst 44, Wilfred Rhodes 40; Rawlins Hawtin 5 for 78) defeated Northamptonshire 27 (George Hirst 6 for 12, Schofield Haigh 3 for 11) and 15 (George Hirst 6 for 7, Schofield Haigh 3 for 8) by an innings and 314 runs.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ovshake and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)