Sunday, 11 September 2011

Will Gidman and the 'minor double'

In the 1906 first-class season, Yorkshire's George Hirst scored 2,385 runs and took 208 wickets. In 1937, Sussex allrounder James Parks scored 3,003 runs in first-class matches and took 101 wickets.

These kind of achievements now seem incredible. A maximum of sixteen Championship matches means our expectations of individual feats over the course of the English season have been adjusted significantly downward.

Players must now normally average at least 40 in order to score 1,000 runs, and very few modern bowlers can boast of taking 100 wickets in a season. Last season, no bowler even came close - Nottinghamshire's Andre Adams topped the list with just 68.

So we must celebrate less impressive numbers - such as Gloucestershire allrounder Will Gidman's. With one match remaining of his season, Gidman has now scored 977 runs and taken 46 wickets. These figures are particularly remarkable since prior to this season, he had only played one first-class match over a seven-year career.

The minor double he is approaching is surprisingly rare. In fact, no cricketer has achieved it since 1996, when West Indian allrounder Phil Simmons scored 1,244 runs and took 56 wickets for Leicestershire.

Dominic Cork, Graeme Welch, Phil DeFreitas, Robert Croft, Dougie Brown - all excellent allrounders who achieved (or continue) to achieve much over long county careers. But none ever achieved this minor double.

If Gidman takes four wickets and scores 23 runs against Northamptonshire next week, his would be an achievement truly worth celebrating.

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