Amiss, Woolmer and Wight: Part one

23 September 2018

Brian Halford takes a look back at an end of season game against Kent that's connected to Brian Lara's 501.

When Warwickshire played Kent at Edgbaston in the last game of the 1979 season, at one stage Bob Woolmer was bowling to Dennis Amiss under the watchful eye of umpire Peter Wight.

None of that distinguished trio could possibly know then that, 15 years later, they would be back together at Edgbaston at the heart of one of the most historic days in world cricket.

On June 6, 1994, Amiss and Woolmer watched from the Edgbaston pavilion (as Bears chief executive and director of coaching respectively) as Brian Lara amassed the little matter of 501 against Durham – thanks to Wight, who spotted that Anderson Cummins had overstepped when he knocked out Lara’s leg-stump when the batsman had just 12.

Without Wight’s vigilance, Lara’s world record would never have happened. Let’s hear it for umpires!

It was all a bit less momentous during that match back in 1979 – though Warwickshire did at least deliver a resounding victory to give their fans some hope at the end of a wretched campaign.

As Wisden put it, “Warwickshire experienced the type of season every county dreads.” They went into the last championship match having won just two of 20 that season – and nobody expected a third win against a strong Kent side which had won trophies in most years throughout the ’70s.

But the Bears bit back – with victory by a whopping innings and 174 runs.

When Kent batted first, Woolmer opened but was soon dismissed lbw by acting Bears captain Bob Willis. That was Willis’s only wicket as the visitors were bowled out for 143 by back-up seamers Steve Perryman (four for 37) and David Hopkins (three for 21).

Warwickshire’s reply hit early turbulence when Derek Underwood removed David Smith and Andy Lloyd but thereafter the consistency of batting which had eluded them all season at last showed itself. Dennis Amiss made 96, Alvin Kallicharran 51, Geoff Humpage 38, Phil Oliver 79 and Chris Maynard 85 and even Rouse (21) and Willis (23) chipped in as the Bears piled up 434.

Willis then found his rhythm second time round. He removed Woolmer for just one, quickly added the scalp of England colleague Chris Tavare and went on to finish with five for 41.

Kent were all out for 117, as Wisden remarked, “leaving one to wonder what might have been accomplished had Warwickshire been able to produce performances of this calibre more frequently.”

At the end of the game, Amiss, Woolmer and Wight – three wonderful batsmen who together scored 76,968 first-class runs – shook hands and parted respectfully as the season quietly concluded. Fifteen years later, on a dazzling June day, they were present at a rather less quiet occasion…