June 10, 1899 – When nine Derbyshire players took field in random clothing

June 10, 1899 – When nine Derbyshire players took field in random clothing

Yorkshire needed 32 runs to win on the final day in the game against Derbyshire.

Bat and Ball
Bat and Ball. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Derbyshire toured Yorkshire to face the home team at the Dewsbury and Savile Ground in the 1899 County Championship. The Derby team had played five matches by then and managed to win only one. He lost two matches while another two ended in a draw. On the other hand, the Yorkshire team was going strong having won five of the seven matches they played before facing Derbyshire in the game starting on 8th June. However, they lost to Essex by nine wickets in Sheffield just before playing in Dewsbury.

Yorkshire, who batted first, posted a solid total of 343 on the first day’s play thanks to contributions from the whole line-up. In reply, Derbyshire were bundled out for 203 despite Bill Storer’s 96-run knock. Having taken a lead of 140 runs, the home team enforced the follow-on over the Derbyshire. The visitors failed to make it big in the second essay as well. They were bowled out for 171 by end of stumps on the second day. Derbyshire lost as many as 19 wickets during the second day’s play.

Water trouble!

The match was set to resume on 3rd and final day’s play where Yorkshire needed to chase a target of 32. The Derbyshire’s playing XI had nine professionals who were allotted the dressing room of the visiting professionals. The remaining two were the Derbyshire’s skipper Thomas Higson and Levi Wright who got a different room. One of the taps in the dressing room was left unclosed when professionals left the venue on 2nd day.

The ground staff switched on the mains a few hours before the start of the final day’s play. The tap in the visiting professionals’ dressing room began to overflow while no one noticed. As a result, the dressing room looked like a mini pool and the kits of the Derbyshire professionals got soaked including their cricket gear. The officials couldn’t do anything but apologize for the unfortunate incident. Since only 32 runs were left to score, the nine Derbyshire professional decided to take the field in normal clothes.

The amateurs Higson and Wright turned up in whites as their kits were absolutely fine. The professionals were left without boots as well leaving the two amateurs to bowl in Yorkshire’s 2nd innings. Levi Wright, who debuted way back in 1883, bowled just 65 balls in his first-class career. Higson too wasn’t a regular bowler as was used as the 6th bowler in the first innings.

However, he got the wicket of Yorkshire’s opener John Brown to ensure the home team didn’t win by a 10-wicket margin. Yorkshire took 8.3 overs to reach the target for the loss of only one wicket. Derbyshire was accused of blasphemy for taking the field in random clothing but got support on knowing the unfortunate event. This also made the Dewsbury and Savile Ground not host any more matches until next year.