August 26, 1921 – Tom Sidwell gets out having lost his way in London Underground
The play got underway well before Sidwell arrived at the venue.
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The 1921 County Championship came to a conclusion with Surrey and Middlesex standing as front-runners to win the title. Middlesex defeated Kent at the Lord’s by five wickets while Surrey were up against Leicestershire in the penultimate round of the Championship. Surrey needed to win this game at any cost and also needed a win in the final round against Middlesex only. In the game played at The Oval against Leicester, Surrey elected to bat first.
Surrey were kept down to 225 in their first innings but came back well with the ball reducing the visitors to 85/6 on the opening day. The Leicestershire team finished on 138 conceding a 90-run first innings lead. Surrey batted well in their 2nd innings as Thomas Shepherd and Horace Bloomfield scored 100* and 53* respectively to take the total to 244/4 before they declared. The pair had an undefeated 150-run stand between themselves as Surrey set a target of 335 for Leicestershire to bag an outright win.
The visitors batted a few overs before the stumps on the 2nd day which was enough for the home team to open the wickets column. Leicester ended the day at 21/1 with skipper Aubrey Sharp and night-watchman Tom Sidwell at the crease. However, Sharp resumed his innings on the final day with along with John King as Sidwell wasn’t present at the venue in the morning.
The play got underway well before Sidwell arrived at the venue. It was revealed that the Leicester keeper was lost in the London Underground on his way to the ground from the hotel. Sidwell was assumed to be have taken the wrong train to reach the ground. He was considered to be ‘retired’ which meant he could resume his innings at any time. But the Surrey skipper Percy Fender wasn’t going to let that happen.
At the Lunch interval, Fender went to the umpire and demanded them to consider Sidwell ‘out’ as he was fit enough and didn’t resume his overnight innings. As the game was a crucial one in the context of the Championship, the Surrey Secretary Lionel Palairet contacted MCC Secretary Francis Lacey for his view. They concluded that Sidwell could bat again if the opposition skipper, Fender, allowed. The Surrey skipper wasn’t going to show any mercy in the must-win encounter.
A quite finish for both teams:
Sharp kept his team well in the chase with a century despite losing Sidwell. He shared a 68-run stand with King (34) for the 3rd wicket and added 102 runs for the 5th wicket with George Geary (48) to shift the game into their direction. But Hebert Peach and Fender took five wickets in a space of 30 minutes in the 2nd session including the wicket of Sharp who scored 114.
Leicestershire ended up being bowled out for 246 losing their last six wickets for 48 runs. Surrey were still alive in the race to win the County title with an 88-run win. However, Middlesex got better the off them in the final round as they defeated the visiting side at Lord’s by six wickets chasing a target of 322 on the final day of the championship.