Influence of the Fosters and the Lytteltons, 1963

The rise of Worcestershire

Worcestershire, smallest of the first-class counties, has over the years won public recognition far in excess of the degree that its geographical seclusion and size might have been expected to evoke.

The foundation of its live cricket outlook was laid by the first three of the seven Foster brothers in the days before first-class promotion, and practised throughout their brilliant careers by them and succeeding members of the family. Once firmly set, the example lived on.

The great batting feats of the Fosters made such an impact upon the public mind that the County won the affectionate title of Fostershire. Before the Fosters there had been another famous cricketing family in Worcestershire, the Lytteltons of Hagley Hall, who on one historic occasion, fielded a full eleven of their own and who have, for over a hundred years, provided Presidents and Chairmen, captains and players for the Worcestershire eleven.

Only partial records of the earliest days of Worcestershire remain, but they reveal a pleasant background of keen, friendly cricket.

For over twenty years before the present club was formed, a Worcestershire team played matches against adjacent counties, town and country clubs, as well as the two best-known public schools in the county, Malvern College and Bromsgrove School.

The first available records dating from 1844 give no indication of the basis upon which the eleven was organised. The state of cricket in the county in 1843 is unassessable, though the inference to be drawn is that strong club rivalries lived; else, for example, what would bring Ledbury fourteen miles and Stourport seventeen to Powick Ham, three miles south of Worcester, to meet in that year?

Public interest in cricket in the county seems to have received a sudden impetus in 1844. Many town and country matches were reported during the season, and the Worcestershire club, as it was designated, appeared in two games with Shropshire, who won both. Unfortunately no records are available of what happened the next season.

The first reference to a Worcestershire County club with a corporate existence was in 1847 when the act of formation was briefly reported, with 58 members enrolled and a set of rules drawn up.

For eight years the club played matches in many parts of the County. Bromsgrove School were twice met and were too strong for the County, who lost both games, showing that even in those early days the boys of the School knew their cricket, and William Clarke's All-England XI visited Worcestershire. A grand match of cricket took place against sixteen of the Stourbridge Club on October 4. These early missionaries, by their expert performances, introduced the spectacular into county cricket and were the means of raising greatly the standard of play in the following years.

Southern Worcestershire cricket followers saw Clarke's renowned XI the following season when XXII of the county met them on Powick Ham, scene of a fierce engagement during the Battle of Worcester between the King's and Cromwell's forces in 1651.

Waresley, near Hartlebury, where all the county's home matches were played in 1850, had an interesting family association. Dr. John Peel, Dean of Worcester, and brother of Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister, lived at Waresley House, one of the county mansions having a ground of its own.

The game was by then growing fast in popularity. Constant mention is found in records of such clubs as Worcester City, Stourbridge, Dudley, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Ombersley, Pershore, Evesham, Waresley, Stourport, Bewdley, Eckington, most of whom met the County side at some time or another in the early twenty-year period.

John Wisden at Worcester

When Clarke brought his All-England team to Worcester in 1851, a Lyttelton, the fourth Baron, first appeared in the Worcestershire side, which numbered twenty-two. Clarke and Wisden shared equally all the wickets of Worcestershire -- ten and eleven each in the first innings and vice versa in the second. Not surprisingly, Worcestershire's totals were only 47 and 46.

Another step in the direction of a properly constituted club was taken in 1855 when at the Star Hotel, Worcester, on May 5, a meeting of Gentlemen interested in Cricket formed a club by merging the City and County Cricket Clubs into one body entitled Worcester City and County Cricket Club. The Rev. R. Peel occupied the Chair and nearly fifty persons were present. The meeting elected Mr. E.A.H. Lechmere, twice High Sheriff of the County, Chairman; Mr. W. Bentley, Hon. Secretary; and Mr. Martin Curtler, Treasurer.

