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Thursday, 7th August 2008
Millennium May

i f there was a more innocent time for sport

then perhaps it was during the era in which this page glories.

You can never really be sure. If you accept nothing is new in this world then it is only left to argue over degrees of difference.

Lets do away with all these uncharitable thoughts as the achievement to which this page tips its hat is not likely to be a factor in any scandal.

The scoring of 1000 runs in first class matches in May.

To give a hint of how rare this achievement is; Don Bradman, arguably the best batsman the world has ever known and without argument one of the top five did not achieve this.

some concern he was not going to live

Don't reach for that email button just yet. He did score 1000 runs by June 1st and being Bradman he had to do it twice. But in both instances this was with the help of an innings in April (April 30th). Yes, it is picky but I spend my days looking at thousands of bits of cards, grading and sorting them. If anyone is going to be picky about this sort of detail it is likely to be me.

Dr WG GRACE
Taddy, County Cricketers
[1902]

Still do not feel so bad his failing puts him good company but his succeeding would have put in the company of WG Grace, WR Hammond, C Hallows for the purposes of cricketers on cigarette cards that is it. Mind you if you check up the list is not exactly any longer if you bring it right up to date.

It is just one of those things.

Like a lot of those things, it was WG that did it first, in 1895. You get the feeling if WG had not done it then it was just not going to be done when it comes to cricket.

Even in this most rarefied of company Grace seems to be sucking oxygen from a higher plateau. To start with he managed to score 1012 runs in 22 days in only 10 innings and an average of 112.88.

10 innings is the smallest number ever needed to do this as is 22 days.

Grace was also 46 years and 10 months old when he achieved this and his best days just had to be behind him and indeed this was the year of final supreme effort. He was quite the heaviest of cricket players in the country at the time and his large beard did nothing to hide that bulk. The chap would not be considered an athlete by today's standards.

The attempt did not get off to a good start when he only scored 13 in his first innings. Although he picked up with 103 runs in his second, you would not have been putting money on the 1000 run outcome.

His third and fourth innings only added 18 runs and 25 at which point you would have to think it was impossible.

Then it all changed. Playing against Somerset at the Bristol ground he scored a remarkable 288 runs, his highest score of that year and in so doing achieved his 100th hundredth in First Class cricket (bet you can guess who the first person to do that was). This batting achievement took five hours and twenty minutes

His form slipped in the next innings only scoring 52 but this was backed up by another enormous score of 257 against Kent in Gravesend.

His next innings was a disappointment as he scored 76 not out, running out of batting partners before he actually lost his wicket. It would have been sour indeed if this had been a reason for failure.

Then it all seemed to go from his reach when he scored only 18.

This meant May 30th was upon them and a score of over 150 was needed. As was fitting of such an attempt it was at Lord's, the spiritual home of cricket, against Middlesex.

The effect of this 1000 runs in May was to galvanize interest in cricket.

We probably have a lot to thank the bearded one for those early cricket cards issued by Wills.

After Grace there was a considerable lapse before the feat was achieved again.

The great TW Hayward did manage 1000 runs by June 1st but he started his batting campaign even earlier than Bradman as it began on the 16th April, taking 13 innings over 46 days.

We had to wait until 1927 and Walter Reginald Hammond (Glos) [1903-1965] when between 7 and the 27 May he managed to squeeze in 13 innings of batting and scoring 1028 runs. Amazingly this equalled the Grace record of doing 1000 runs in 22 days (although Grace did it in three less innings).

Tom Hayward
Gabriel, Cricketer Series
[1902]

Amazingly only the year before there was some concern he was not going to live after contracting an illness in the West Indies (it was rare but not unique for a cricketer to die of some disease caught on an overseas tour).

He retired from first class cricket in 1947.

He retired to South Africa and had a rather unfortunate investment in the motor trade which ensured all his capital had disappeared within a few years.

His poor luck with cars continued as his death at 62 was attributed in large part to injuries sustained in a car crash some 5 years previous.

Having had to wait some 30 odd years for the feat to have been achieved the cricket public only had to wait another 12 months for the third cricketer to achieve the feat.

In this instance it was Charles Hallows [1895-1972].

Charles Hallows
Wills, Cricketers 1928

Of the three this fellow is perhaps the least well-known, which given the rarity of the feat is just not fair (who said life is). He actually only played for England twice, a sign of the strength of English cricket during the period of his career and perhaps the rather worrying tendency for selectors to continue endlessly with proven talents past the sell-by date.

He scored 55 centuries in his career his highest being 233 not out against Hampshire in 1927. His batting average that year being 75.58.

He very nearly did not make it into the 1000 in May group at all.

In the period 5 to 31 May he scored 1000 runs exactly in 11 innings.

However after 10 innings you would have got very long odds on the achievement as he needed to score 232 runs in the last innings to attain the 1000 runs.

It is a matter of history that he did manage just that and no more.

I cannot finish this without mentioning Bradman.

To show just how fair the rather arbitrary claim of 1000 runs in May is and the fact Bradman never achieved this feat.

In 1938 The Don had scored 1056 runs by June 1st and despite the fact he had started his campaign on 30 April he had actually managed to score the 1000 runs in 7 innings and that alone has to tell you of the chaps complete batting genius.