The sort of comeback engineered by Hampshire against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in the 1922 County Championship is unlikely to be seen again. This intriguing match took place between 14th and 16th June, 1922.
Hampshire captain, the Hon. Lionel Tennyson, decided to put the home team in after winning the toss. The wicket was affected by overnight rain, yet it did not appear treacherous. The Warwickshire innings revolved around a 122-run fourth-wicket partnership between Frederick Santall and captain, the Hon. Frederick Calthorpe.
Better known as F.S.G. Calthorpe, he was the same man who would refuse to enforce the follow-on on the West Indies in a Test at Kingston in 1929-30, in spite of a 563-run lead!
Santall and Calthorpe scored 84 and 70 respectively, as Warwickshire ended their innings at 223. Medium pacer Jack Newman and left armer Stuart Boyes led the bowling for Hampshire, although Newman was carted at almost six runs an over.
Hampshire would have been fairly happy with their bowling performance, but their batting in the first innings was nothing short of nightmarish. The visitors could post a team total of only 15 in 8.5 overs – currently the joint fifth-lowest total of all time, and then the lowest since 1901.
The Hampshire team that took on Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1922 (source – hampshirecrickethistory.wordpress.com)
After playing a part in Warwickshire’s total, which now looked gargantuan, Calthorpe scalped 4/4 while fellow paceman Harry Howell collected 6/7. The first three wickets were all ducks, as Hampshire slid to 0/3 in four overs.
The England left-handed batsman Phil Mead was the only one to come out of the rubble with his head held high, scoring a regal 6* and hitting one of the two boundaries (the Hon. Tennyson chipped in with the other).
The score went on to further levels of mediocrity, as 5/5 in the fifth over became 10/8 in the eighth, and finally to 15 an over later. With 20 wickets falling in less than 62 overs, the pitch now seemed anything but comfortable to bat on. Hampshire were staring at a big defeat, possibly within two days.
This time Calthorpe did enforce the follow-on, unlike nearly eight years later at Kingston. Hampshire, trailing by 208, ended the first day at 98/3 – still a wobbly position – as 23 wickets fell on the day.
Even though Alex Bowell and Tennyson scored 45 runs each, Hampshire hardly looked like saving the game, let alone win it, when placed at 177/6 on the second day – still 31 in arrears.
Left-handed batsman George Brown, who was batting at number six and who won seven England caps, then got engaged in a 85-run stand for the seventh wicket with William Shirley (30), which helped the visitors to mop off the deficit. But he was in danger of being stranded not out, as his side pulled to 274/8, a lead of just 66.
Enter wicket-keeper Walter Livsey – who until then had a collection of 181 runs in 36 innings. Brown cleverly farmed the bowling, while ensuring that Livsey was kept away from the strike.
With the new ball due, the end of the innings seemed a formality. But Calthorpe thought otherwise, and chose not to take a fresh cherry. By and by, the partnership grew, and when Brown was finally out for 172, the stand had been worth 177. The lead was now a healthy 243, as Hampshire ended Day Two at 475/9.
The following day, Livsey reached a century of his own. He ended at 110 not out, adding 70 for the last wicket with Boyes. Hampshire piled up a total of 521, thereby setting a bewildered Warwickshire a target of 314.
A book by Neil Jenkinson as a tribute to Hampshire’s amazing win (source – amazon.co.uk)
The day seemed to be drifting away and the home team were comfortably placed at 77/1, when Newman struck mayhem. Warwickshire went on to lose five wickets for 12 runs over the next hour to slump to 89/6, with Newman taking four of them. Willie Quaife, who came in at number four, kept the battle alive with a fighting, and ultimately unbeaten, 40.
But the wickets continued to fall at the other end. It was Newman (5/53) who scalped Howell for his fifth victim to script Warwickshire’s demise, as the hosts were bowled out for 158 in 68.3 overs. Paceman Alex Kennedy provided vital support with 4/47.
Hampshire had won by 155 runs, leaving Calthorpe to wonder how on earth did Warwickshire even find themselves chasing 314 on the final day. While the bowlers were taken by surprise by the assault from Brown and Livsey, the batsmen probably could not fathom the turn of events, and eventually succumbed to the unlikeliest of defeats.
Wisden aptly stated – ‘The victory taken as a whole, must surely be without precedent in first-class cricket.’ And surely, no team had ever won nor has since won after being bowled out for such a low first-innings total.
For the record, Hampshire finished sixth that season while Warwickshire ended at a lowly twelfth, with Yorkshire winning the title.