Test Match Countdown: Hampshire v West Indies

With the series-opening #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies at the Ageas Bowl nearing, we're taking a look back at memorable Hampshire tour matches against the Windies

To mark the nearing of the first #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies at the home of Hampshire Cricket, our historian Dave Allen charts memorable meetings between Hampshire and the West Indies in tour matches contested on this day in years gone by

3rd July 1906: Hampshire v West Indies, Southampton (3 Day Match - Day Two)

In 1950 this was a Monday and the second day, but sadly, after the excitement of Saturday, the rain prevented any prospect of play. So, we switch back to 1906 and that inaugural first-class meeting between the two sides.

Hampshire were in a very strong position after the first day, and ‘young’ Phil Mead was approaching a century. The great batsman, who would eventually compile 138 of them, had only one to date – against the formidable Yorkshire side – but on this day he went to three figures, and on to 132, in under three hours. Jimmy Stone departed early in the proceedings at 241-4, after which JH Gunner, in a rare Hampshire appearance scored 32, his highest in six matches for the county. He and Mead took the score to 293, but thereafter the last six wickets fell for 56 runs.

Hampshire nonetheless had a lead of 183 and when the West Indians slipped to 10-2 and 61-3, it appeared the game might end that day. Then Smith followed his three wickets and first innings 48, with a century, while Ollivierre hit a rapid 67 at better than a run-a-minute, taking the final total to 293 and a Hampshire target of 111.

Might ‘Nelson’ turn the match the West Indians way? There was just time for Langford – who had taken another three wickets this day – and Stone to close on 6-0.

2nd July 1906: Hampshire v West Indies, Southampton (3 Day Match - Day One)

This day in 1950 was a Sunday, so the players were resting until tomorrow, but on Monday 2 July 1906, the West Indians arrived at Southampton to play their inaugural first-class match in the county. They had toured in 1900 and beaten Hampshire but none of the matches on that tour were accorded first-class status – indeed, this tour six years later launched their first-class history – meeting first WG Grace’s XI at the Crystal Palace, then Essex, Surrey and Hampshire.

In 1906, their captain HBG Austin won the toss and chose to bat, but when he was fifth out with the score on 49, his side were in trouble; among those already back in the pavilion was Lebrun Constantine, father of the great Sir Learie. Percy Goodman (Barbados) and Sydney Smith (Trinidad) with 38 & 48 respectively brought some order to a final total of 166, but the first part of the day belonged to Hampshire’s opening bowler William Langford from Hythe, whose 8-82 would remain his best figures in a county career from 1902-1908.

There was time for Hampshire to reply with a substantial 235-3, 69 ahead; CB Llewellyn was dismissed for 60 and Phil Mead, in his first full season, was poised on 85*.

1st July 1950: Hampshire v West Indies, Southampton (3 Day Match - Day One)

The West Indians arrived in England for this tour, the 50th anniversary of their first visit to this country, having never won a Test in England, so it was perhaps no surprise when England won the First Test by 202 runs. The two sides then moved to Lord’s and the cricket world was astonished when the tourists won by a massive 323 runs, thanks mainly to centuries by Rae and Walcott and 11 wickets for ‘Sonny’ Ramadhin. It was celebrated by Lord Beginner’s calypso “Cricket, Lovely Cricket”.

Three days later - on the 1st July - the West Indians arrived in Southampton for one of the great days at Southampton. A few years earlier, Hampshire’s captain and secretary had tried to sign Allan Rae but he chose the West Indies and ironically, given what would happen, on this day opened with a promising young batsman who could not force his way into the Test side – Roy Marshall.

Marshall dominated the opening partnership of 89, before Rae and Trestrail were dismissed – the score then 124-2. The crowd was huge and Eagar, with a view to the club’s perilous finances, ordered the boundary rope brought in to accommodate all the spectators – possibly as many as 10,000. Out near the boundary Leo Harrison gave a superb display in the covers but he needed to as Marshall went to his century (135) and he and Everton Weekes took the score to 263-3. John Arlott suggested Marshall looked “in top form and full of confidence”.

Walcott (58) and wicketkeeper Christiani (45*) supported Weekes who was in superb form, going to his fourth double century of the season. Arlott described it as “the finest hitting innings I have seen”, as West Indies closed the day on 539-4 in no fewer than 142 overs. To Eagar’s credit he never tried to slow down the game, so Weekes came to the final ball on 246*; smashed the ball past the bowler but it hit the stumps at the far end and stopped dead. Of the bowlers, only off-spinner Gerry Hill with 2-69 in 30 overs exerted much control but for the spectators it was a glorious day – and the consequences of Marshall’s innings would resonate for Hampshire over more than 20 years.

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