This Championship match of 1947 was played between home side Derbyshire and visiting Essex at Chesterfield. Derbyshire won the toss and elected to bat in this three-day affair.
Almost immediately, Raymond Smith drew first blood, as he bowled Charles Elliott for only 2 to make it 8/1, upon which Trevor Bailey, later to play 61 Tests for England, took over. Bailey, with his fast-medium pace accounted for Thomas Worthington, George Pope and Albert Alderman, whereas Denis Smith was run out – as the hosts slumped to 89/5. However, opening batsman Arnold Townsend hung on, scoring a crucial 86. Thomas Peter Bromley Smith, called Peter Smith (3/59) took the next three wickets, while Bailey (5/83) came back to end the Derbyshire innings at 223, after a defying 9th wicket stand between captain Edward Gothard and Clifford Gladwin.
The Essex openers Thomas Dodds and Stanley Cray replied with a steady start to reach 30/0, but then the seam duo of William Copson and Pope ran through the batting line-up. Copson removed the openers and Alfred Avery while Pope sent back Harry Crabtree and Richard Horsfall, as Essex crashed to 51/5. Wickets continued to fall, but Frank Vigar, who came in at No.5, held fort. Essex ended Day 1 at 173/8. However, when number eleven Peter Smith went in at 199/9 to replace his cousin Raymond, few would have anticipated anything out of the ordinary, and Derbyshire seemed set for a narrow lead.
Primarily a leg-break bowler, Peter Smith could bat a bit and was often shuffled across the order. Back in 1936, he had scored a century in 80 minutes against Hampshire. But now aged 39 and in his benefit year, he was kept at No.11, plus in the previous match against Worcestershire he was out for a pair. He deserved his place at No.11 on his form, but in this game, he made a mockery of it all.
Joining Vigar at 199/9, Peter Smith smashed an astonishing 163 in 140 minutes. Vigar steadily went on to reach his own hundred. When Smith was finally out for 163, with 22 fours and 3 sixes, the two had put on a stunning 218 runs for the last wicket, with Vigar remaining unbeaten on 114. Essex finally scored 417, and Smith’s extraordinary feat had assured them of a safe 194 run lead. Bailey added another fifer, 5/92 to give him ten for the match, while Raymond Smith took 4/122 as Derbyshire made 304 in the second innings. However, they were rescued by a rearguard effort of their own, recovering from 170/8, reaching 209/8 at stumps on Day 2, before finally reaching 304 courtesy stands of 72 and 62 for the last two wickets.
Set a target of 111, Peter Smith was understandably promoted to No.3, but he could manage only 4, getting caught off Copson. Copson and Pope took two each as the top order came a cropper again, getting reduced to 36/4, but further panic was averted by the solid Vigar, who scored an unbeaten 40 to see his county home by 5 wickets, helping them reach 114/5.
Smith’s 163 remains the highest ever first class score by a No.11, while the last wicket stand of 218 with Vigar is an Essex record. In the end, the 1947 season turned out to be great for Peter Smith, as he made 1063 runs and took 172 wickets – the first time he achieved the ‘double’ of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season. Moreover, his wickets tally of 1947 is an Essex record for a single season.
In a 22 year first class career spanning from 1929 to 1951, Smith turned out for Essex in 465 matches, and this knock of 163 at No.11 is his highest score, though he made seven other centuries too. But more importantly, he took 1697 wickets, including 122 five-wicket hauls at 26.55 with his leg break googlies – another Essex record. He played four Tests for England from 1946 to 1947.
Match Scorecard – http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/18/18210.html