The annual subscription was fixed at half a guinea and it was determined that mechanics, as factory workmen were called in those days, should be admissible to the Club -- an innovation in Worcestershire County Cricket. These would become members on payment of five shillings per year, and would be entitled to use bats and balls and the cricket ground on three nights a week and to have the privilege of playing cricket with the half-guinea members one night a week. The Committee, it was stated, had obtained a portion of Pitchcroft extending from the Paddock to the Centre Stand. (Pitchcroft was Worcestershire's racecourse, as it is to-day.)

These were the democratic lines upon which the Club performed for several years. The young Earl of Coventry, then 25, was its President in 1863. Just when and how the club lapsed is not known, but in 1865 when the present body was formed, emphasis was laid upon the need for a regularly constituted club.

The Lyttelton Team

The renowned all-Lyttelton family team which played Bromsgrove School -- and won by ten wickets -- at Hagley Park on August 26, 1867, comprised the eight sons of the fourth Baron, their father, and their two uncles (the Baron's brothers), the Hon. Spencer and the Hon. William Henry. The sons' ages ranged from twenty-five to ten years. The three older players were 50, 49 and 47.

Three successive generations received the honour of being appointed President of M.C.C. -- C.G. in 1886; J.C. in 1935; and C.J. in 1954. Father, son and grandson.

The Lyttelton's personal interest in the county club has so far extended well over one hundred years from the 4th Baron Lyttelton to the 10th and present Viscount Cobham, who is a Vice-President.

The Coventry family had also a long association with the club. The ninth Earl, that courtly figure who was doyen of the peerage in the early twentieth century, took round a team under his name to play other clubs in the county. He was President of the amalgamated City and County Club in 1863, and of the present club from 1899 until 1908 and again from 1925 until his death at the age of 92 in 1930. He was President of M.C.C. in 1859.

Of other members of the county nobility, two Allsopp brothers, the Hon. S.C. Allsopp, heir to the first Baron Hindlip, and the Hon. W.H. were prominent playing members. The first Earl of Dudley, who played for Oxford University as Lord Ward, was President of M.C.C. in 1864, and his son, the second Earl, held the Presidency of Worcestershire for seven years from 1913.

The Earl of Plymouth and Lord Doverdale are others who held the office and today the Hon. R.E. Lygon, brother of the Earl Beauchamp, is Chairman of the Selection Committee.

The meeting at which the present club, now 98 years old, was founded, took place at the Star Hotel, Worcester, on March 10, 1865. Lord Lyttelton was elected President and a Committee appointed comprised the President, the Earl of Coventry, the Hon. C.G. Lyttelton, the Hon. S.C. Allsopp, Mr. A.H. Cocks, the Revs. A. Waller and Walter B. Cherry, Messrs. G.E. Martin, W.E. Dowdeswell and W. de Sodington Blount. Mr. J.S. Isaac was elected Hon. Treasurer and Mr. W. Deighton Hon. Secretary.

The meeting was adjourned and assembled again on April 1 at the Star Hotel, with Lord Lyttelton in the chair. It being reported that the field at Boughton was considered by the Committee to be the most desirable, they were empowered to take the ground for the season.

It remained the home of the County club for 31 years until 1896 when a move was made to the present New Road ground at the invitation of Paul Foley, the lessee. From then until 1914 it was the headquarters of the St. John's Club, whose captain for some years was the late David Rabjohns, as popular and respected a figure as in his later associations with the County club as committee man and voluntary scorer.

First Match with Warwickshire

The first game played at Boughton by members of the club was in May (1865) between XI Residents of the Eastern Division of the County and XI Residents of the Western Division. The season was notable for the first meeting between the County and Warwickshire, who won by an innings and 58 runs, but in the following season, 1866, Worcestershire gave a much better display and won by six wickets. The two Lyttelton brothers, C.G. and S.G. were mainly responsible, taking nine wickets between them.

