Matthew John Wood of Somerset (left) shone in the same match against Matthew John Wood of Yorkshire © Getty Images
Matthew James Wood of Somerset (left) shone in the same match against Matthew James Wood of Yorkshire © Getty Images

It is not every day that you find two men with identical three-word full names playing the same match, but exactly that happened on June 13, 2001 at Bath. Abhishek Mukherjee recollects a tale of two Matthew John Woods.

There have been namesakes in cricket, especially at First-Class cricket. There have also been cricketers with identical three-word names. However, two of them playing in the same match is certainly a rarity. However, County Championship Division I of 2001 witnessed exactly that during a Somerset-Yorkshire contest at Bath.

The Huddersfield-born Matthew James Wood was a sound batsman, but found himself in and out of Yorkshire since 1997. He was especially prolific in 1998 with 1,080 at 46.95 with four hundreds including 200 not out against Warwickshire at Headingley. He was in good form, having scored 90 in the previous match against Kent at Headingley.

Somerset, on the other hand, fielded another Matthew James Wood — a Devon-born debutant who had been drafted into the first XI following his 114 not out against Gloucestershire Second XI at Bristol. The match turned out to be a delight (or nightmare, depending on the way you look at it) for scorers and statisticians all over the world.

Wood of Somerset

As things turned out, both Matthew James Woods did exceptionally well. Yorkshire got an early wicket after David Byas put Somerset in, but Jamie Cox and Mike Burns put up 206 for the second stand when Matthew James Wood walked out.

Matthew James Wood batted with panache, scoring 71 from 131 balls with 11 fours, helping Burns put up 161 for the third wicket in 160 minutes. He was eventually caught-behind off Steve Kirby. Burns carried on before he fell for 221, and Cox declared the innings closed for 553 for 5 with Mark Lathwell unbeaten on 98. Lathwell had scored 99 in his previous outing against Surrey at The Oval.

Wood of Yorkshire

Matthew James Wood walked out with Scott Richardson. The pair batted extremely cautiously to put on 179 in 313 minutes before the latter was dismissed. Matthew James Wood brought up his hundred, and was the third man to be dismissed. He scored 124 in 223 balls with 14 fours and two sixes.

Yorkshire were reduced to 281 for 4, but Darren Lehmann (187 not out) made Somerset pay for dropping him on 49 and 93. He added 149 with Gary Fellows and an unbeaten 159 with Richard Blakey. Stumps were called when they were 589 for 5, 36 ahead of Somerset. Both sides finished with 10 points apiece (four for the draw in addition to five batting and one bowling point).

What followed?

– Yorkshire won the Championship for the first time since 1968. Somerset came second.

– Matthew James Wood of Somerset continued to play for them till 2007 before he moved to Nottinghamshire in 2008. He played for Notts till 2010. He finished with 5,332 First-Class runs at 32.91 with nine hundreds.

– Matthew James Wood of Yorkshire played for Yorkshire from 1997 to 2007 before turning up for Glamorgan for a single season. His career amounted to 7,032 runs at 32.70 (do note the near-identical averages) with 16 hundreds.

– Poor Lathwell, playing his last season, never scored another hundred. In fact, in his last match — against Northamptonshire at Taunton — he was dismissed for 92.

Brief scores:

Somerset 553 for 5 decl. (Jamie Cox 95, Mike Burns 221, Matthew James Wood 71, Mark Lathwell 98*) drew with Yorkshire 589 for 5 (Scott Richardson 68, Matthew James Wood 124, Darren Lehmann 187, Gary Fellows 63, Richard Blakey 78*).

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)