“BOLTON, BENJAMIN CHARLES (1861-1910). Ben Bolton’s first victim in first-class cricket was WG Grace. He had previously played for Hornsea and had a long spell with Hull Town whom he captained for many years. He excelled at several sports and died in hospital after falling from an express train.”
Not everyone who has played for Yorkshire CCC, of course, has met his end in such gruesome circumstances, with or without the involvement of a train.
But the names of Messrs Hunt and Bolton, among myriad others, names now long-forgotten in the Yorkshire cricketing circles in which they once moved, are happily perpetuated in a new book entitled Who’s Who of The Yorkshire County Cricket Club by Paul Dyson, which gives brief portraits of all who have represented the White Rose county.
From the alphabetical span of Alfred Ackroyd to Yuvraj Singh, and from the chronological stretch of Isaac Hodgson in 1863 to Kraigg Brathwaite in 2017, it profiles the 670 men at the time of writing who had represented the club in first-class cricket, limited overs games or T20 matches, as well as the 59 who had played prior to the club’s official formation in 1863, such as the aforementioned tragic Thomas Hunt.
That figure has now risen to 675 following the appearances last summer of Jeet Raval, Josh Poysden, Mat Pillans, James Logan and Jordan Thompson, with the history of Yorkshire CCC an ever-evolving tapestry of tragedy, triumph and everything in between.
It is a history in which Dyson is steeped as the author of several Yorkshire cricket books, sometimes in tandem with the equally excellent Mick Pope, to which he has added another tour de force of study and research.
Whether the cricketers in question played in 883 games, such as the club’s record appearance holder, Wilfred Rhodes, or on just a solitary occasion, which applies to 115 of the players listed, each is afforded their own special place.
The real joy and value of this book, though, certainly to those of us who are reasonably cognisant of Yorkshire’s history and its greatest players, is not so much the lustrous names listed, the likes of Rhodes, Hirst, Trueman and Boycott, but the relatively minor names brought back into the light.
Consequently, one comes across such quirky gems as…
“CORBETT, ALEXANDER MELVIN (1855-1934). After early cricket with Elsecar and Rotherham, Alexander Corbett made a pair in his only game for Yorkshire. In his first innings he was caught off bat and forehead by WG Grace.”
“HILL, LEWIS GORDON (1860-1940). Lewis Hill’s only known recorded involvement in cricket is his one first-class match and this took place at Derby. He batted at number three.”
“ATKINSON, HENRY TOM (1881-1959). Making a pair and taking neither a wicket nor a catch against Worcestershire at Bradford summed up Harry Atkinson’s experience of first-class cricket. His club cricket was for Driffield, for whom he opened the batting. He served as a county councillor and on his death certificate his second forename is Tran.”
Occasionally, an entry leaves you yearning to know a bit more, if only the space or scope permitted.
Of James Yeadon, a wicketkeeper who played three games for Yorkshire in the 19th century…
“His career ended when a leg was crushed in a mix-up over a run-out.”
Of Charles Henry Wheater, a batsman who played two games at the Scarborough Festival in 1880, and who died in 1885, aged 25…
“He suffered from complex health problems.”
And, of Geoffrey Wilson, who led Yorkshire to three County Championship titles between 1922 and 1924…
“He resigned the captaincy after a problem in a match with Middlesex.”
Even for those of us who have written about Yorkshire CCC for many years, there are some “you-learn-something-new-everyday moments”.
I must confess, for instance, that I had no idea that Eleanor Oldroyd, the BBC sports presenter, is the great-granddaughter of Edgar Oldroyd, one of the finest Yorkshire batsmen never to play Test cricket.
Oldroyd, who represented the club from 1910-1931, made the No 3 position his own behind the celebrated opening pair of Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe.
The book, to which the Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon provides a fine forward, also contains some resonant remarks.
Of the Pakistani batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq…
“He played six games in two formats for Yorkshire towards the end of the (2007) season and found the experience rather chilly.”
And, of Richard Harden, a batsman who moved to Yorkshire in 1999 after a long career with Somerset…
“He was past his best by then and he contributed little in either form of the game. He remains one of the county’s most odd signings.”
So, the thanks of Yorkshire cricket followers must go to Paul Dyson, along with Mick Pope (who came up with the concept and provided much of the research), for a volume that does justice to the considerable extent of the challenge presented.
As Moxon writes: “It is an incredibly detailed publication and one that I’m sure anyone with an interest in Yorkshire cricket will find fascinating and informative.”
Who’s Who of The Yorkshire County Cricket Club by Paul Dyson is published by Great Northern Books, priced £19.99.