Yorkshire, by a distance, 2000

County of the century

Philip Bailey

To prove that the methods of the hare occasionally prevail, Yorkshire have clearly emerged as the county side of the 20th century. They dominated the first seven decades, winning 26 Championships out of 60, and shared one of the others. Then they went to sleep, but still clearly emerged as the most successful county throughout.

Yorkshire achieved their 1,000th victory since 1900 at Trent Bridge in August 1999. No one else came close to reaching that target. They also lost almost 100 fewer matches than any of their rivals (excluding Durham). In many seasons, especially before the war, there were considerable disparities between the number of fixtures played by different counties. And since the points system has changed frequently, the percentage of wins was the fairest method to determine the century's champion county. But whichever criterion is used, the answer is the same.

Surrey had the second-highest number of wins overall and, on percentages, were just ahead of Kent and Middlesex. Further to the table of post-war success, published in Wisden 1996, Surrey have now climbed ahead of Middlesex as the most successful post-war team. Kent's record before then was exceptional. They and Yorkshire were the top two teams in each of the first four decades, even though Kent were not champions at all between the wars.

Over the course of the century, Somerset lost by far the most matches both numerically and (again excluding Durham) by percentage. On draws, the facts support the weather lore: Lancashire were the only county to draw more than 1,000 games. Their nearest rivals in percentage terms were Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge pitches were once famously flat) and Glamorgan. Five of the top nine in the table will be in the second division in 2000.

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP, 1900-1999

*Outright titles only.

PWLDT%W%L%DTitles*
1 Yorkshire2,3311,001351977242.9415.0541.9126
2 Surrey2,263833450979136.8019.8843.2610
3 Kent2,235819603808536.6426.9736.156
4 Middlesex2,091765491832336.5823.4839.7810
5 Lancashire2,3157894511,073234.0819.4846.346
6 Gloucestershire2,179635783759229.1435.9334.830
7 Essex2,169613631920528.2629.0942.416
8 Sussex2,303646715936628.0531.0440.640
9 Nottinghamshire2,151593585972127.5627.1945.184
10 Warwickshire2,141589618933127.5128.8643.575
11 Hampshire2,211576722909426.0532.6541.112
12 Derbyshire2,105528726850125.0834.4840.381
13 Worcestershire2,157539742874224.9834.3940.515
14 Northamptonshire1,983484688808324.4034.6940.740
15 Somerset2,091492812784323.5238.8337.490
16 Leicestershire2,143493755894123.0035.2341.713
17 Glamorgan1,781388604789021.7833.9144.303
18 Durham141237939016.3156.0227.650


COUNTY CHAMPIONS, DECADE BY DECADE

%W%W
1900-1909 Yorkshire53.28 1950-1959 Surrey56.07
1910-1919 Kent62.16 1960-1969 Yorkshire42.36
1920-1929 Yorkshire51.68 1970-1979 Kent34.11
1930-1939 Yorkshire56.16 1980-1989 Essex35.65
1946-1949 Middlesex59.62 1990-1999 Warwickshire42.70


COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP, 1990-1999

PWLDT%W%L%DTitles
1 Warwickshire185795155042.7027.5629.722
2 Surrey185704966037.8326.4835.671
3 Essex185696254037.2933.5129.182
4 Middlesex185684374036.7523.2440.002
5 Leicestershire185674771036.2125.4038.372
6 Lancashire185645368034.5928.6436.750
7 Kent185614875132.9725.9440.540
8 Yorkshire185605669032.4330.2737.290
9 Northamptonshire185595472031.8929.1838.910
10 Derbyshire185587156031.3538.3730.270
11 Worcestershire185554584129.7224.3245.400
Gloucestershire185557258029.7238.9131.350
13 Somerset185525281028.1028.1043.780
Glamorgan185525677028.1030.2741.621
15 Nottinghamshire185497065126.4837.8335.130
16 Sussex185486967125.9437.2936.210
17 Hampshire185475979025.4031.8942.700
18 Durham141237939016.3156.0227.650

Notes: in all decades, draws include all abandoned matches, including those abandoned because of war (1914 and 1939), the King's death and funeral (1910), matches not counted originally because less than six hours' play took place (1927 and 1928), and matches regarded as abandoned because there was no decision on first innings (1938 and 1939). This column also includes the Yorkshire v Kent fixture at Harrogate in 1904, which was void because someone tampered with the pitch.


© John Wisden & Co