Stan Nichols    Getty Images
Stan Nichols Getty Images

On July 5, 1935, Bill Bowes wreaked such havoc at Colchester that Stan Nichols was left stranded without a partner at the crease. Abhishek Mukherjee elaborates the queer goings-on.

There was nothing spectacular about the match per se. Yorkshire would win the County Championship for the season by a significant margin (71.3 points to Derbyshire s 63.3). Essex were not expected to put up a serious fight, and they did not.

Essex did bowl out Yorkshire for 253, but they barely surpassed that in their two innings combined (150 and 105). Yorkshire won by 226 runs. Bill Bowes (7 for 58 and 3 for 19) led the rout, while Hedley Verity had 1 for 5 and 5 for 17. Essex did not stand a chance against two bowlers of such class.

Bowes performance was barely surprising: in his previous match he had routed Northamptonshire with ridiculous figures of 8 for 18 and 8 for 17. Poor Northants had been bowled out for 62 and 52.

The incident took place on the final morning. Brian Sellers got his choice of the roller, Yorkshire added 2 to their overnight score, and declared. Essex were set 332.

Bowes got Jim Cutmore for a duck, but Roy Sheffield and Stan Nichols took the score to 39 for 1.Then Bowes got Sheffield caught by Maurice Leyland,Jack O Connor was run out for 2, and captain Tom Pearce fell for a duck. Essex slumped to 41 for 4 in the blink of an eye.

Charlie Bray was next. Meanwhile, Bowes had finished his over, and Verity commenced bowling from the other end. Nichols, in counterattacking mood, lofted him for six, for was offence not the best defence? What better way is there to release pressure than to hit a six?

Unfortunately, in the frenzy of the collapse, no one noticed that Bray had not yet arrived on the ground. It was a ridiculous oversight by the fielders, but for the umpires it was near-unpardonable. One of them, Len Braund, was a superstar of the yesteryear; the other, Frank Chester, is often acknowledged as the greatest umpire in history. How could they miss it?

Further confusion awaited the umpires when Bray arrived: what to do with the six? Should Nichols get the runs? Or should they be expunged? The umpires decided in favour of the latter.

Nichols was obviously unhappy at this new turn of events. It was never easy to hit Verity for six. It was obviously annoying to being stripped of the feat and six runs. He was trapped leg-before next ball.

Brief scores:

Yorkshire 253 (Brian Sellers 69; Stan Nichols 4 for 64, John Stephenson 4 for 92) and 228 for 5 decl. (Wilf Barber 73, Brian Sellers 57; Victor Evans 4 for 37) beat Essex 150 (Bill Bowes 7 for 58) and 105 (Bill Bowes 3 for 19, Hedley Verity 5 for 17) by 226 runs.