Two years after the Club came into being, the name of Foster appeared in the county scorebook, but in their opponents' team. It was that of the head of the famous family, Rev. H. Foster, playing for Malvern College.

The season of 1870 was a good one for the County who won five of the eight matches played. The Earl of Coventry and the Marquess of Queensbury joined the side, the two Lyttelton brothers were still bowling well, and a new professional, Millward, helped in the attack.

Worcestershire's first recorded meeting with M.C.C. occurred in 1880 at Worcester, a memorable encounter ending in victory for the visitors by two runs. The County had to wait twelve years before they were able to forge a victory over their opponents from cricket's H.Q. The two eldest Foster brothers, H.K. and W.L., coming into the side at Lord's as Malvern College boys in their late teens in 1892, were mainly responsible for this success.

This season Worcestershire met adjoining counties. The foundations of Fostershire were being laid. The two eldest brothers headed the season's batting averages and the club had now four professional bowlers, Raynor, Rollings, Willoughby, plus Millward, who between them captured over 200 wickets.

Yet, although they had their successes, Worcestershire scarcely revealed the full promise of such outstanding achievement as marked the four seasons from 1895 in which they romped through the Minor Counties Championship to first-class status.

In the summer of 1882, Paul H. Foley, a cricketer without a county, but with a lot of good cricket to his name, played for M.C.C. against Worcestershire for the first time. His home was at his county estate in adjoining Herefordshire. He was to become a powerful factor, and benefactor, too, in Worcestershire cricket. He took the team under his personal wing and organised a highly successful side.

The year 1895 marked an important stage in the club's history, Foley was responsible, with the help of H.K. Foster, for the formation of the Minor Counties Championship competition. Bent upon first-class status for the county, he looked for a stepping stone on the way. The Second Class County Championship then in existence was apparently not considered the appropriate vehicle to carry Worcestershire to top class.

Formation of Minor Counties Association

The new competition was organised and seven counties qualified for entry. Though the youthful Fosters had not yet created a stir among the counties, their batting skill had been duly observed. Now they became a considerable strength to the side when they could play. The mainstays of the bowling during the four years were three young cricketers who, during long service later, gathered an abundant harvest of wickets: E.G. (Ted) Arnold, George A. Wilson and Albert Bird. Arnold joined when 17 and rose to Test rank. He was in the 1903-4 England side which R.E. Foster made famous in Australia by his record individual score of 287 in seven hours on debut in a Test match at Sydney.

Arnold's total bag for the first three seasons was 229 wickets at an average of 10.18. Wilson came to the rescue in the fourth and last season when Arnold was ill with 90 wickets at 11.88. A really fast bowler, he put his whole body into every delivery.

Worcestershire Become First-Class

In December 1898, Mr. Foley received a letter from Mr. F.E. Lacey, the new M.C.C. secretary, intimating that Worcestershire were being recognised as a first-class county. They were already in their new home (the present one), a few minutes from the City centre, overlooked by the stately Cathedral of Worcester -- a familiar sight in pictures circulated ever since throughout the world. It has often been called the prettiest county ground in England. We in Worcestershire believe it is.

So the dawn broke gradually on the golden cricketing era of Fostershire which was to last more than a decade after first-class status had been achieved.

There were seven Fosters altogether -- H.K., W.L., R.E., B.S., G.N., M.K., and N.J.A. -- sons of the Rev. H. Foster, a house-master at Malvern College, captain of Winchester College XI in 1861, who very early in their young lives inspired in his progeny a natural love of the game.

The three eldest, H.K., W.L. and R.E., were introduced to cricket as soon as they were able to hold a bat. Mrs. Foster, their mother, herself no mean cricketer, first bowled to them on a twelve-yard pitch at home and prepared them for father to take over and coach. These were elementary days, of course, but the brothers' natural ability enabled them by the time they reached Malvern College to make the grade without special coaching. Here, their cricket careers fast developed.

