Giles John Toogood is currently working as a surgeon in Yorkshire. (Photo Courtesy: Screenshot from YouTube)
Giles John Toogood is currently working as a surgeon in Yorkshire (courtesy: YouTube screengrab)

Giles John Toogood. Yes, there was actually a First-Class cricketer of that name! In fact, he was the second known Toogood among First-Class cricketers (the first being Thomas Toogood of Gloucestershire, whose career overlapped with WG Grace and Gilbert Jessop). But this is the tale of the greater of the Toogoods, probably the greatest of them all; we can even go ahead and call him Toobest. This is the story of July 4, 1985, the day he well and truly justified his name.

Born November 19, 1961 at West Bromwich, Straffordshire, the right-handed Giles Toogood played 34 First -Class matches for Oxford University between 1982 to 1989, scoring 1,403 runs with a highest of 149 and an average of 27.50. He scored one other century and 6 fifties in his short career. He also bowled both right-arm medium-pace and off-breaks, and had 26 wickets to his name. He also represented Shorpshire in 1991 and 1992, and Cambridgeshire in 1995, both in the Minor Counties Championship.

Toogood made his First-Class debut for Oxford University against Northamptonshire at The University Parks towards in April 1982, scoring a creditable 54 in the first innings, but not being called upon to bowl by his captain Richard Ellis.

The crowning all-round achievements of his First-Class career came, very appropriately, against traditional rivals Cambridge in the Varsity Match of 1985 at Lord’s, played over from July 3 to 5. In Cambridge’s 1st-innings total of 134, Toogood took his best bowling haul of 8 for 52 in an extended effort of 24 overs. One of his victims included Paul Roebuck, younger brother of Peter.

Oxford were 60 for 1 at stumps on Day 1, with Toogood batting on 14 and captain Andrew Miller on 27.

On Day 2, Miller declared the Oxford innings at 364 for 6, Toogood contributing 149 runs (in 321 minutes with 15 fours, his hundred coming up in 265 minutes) and sharing a 2nd-wicket partnership of 150 runs with Miller (78). This innings was his highest score in 57 innings.

Cambridge University ended Day Two on 35 for 2, Toogood having accounted for both wickets to fall, finishing with 2 for 42, rounding off a remarkable match for him. The match petered out to a draw the next day, with Cambridge finishing on 141 for 3. The third wicket went to a certain Richard Sohrab Rutnagur, who later became a celebrated name in cricket journalism.

A look through the bowling performances of the Oxford players against Cambridge in First-Class cricket from 1827 onwards is quite revealing:

- Samuel Butler heads the list with 10 for 38 in the Cambridge 1st innings at Lord’s in June 1871.

- This is followed by Godfrey Lee, who, in June 1839 at Lord’s, had taken 9 wickets in the Cambridge 1st innings for an unspecified number of runs. The fact that Oxford were represented by only 10 men in this match adds a bit of intrigue to the situation.

- Gerald Yonge is next with 8 wickets in the 1st innings of Cambridge in June 1845; once again the number of runs conceded remains unknown. This was a 2-day match.

As can be seen from the above, accurate scorecards were not always available for the earlier matches. Things gradually got better-documented, and we find our man Giles Toogood next in the honours list with 8 for 52 in the match mentioned above, ahead of Reginald Bettington (8 for 66 in 1923), Edward Kenney (8 for 68 in 1868), the exotically named Philip le Couteur (8 for 99 in 1911) and Jock Hartley (8 for 161 in 1896) among those bowlers to take 8 wickets in an innings. Toogood might also have had better figures than Yonge.

There is an interesting footnote: It may be mentioned that of the five double-hundreds in Varsity Matches till date, the top three names belong to Indians: Samridh Sunil Agarwal (313* in 2013), Salil Oberoi (247 in 2005) and Iftikhar Ali Khan — The Nawab of Pataudi, Sr — (238* in 1931). The set is completed by Jamie Dalrymple (236* in 2003) and Mike Smith (201* in 1954).]

Let us return to Giles Toogood, who played his last First-Class match, his 34th, against Surrey at Oxford in April 1989, scoring 19 in his only innings and picking up 1 for 107 in the Surrey 1st innings. With this match, FINIS came to be written at the bottom of the story of his First-Class cricketing exploits. He, however, answered the call of a higher calling, graduated as a Doctor and is currently offering solace to suffering humanity as a surgeon in Yorkshire.

Brief scores:

Cambridge University 134 (Antony Lea 41; Giles Toogood 8 for 52) and 141 for 3 (Antony Lea 47*, Shaun Gorman 43) drew with Oxford University 364 for 6 (Andrew Miller 78, Giles Toogood 149, John Carr 84*; Charles Ellison 3 for 76, Chris Andrew 3 for 101).

(Pradip Dhole is a retired medical doctor with a life-long interest in cricket history and statistics)