August 1981 - Memorable Matches

When Farnes was reduced to tears

Yorkshire and England fast bowler Bill Bowes remembers a sensational match at Scarborough

Yorkshire and England fast bowler Bill Bowes remembers a sensational match at Scarborough

Ken Farnes: 'I'll never make a fast bowler' © WCM
Surely there could be no more memorable or pleasurable occasion than to play in a Test against Australia and, on a lovely batting surface, win by an innings and 579 runs? That was the huge margin of victory in the Oval Test of 1938 when Hutton scored 364 runs to create a world record. Or what about the famous match of 1937 when Yorkshire, chased all season by Middlesex, finally won the Championship and were immediately 'challenged' by the runners-up to a special confrontation, which took place at The Oval? On this occasion Hutton scored 121 and Yorkshire won by an innings and 115 runs. It was a result which satisfied every Yorkshireman in the country. It would teach the Southerners not to be so presumptuous.

But my choice is for a game at Scarborough in 1932, a Championship fixture, Yorkshire v Essex. Weatherwise this was a glorious season. The sun shone, pitches were fast and true, the ball sped to the boundary whenever it found the gaps. Twelve batsmen that season averaged over 50, with Sutcliffe at the top with 3336 runs at 74. He was in tremendous form.

And Essex were soon made to realise this when Yorkshire visited Leyton in mid-June, won the toss, and Holmes and Sutcliffe went out to bat. The bowlers toiled until 12.55 on the second day, when Holmes (224) and Sutcliffe (313) had registered a world record partnership of 555 and Sutcliffe made a present of his wicket to Laurie Eastman. I recall that Percy Holmes, who had batted under some sort of handicap, had his foot on the dressing-room table and was taking his pad off when he suddenly stopped, looked across at Herbert and said, "My word, Herbert, if it hadn't been for my lumbago we would 'a brayed em." At this moment one of the Yorkshire supporters came in and said, 'Ay, you fellows, gently, they don't know whether it's a record or not. The scorers can't get it to more than 554.' Would you believe it, the Yorkshire scorer, Billy Ringrose, had missed a call of no-ball, refused to accept the word of the Essex scorer, and wouldn't alter his book until told by the umpire!

Can you imagine how the press went to town on these events? As a team we smoked a famous brand of 555 cigarettes free to the end of the season. And on this record-breaking pitch Essex were bowled out for 78 and suffered defeat by an innings and 313 runs.

On the grapevine
They were determined not to suffer such humiliation when they visited Scarborough in August. We heard on the grapevine how they planned to strengthen their bowling by including a young Varsity 6 ft 7 in fast bowler, Ken Farnes.

Essex took the honours on the first day when, batting in 90-degree sunshine, they scored 325 at a run-a-minute rate to leave Yorkshire 25 minutes' batting at the day's end. It was soon obvious that speed was the only attacking weapon on that Scarborough pitch and, after a fairly hard season, that day my analysis read 44.1 overs, 7 maidens, 121 runs, 9 wickets. I have never been so tired in my life. That night I hardly slept a wink. I had cramp so badly I lay on the cold linoleum near the walls of the bedroom. I was sharing a room with Arthur Rhodes, who always maintained afterwards, "I wouldn't be a fast bowler for £100 a day."

But I recall that day with pride and pleasure not because I came nearer to taking ten wickets in an innings than ever before or since (I had a catch from the other batsman dropped) but because in mid-afternoon, wet through with perspiration, and having to force myself to run up and bowl, the batsman cut me towards the boundary in front of square.

Leyland, who was fielding at fine third man, set off round the boundary. Mitchell at gully set off after the ball, too, and so did Sellers at extra cover. It was a hot day for them, too. But they all kept up with the chase and when Sellers got there first, picked up the ball and hurled it to the 'keeper as if he intended to run out all the Essex team, I cannot describe the feeling of pride and determination that came over me. The support those Yorkshire fieldsmen gave to the bowlers was amazing. How could you let them down?

But the story is not yet ended. For that half-hour of batting on the first day Yorkshire sent in Mitchell and Verity. Farnes got Verity and another left-arm bowler, Fisher, went in. He batted until stumps and took his score to 38 next morning before Farnes got him.

At this stage Sutcliffe went in, and at the fall of the next wicket, Leyland. The Essex skipper asked for all-out effort from his two fast bowlers Farnes and Nichols but, Oh dear, I've never seen such batting. The faster they bowled the further they were hit. In 55 minutes Sutcliffe and Leyland added 149. Four overs from Farnes yielded 75 runs, six successive overs produced 102 runs. Sutcliffe went from 100 to 194 in 40 minutes. Yorkshire declared at 476 and by lunchtime on the third day went to victory by an innings and eight runs!

When I saw Farnes on the evening of that Sutcliffe onslaught he burst into tears. "I'll never make a fast bowler," he said. I told him it was inexperience, that's all. "You don't bowl bouncers at Sutcliffe and Leyland in that mood," I said. "Try and get to know your men."