One of the masters of style was the description applied to H.K. by Wisden when he was a Cricketer of the Year in 1910, and captained the Gentlemen at Lord's and The Oval. Surprise was frequently expressed during his career that H.K. had not played for England. His position, simply stated by himself, was that he had no wish to play Test cricket, but he at least made a valuable contribution as a Test team selector.

He finished his service to the County with over 17,000 runs in aggregate made in 519 innings. His first taste of fame occurred in 1895 when he was 22 and at Oxford. In that year's University match he made 121 out of 159 in just over two hours in the fourth innings. He scored 27 centuries in first-class cricket and exceeded 1,000 runs in eight seasons.

R.E., the supreme craftsman of the brothers, gave cricket connoisseurs displays to warm their hearts and he was the schoolboys' hero. His greatest feat was his 287 against Australia, which to this day stands as the highest score for either side in Australia in an England-Australia Test. R.E. shared in three century stands, his 130 with Wilfred Rhodes still being the tenth wicket record in a Test.

His best year was probably 1900, when he captained Oxford, for whom he scored 930 runs, average 77.30. He scored a century in each innings for Gentlemen v. Players at Lord's and in the University match hit the then highest individual score of 171.

The 1907 season was R.E.'s last run-making season and he played a large part in taking Worcestershire to the highest position they had thus far occupied in the Championship -- second bracketed with Yorkshire. In May 1914 the cricketing world was shocked to hear that this almost legendary figure had passed away at the early age of 36. It was now left to M.K. to carry on the Foster tradition, for G.N., seldom able to appear regularly, was kept in London by business and qualified for Kent.

M.K.'s first full season was in 1914 when he was 25. He made a great show, scoring over a thousand runs and one century, 158, the highest of his career, which lapsed between the outbreak of war and 1923. He returned to captain the side for three seasons, exceeding 1,000 runs in each. Altogether he scored twelve centuries and an aggregate of 8,237 runs.

Two distinctions of the Fosters have so far been unmentioned. Five of them played for the Gentlemen; the family provides one of the few instances of three successive generations having played in the same county side.

Much has been written about the Fosters' styles, but less of the spirit in which they played the game. They founded the tradition of true sportsmanship that has since been maintained in Worcestershire cricket. The only two surviving brothers now are G.N., who lives in London, and N.J.A., who returned from Malaya to England in 1961.


Worcestershire's sporting qualities were handsomely shown in their first match in the County Championship by the courageous way they tackled the reigning Champions, Yorkshire, and awakened public interest in their latent possibilities. Yorkshire won, by eleven runs, but only after being put out in two hours for 139. They were 72 behind on first innings and lost five second innings wickets for 67. Worcestershire were set 134 to win, but with such devastating effect did Wainwright bowl that he took six wickets for 19 runs in nine overs. The match solidly established the new county as a side to be reckoned with, even if they finished twelfth in the table. During that season Hampshire were disposed of for 30 -- still the lowest total made by opponents -- Wilson took six wickets for 15 runs and Arnold four for 13.

The summer of 1907 was specially notable for the two defeats of Yorkshire, but the near heights were not reached again until third place was filled in 1949, fourth in 1951 and again in 1961, and second in 1962.

In 1949 Worcestershire did so well that the Championship seemed almost within reach, but two defeats from Middlesex meant that they finished below Yorkshire and Middlesex.

Their 1961 record was most meritorious for they gained 16 victories, the greatest number in any season. Injuries hit them severely last summer when many experts considered them the best all-sound side in the Championship.

The greatest feat of run-getting was achieved in July 1951 at Worcester against Notts. Worcestershire were set 131 to win in forty minutes. Such was the phenomenal hitting that the runs were actually scored in thirty-five minutes. Kenyon got 38 out of 58 in fifteen minutes; Roly Jenkins, 47 in fifteen minutes and George Dews 43 in thirty-two minutes. A scene of tremendous excitement naturally accompanied the suspense of the closing minutes.

