Cricket is renowned as a great character-building sport - not least because, if you get a bit ahead of yourself, 'Mother Cricket' invariably notices and brings you down to earth with a bump.
This Freddie Calthorpe discovered when he led Warwickshire in perhaps the most remarkable County Championship match of them all. Ninety-eight years on, coincidentally on the same day that Warwickshire would have started a match versus Hampshire Brian Halford reports.
When Hampshire visited Edgbaston for a County Championship match on 14 June 1922, for the first few hours, nothing out of the ordinary happened.
There had been some rain, so Hampshire captain Lionel Tennyson (grandson of Alfred, the famous poet) put Warwickshire in. Freddie Santall (84) and Bears captain Freddie Calthorpe (70) took their side to 166 for three before a collapse to 223 all out. It was interesting cricket, but unremarkable.
At 4pm, Hampshire began their reply. From that moment, the cricket became utterly, you-wouldn’t-make-it-up, remarkable.
The first stirrings of history in the making arrived when Hampshire hit nought for three. Their main batsmen Philip Mead and Tennyson then put on five for the fourth wicket before the latter fell to Brummie paceman Harry Howell. That was to be the joint-highest partnership of the innings. In 40 minutes, Hampshire were all out for 15.
The innings was done and dusted in 8.5 overs. Howell, fast and accurate, finished with 4.5-2-7-6 and Calthorpe, obtaining some swing, 4-3-4-4. They meted out eight ducks and the total would have been even lower without four byes from a ball which swung away down the leg side and eluded wicketkeeper Tiger Smith.
It was a little baffling because the wicket had dried out and was now playing well. Mead, who went in at three and ended six not out, said: “Nobody bowled me anything that I couldn’t play in the middle.” Warwickshire secretary Rowland Ryder mused:
“Calthorpe and Howell bowled immensely well but it is simply impossible to explain how 11 first-class players were dismissed on a good wicket for so small a score.”Rowland Ryder
Hampshire followed on in the final session and reached the close on 98 for three – much more respectable, but still 110 behind.
It was at this point that Calthorpe, perhaps understandably in the circumstances, got a bit cocky. Tall, amiable and aristocratic (his family owned the land on which Warwickshire’s ground stood), he was a golf fanatic and founder of the Cricketers’ Golf Society. He proposed that, since the game was bound to finish early next day, the amateurs on the two sides should head to a local course for a round. Tennyson responded to the offer ‘with a flood of good Anglo-Saxon’ and bet Calthorpe a tenner that Hampshire would still win the cricket match.
Mother Cricket had also, it seemed, noted the swagger of the Warwickshire captain. Hampshire closed the second day on 475 for nine.
When John Newman sent up a return catch to Billy Quaife to make it 177 for six – still 31 behind – golf still seemed a reasonable plan. But genial giant George Brown and old Etonian William Shirley added 85 to ensure the Bears would have to bat again.
Hampshire were making a fist of it, but at 274 for eight, 66 ahead, it still appeared no more than valiant but futile resistance. They were far from finished.
Wicketkeeper Walter Livsey joined the left-handed Brown and the pair added 177 for the ninth wicket. Brown struck 172 (285 minutes, 18 fours) and when he finally fell, bowled by leggie Cyril Smart, even then the Bears’ punishment wasn’t over. On the third morning, last man George Boyes helped add 70 with Livsey who was unbeaten on 110 when Howell finally bowled Boyes to finish the innings at 521. Howell followed his first innings 4.5-2-7-6 with 63-10-146-3 and Calthorpe his 4-3-4-4 with 33-7-97-2.
Warwickshire required 314 to win but 161 overs in the field had taken it out of them. They were bowled out for 158 as Alex Kennedy and Newman, danders well and truly up, shared nine wickets and Hampshire, bowled out for 15 in their first innings, won the match by 155 runs.
Tennyson collected his tenner and did a highland fling in the post-match shower. Calthorpe’s response is not recorded – though, as one of cricket’s true nice guys, he probably offered the Hampshire chaps his sincere congratulations – and then headed for the golf-course anyway…