Purple patches

Alastair Cook’s monumental batting achievements in the opening two Tests of the Ashes series in Australia have sent statisticians scurrying away to thumb through their record books to find examples of other purple patches which batsmen have enjoyed. Cook’s achievements in making 383 unbeaten runs saw him beat Wally Hammond’s record for the most runs by an English batsman in Test cricket without being dismissed, with the all-time world record still being held by India’s Sachin Tendulkar who in 2004 amassed 497 with a sequence of 241*, 60*, 194* and 2.

But what about purple patches in county cricket? CB Fry and Denis Compton each scored centuries in six consecutive matches, while Jack Hobbs, Walter Keeton, Harold Gimblett, Jack Robertson, Len Hutton, MJK Smith, Mike Hussey and Mark Ramprakash have all posted a hundred or more in five successive games. But in 1926 Ernest Tyldesley completed a sequence which saw the Lancastrian batsman score a hundred or more in no less than seven successive first-class games.

Tyldesley’s purple patch began on June 26 of that year when he scored 144 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. This was followed by scores of 69 and 144* in the next match against Kent at Dover, before the right-hander made the small matter of 226 against Sussex at Old Trafford, and then 51 and 131 against Surrey at The Oval. The 37-year-old then made 131 for the Players against the Gentlemen at Lord’s, before posting 106 in Lancashire’s game with Essex at Nelson and followed by 126 in their contest with Somerset on August 4 at Taunton.

During the course of those six weeks, Tyldesley notched up 1128 runs at an average of 141, and his outstanding form saw his inclusion in the England side against Australia for the Fourth Test, fittingly on his home ground of Old Trafford. It was his fifth Test cap, and his first appearance for England since playing in the series two years before against South Africa. But he did not let his vast legions of supporters down as he scored 81 batting at number three in the drawn match.

Remarkably, his decent efforts at Manchester and his outstanding form in county cricket were not sufficient for Tyldesley to keep his place in the England side for the deciding match of the series with Australia. He duly returned to county cricket and for the first time since the final week of June he failed to pass 50 as he made a mere 44 against Essex. But he swiftly made amends in the next game, making 139 in the Roses encounter against Yorkshire, followed by 85 against Middlesex.

Tyldesley duly ended a memorable season with an aggregate of 2826 first-class runs and ten hundreds to his name to finish second to Jack Hobbs, who amassed 2949 runs during the season. Remarkably, this was not Tyldesley’s most productive summer as in 1928 he made 3024 runs, and scored ten hundreds once again to finish the season with a most healthy average of 79.57. The prolific batsman scored over 2000 on four other occasions – 1922, 1923, 1932 and 1934 – in a career which ran from 1909 to 1936, with Tyldesley making 38,874 runs and 102 centuries, besides winning 14 caps for England.

To find out more about Tyldesley’s career please visit http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/0/397/397.html , while for further details about productive sequences visit http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Records/Firstclass/Overall/Most_Consecutive_Matches_with_100.html

About Andrew Hignell

Andrew Hignell was born in Gloucester, but raised and educated in Cardiff. He has supported Glamorgan Cricket since the early 1970s and was appointed the Club’s Statistician in 1982 and since 2004 has been their 1st XI scorer. Andrew has a doctorate in geography and taught for eighteen years before becoming Glamorgan’s scorer. Andrew has written over a dozen books on cricket and he is also the Secretary of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians.
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