Ted Arnold The Great

Marshalling the passing parade of cricketers who have, at some period or another, served the county, makes a spectacular record of achievement. For instance, E.G. (Ted) Arnold the great all-rounder, was so good that at his best he was compared with Frank Woolley, of Kent and England, though he hadn't Woolley's stamina and muscle. In 1906 he was fifth in the first-class batting averages with 1,767 runs, average 50.48. His aggregate in all his 596 innings was 15,858 runs. He took altogether 1,079 wickets at a cost of 23.10.

A.J. Cuffe, left-hand bowler and right-hand batsman from New South Wales, and F.A. Pearson, from The Oval, were both valued all-rounders. Pearson always batted stylishly, passing the century mark twenty-two times. Altogether his record was 840 wickets and 18,558 runs.

Cuffe made three centuries and a grand total of 7,530 in ten seasons and took 737 wickets. An amateur, W.B. Burns, who first played in 1904 became one of nine who in the last 89 years have scored a century and done the hat-trick in the same match.

Chester's Ability

Frank Chester held the opinion that Burns was for four or five overs the fastest bowler he ever saw -- and Chester stood at the bowlers' wicket as umpire and watched for over thirty years a succession of famous players. It was a tragic quirk of fate that Chester should have lost his bowling arm in the Great War, for his first full season was in 1912 at the tender age of 16.

His outstanding ability was so marked as a result of his extraordinarily adult performances in 1913 that he was freely spoken of as a likely Test player of the future. In this season he made three centuries; at Lord's against Middlesex G.N. Foster (132) and he (148 not out) put on 254 together. Chester's best performance -- and a remarkable one for a boy of 17 -- was against Hampshire at Dudley. He hit a brilliant 128 not out and followed by capturing six wickets for 43 in 14.4 overs. He returned to civilian life after the War undaunted, for he had cricket in his blood and instead of winning fame as a player, he became one of the greatest of umpires.

A little-known fast bowler achieved the best figures by any Worcestershire player. He was A.J. Conway, whose one full season was 1914 when at Moreton-in-Marsh he took nine Gloucestershire wickets for 38 runs and six for 49 -- 15 wickets for 87 runs.

At the other end of the bowling rate came G.H. Simpson-Hayward who occupied a place by himself as a lob or under-arm bowler and worried the best of batsmen.

M.F.S. Jewell's Contribution

A very different side played in 1919, but not in the Championship. There was, in fact, grave doubt whether Worcestershire would be able to compete again until M.F.S. Jewell and W.H. Taylor, who led the side in 1914 and 1919, gathered together eleven players and entered the arena under Jewell's captaincy in 1920. Jewell's service to the club has been continuous over more than forty years. When he gave up his last captaincy in the mid-peace years, a new dawn was breaking for the club and the foundation he laid gave Worcestershire cricket new life. He was President from 1950-55.

In his active days, Jewell was a good left-arm spin bowler. Rallying to his leadership, the team put up many gallant performances, but there had to be so many changes that not for some years did they become a well-knit entity.

In the earlier post-war years they still had as good leaven F.L. Bowley and F. Pearson. Bowley hit 33 centuries before the war and made five more before retiring in 1923. He had been with the County since Minor Counties days and his first-class aggregate was 21.283 runs, his 276 against Hampshire in 1914 being still the highest individual score for the County.

The Root Era

Worcestershire made an important acquisition in 1921. C.F. Root the pre-war medium-fast bowler, joined the side, and two years later developed his famous leg-theory. This was so successful that he took 165 wickets at a cost of slightly over 20 apiece; and in 1925, 196 wickets at 17.46 runs each. He was put into the England side against Australia, but made a lesser impact than expected.

His best performance was nine wickets for 23 against Lancashire in 1930 which remains a county record. He retired after twelve years with Worcestershire with a bag of 1,460 wickets for 20.51 each.

