Billy Bestwick (left) and Willie Quaife Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia & heanorhistory.org
June 5, 1922. As Willie Quaife and Bernard Quaife stitched together a partnership for Warwickshire, Billy Bestwick and Robert Bestwick bowled in tandem. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the only occasion in First-Class cricket when one father and son duo batted against another.
Like father like son
There have been many occasions when sons have followed fathers into the outfield and onto the 22 yards. After all much of the talent can be passed down through good genes, and a childhood spent watching the old man’s fanatical devotion to the noble game can work wonders.
It is, however, strikingly rare to find the father and son appearing in the same match – but it has happened quite a few times. From the 1850s when William Lillywhite played alongside sons John and James, and William Clarke turned out with son Arthur in tow, there have been multiple instances when father-son combinations have been seen together on the field. This includes, among others, the great WG Grace with son WG Grace Jr, then again with CB Grace; Lebrun and Learie Constantine, Dave and Dudley Nourse, Walter and Charles Robins, Lala and Surinder Amarnath and Denis and Heath Streak.
Among these, the Nourses ended up opposing each other on the field, as did the Amarnaths.
However, one summer day of June in 1922, one saw the unique confluence of two father and son pairs facing off against each other. At the county ground of Derby, Willie Quaife and son Bernard turned out for Warwickshire while Billy Bestwick and son Robert represented the hosts.
If that was not enough, for ten minutes on the second day of the match the Bestwicks bowled in tandem while the Quaifes enjoyed a partnership. This feat of one father and son combination bowling at another has never been seen in First-Class cricket before or since.
As can be expected, the fathers were much better cricketers. Indeed, if one is still good enough to make it to the side when his son has grown into his full-sized flannels, it stands to reason that he must be a cricketer of considerable skill.
Willie Quaife was for long a bulwark of Warwickshire batting, short, solid yet stylish, who could also bowl both medium pace and leg-spin. Between 1899 to 1902 he played 7 Tests for England and toured Australia with the national side. His son Bernard Quaife was not nearly in the same class as a batsman, but with the additional skill of wicket-keeping he enjoyed a rather long First-Class career for Warwickshire and later Worcestershire.In this match, thought, Bernard played as a specialist batsman with Tiger Smith keeping wickets for Warwickshire.
Likewise Billy Bestwick was a fast-medium bowler of considerable ability who opened the Derbyshire bowling for 27 years. Robert Bestwick, on the other hand, played only 5 matches spread between three seasons, sharing the dressing room with his father in two of them. One of these 2 matches was this Derbyshire-Warwickshire showdown of 1922.
Derbyshire had first hit, and the visiting attack spearheaded by England bowler Harry Howell immediately had the home batsmen in trouble.From 33 for 3, Samuel Cadman and captain Guy Jackson put together a decent partnership when the senior Quaife proceeded to stamp his authority on the game. At 100 for 3, the home team looked pretty comfortable when Willie Quaife dismissed both the batsmen in quick succession. With the breach made, Howell ran through the rest of the batting, with Willie Quaife accounting for the other proud father of the match – Billy Bestwick. Derbyshire folded for 130.
The Bestwicks now opened the bowling for the hosts, and Warwickshire tottered through an equally poor start. By the end of the day Willie Quaife was once again in the thick of things. Billy Bestwick got Horace Venn caught at the wicket, a couple of more wickets tumbled and Quaife senior walked in at 31 for 3. By the end of the day he was unbeaten on 28, with the score reading 84 for 4.
On the morning of June 5, Tiger Smith and Willie Quaife took the score to 99 when Billy Bestwick got rid of the wicketkeeper. And at this juncture, Bernard Quaife strode in to join his father at the wicket.
Father and son added 49 crucial runs. Perhaps the situation of the match demanded it or it may be that the sense of history was strong in captain Guy Jackson. He put on the Bestwicks together as the Quaifes batted. This was carried on for ten full minutes.
This move did not achieve the breakthrough – it was another relation who finally ended the stand. Anthony Jackson, cousin of the Derbyshire captain, induced Bernard Quaife to hit one back to him for 20.
Quaife senior went on to bat for four-and-a-half hours to score 107, one of his 72 centuries in First-Class cricket, before he was bowled by Bestwick junior. Warwickshire managed 239 – no one other than Willie Quaife got more than 31. Billy Bestwick picked up 4 wickets while Robert Bestwick accounted for 2.
Howell and captain Freddie Calthorpe made short work of the Derbyshire batsmen when they batted again. Willie Quaife was not required to do much bowling and had to be satisfied with just 1 wicket. The hosts were all out for 122, enabling Warwickshire to wrap up the game on the second day itself.
Derbyshire and Warwickshire met again in August of that year, this time at Edgbaston. But, Bestwick senior did not play, and neither did Quaife junior. Rain allowed just about one day’s play, and during the action Willie Quaife picked up 2 for 15. But, he did not get a chance to bat. Robert Bestwick bowled 6 wicketless overs and did not play First-Class cricket again.
Derbyshire 130 (Samuel Cadman 42; Harry Howell 5 for 60) and 122 (Joseph Bowden 45; Harry Howell 4 for 50, Freddie Calthorpe 4 for 31) lost to Warwickshire 239 (Willie Quaife 107; Billy Bestwick 4 for 66) and 14 for no loss by 10 wickets.
(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)