Twenty four years ago, Franklyn Stephenson managed to reach the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a county season by scoring two hundreds and taking 11 wickets in the final fixture of the season. Arunabha Sengupta recalls his heroic feats.
When the last match of the season started, Franklyn Stephenson of Nottinghamshire still needed 210 runs to reach the rare double of thousand runs and hundred wickets in a season. It had been achieved just once since the number of matches was reduced drastically from 1969. Fellow Nottinghamshire all-rounder Richard Hadlee had managed it in 1984.
The Barbadian fast bowling all-rounder Stephenson - one of the best players never to have played Test cricket - looked unlikely to get there.
After all, he had scored a century only once in his career, a night-watchman’s dream innings of 165 for Barbados against a Leeward Island attack spearheaded by Andy Roberts – described as one of the finest displays of clean hitting ever witnessed in the Shell Shield.
In the previous season, he had scored seven half-centuries for Nottinghamshire. However, with well over 100 wickets in the 1988 season, he was viewed by the team management as a bowler, with captain Tim Robinson refusing to allow him to bat higher than No 7.
As the match started in Trent Bridge, Stephenson bowled beautifully, picking up four for 105 as Yorkshire scored 380. And on the second day, for this last game, he was promoted to No 6 and hammered 111 in a total of 296.
After the late-order collapse had left them 84 runs in the arrears, Stephenson bowled through the third day, picking up all the Yorkshire wickets to fall in the second innings, ending up with seven for 117 as the visitors declared at 340 for seven. His final match figures read 11 for 222, taking his season’s tally to 125 wickets.
September 17, 1988
A few hours before he went out to bat on the final day, Stephenson confessed that getting the remaining 99 runs to reach the double in the season would be a tough ask. But, coming in to bat at 83 for four, he took the attack by the collar, blasting the ball all over the ground. Midway through the afternoon, he cracked Neil Hartley past backward point to reach his second hundred of the match, thereby also reaching 1000 runs in the season.
When Stuart Fletcher trapped him leg before, he had scored 117, a punishing innings with 92 in boundaries. In spite of his brilliance, Nottinghamshire lost the match by 127 runs.
However, the final figures make for fascinating reading.
No one has achieved the double in the county championships since Stephenson’s dream end to the 1988 season.
It was also only the third time in the history of First-class cricket that a player took ten wickets and scored two hundreds in the same match. The inventor of the googly, BJT Bosanquet, was the first to perform this staggering feat in 1905, and George Hirst had done it the following year.
Additionally, a slightly dubious record of scoring two batting hundreds while conceding two bowling centuries in the same match is also unique in its own way. But, with 11 wickets to go with the runs given away, not too many were complaining.
(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)