It was some time after the Root era that the bowling matched the batting. Perks, Howorth, P.F. Jackson and S.H. Martin began their harvest of wickets in a modest way, but by 1938, Roly Jenkins arrived to help them -- and a formidable quintette they were; the first four named in 1937 each took over 100 wickets. The only precedent was that for Nottinghamshire in 1929 when Larwood, Voce, Barratt and Staples achieved the honour.

Yorkshire, with Bowes, Verity, Robinson and Smailes, had four hundreds in 1948 and Worcestershire made a new record in 1961 when a second quartette -- Flavell, Coldwell, Gifford and Horton -- each took over one hundred wickets. Flavell, a fast seamer, enjoyed the additional distinction of leading the national bowling averages with a figure of 17.79 -- the first Worcestershire bowler to do so -- and of appearing for England against Australia in two Test matches.

Doc Gibbons

The batting strength received a welcome fillip in 1927 by the addition of H.H.I. Gibbons, who had consistently high performances over twelve seasons. In all of these he exceeded 1,000 runs, and in three 2,000. A sound and fluent batsman, rich in runs and style, he hovered on the border of representative cricket without ever crossing it. Unfortunately for him, his playing years coincided with those of such notable batsmen as Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Hendren, D.R. Jardine and A.P.F. Chapman. He was, however, chosen for Players v. Gentlemen in 1928.

Gibbons, C.F. Walters, the Nawab of Pataudi, M. Nichol, S.H. Martin and B.W. Quaife, son of W.G. Quaife, the Warwickshire wicket-keeper, made 1933 a wonderful batting season. Walters and Nichol scored over 2,000 runs. Between them they collected 27 centuries, two more than any other county that year.

The Nawab of Pataudi hit a lot of runs for Worcestershire in the thirties and before he qualified made the record score of 238 not out for Oxford University in 1931. His best season for the county was that of 1933 when he scored three double-centuries.

First Professional Captain

One of the most notable members of the post-Fostershire county eleven was R.T.D. (Reg) Perks, whose service to the club stretched between 1930 and 1955, twenty years excluding the six war years. In his last season he became the first professional captain of the team.

One of Worcestershire's most popular and highly respected players, he, in his last season, took over one hundred wickets for the sixteenth successive year -- a Worcestershire record and one exceeded only by Wilfred Rhodes of Yorkshire and A.P. (Tich) Freeman of Kent, and equalled by T.W. Goddard and C.W.L. Parker of Gloucestershire.

Notable All-Rounders

R. Howorth, a left-hander, showed promise when he first came and was made opening batsman for a time, but two seasons later he captured one hundred wickets and regularly did so until the World War and for the first four years afterwards. He imparted strength to the middle order of the batting and ranks as one of Worcestershire's best all-rounders.

Nine times he took one hundred or more wickets and achieved the double on three occasions. His full total was 1,345 wickets and an aggregate of 11,469 runs, including four centuries.

Variety of pace and spin were the secrets of his bowling, and his very first ball in a Test match got a wicket. Dyer, South Africa, in 1947, under-estimated the lateral movement of the ball and was caught. One of Howorth's best performances was seven wickets for 18 runs against Northamptonshire

P.F. Jackson, like Howorth, played both before and after the War, taking one hundred wickets in each of four seasons. He had hand in the attack from 1929 to 1950, capturing 1,159 wickets at first as a medium-paced swinger and later as an off-spinner.

His leading feats included nine wickets for 45 runs against Somerset and eight for 57 against Kent. Between 1932 and 1939, S.H. Martin, another good all-rounder, scored nineteen centuries and passed 1,000 runs in seven seasons, in two of which he performed the double. Twice he took 14 wickets in a match, against Somerset in 1937 and Kent in 1939.

Hat-Trick In Each Innings

R.O. Jenkins was a purely Worcester product, who after making an uneventful first appearance in 1938, had to wait until 1949 before his aptitude with both ball and bat received final proof. He had already made 1,000 runs in two seasons, and now he took over 140 wickets for the County and 183 altogether in first-class cricket -- more than any other bowler that season. His batting brought him most notice in South Africa in 1948, for twice he turned the course of a match in England's favour with much-needed runs.

His hat-trick in each innings against Surrey at Worcester in 1949 will ensure that his name lives in cricket annals. Jenkins completed his service with a total of 10,075 runs and he took altogether 1,319 wickets.

The Stylish Kenyon

After the second war, in 1946, among other players who joined the county, was Don Kenyon from Wordsley, near Stourbridge, and ever since he has been one of the batting mainstays. In 1959, he was made captain in succession to P.E. Richardson, then England opening batsman, and he led the side into the happy state described in last season's report.

One of the most stylish bats the County have ever possessed, he has passed 2,000 runs in seven seasons, more than any previous Worcestershire batsman, and has an aggregate county record of 31,208 runs. He has hit 65 centuries, seven of them doubles. He is Worcestershire's second professional captain and has achieved success the hard way, for it is no secret that some thought him too modest and an insufficiently spectacular personality to be the desired leader.

He has proved them all wrong and he has won the firm confidence of club, players and spectators. Kenyon can testify to the excellence of the Second Eleven under J. Lister, the secretary, who has provided good players as he needed them. From this source the future seems to be assured.

For the present, Kenyon has the distinguished support of his latest star recruit, Tom Graveney, from neighbouring Gloucestershire, who qualified for Worcestershire last season with 48 Test appearances behind him and an all-matches aggregate of 27,248 runs. And he was still full of runs. In 1962 he was placed second in the first-class averages with 2,269 runs, made in 48 innings, an average of 54.02 and a highest score of 164 not out.

Kenyon deservedly gains special recognition in this edition of Wisden as one of The Five Cricketers of The Year.

It is also from the second string that young R.G.A. Headley, son of the famous West Indies cricketer, came into the side, and in 1961 obtained his first 2,000 runs in a season. He is only 22 yet, but promises well and should have a successful career, plentiful in runs.


Bradman's Three Double Centuries

The Commonwealth tourist teams, from their first visit in 1902, have been a great attraction on the New Road ground, but no player has drawn the crowds as Australia's cricket knight, Donald Bradman, whose record there is 807 runs in four innings. On his first visit in 1930 he made 236, on his next tour 206, and on the third, in 1938, 258. He played at Worcester only once after the World War, in 1948, and scored 107. Only one other Australian batsman has hit a double century there -- Keith Miller, 220 not out in 1954.

The highest score Worcestershire made against the Australians was 333 for seven in 1953 and the lowest, 78 in 1905. Towards the big total Don Kenyon made a characteristically stylish 122, until then the only century for the County against the tourists; five years later P.E. Richardson saved defeat by scoring 130 and remaining unbeaten until stumps were drawn with one wicket to go.

Australia never had to bat twice to win a match until 1926 and then not again until 1961, when the tourists were within measurable distance of defeat. Australia's scores were the lowest in the 59 years of the contests. Rain intervened when the county wanted 108 to win with six wickets to go. In comparison with their lowest score of 141 in this match, the visitors' highest score, made in 1953, was 542 for seven.

So, from memories of the great Clem Hill, Trumper, Trumble and Company, to the modern days of Benaud and his happy band of sportsmen.

The South Africans first came to Worcester in 1901 and no game more thrilling has occurred since, for it ended in a tie. Worcestershire's Wilson, the last man in with nine runs required for victory, helped to make eight of them before being stumped when attempting the winning hit. H.K. Foster scored the only County century of the series, 107 in 1904. This was the occasion of the county's only victory over the tourists until 1947.

India, the West Indies and Pakistan, too, have all shown their prowess on the Worcester ground

© John Wisden & Co