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Lowly way is Essex

Richard looks at the lowest post-war scores after Essex slump

Glen Chapple: claimed figures of 5-9 from 7.2 overs

In club cricket, teams being dismissed for low totals are almost common place. But for a team of professionals to be bowled out for a paltry sum is decidedly rare.

So when Essex were knocked over for just 20 on the third day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match at Chelmsford, the tongues were sent wagging and thumbs tickling through the statistics to see just how often it has happened.

It was only the seventh occurrence in first-class cricket since the Second World War anywhere in the world that a team has been removed for less than 20 but only the second time it has happened in the County Championship in that same time span.

Essex's effort was all the more surprising given that Lancashire's last three wickets had added 190 runs in 55 overs before they were bowled out for 398, giving them a lead of 125 on first innings.

But it took just 14.2 overs for the Essex second innings - and the match - to be over as the evergreen Glen Chapple rolled back the years with 5 for 9, his second five-wicket haul of the season, and Kyle Hogg joined in the fun with 4 for 11 as the hosts were skittled.

Only Jaik Mickleburgh put up any resistance, being the ninth man out for the only double figure score of 10.

The total was Essex's lowest ever in first-class cricket, surpassing the 30 they were dismissed for way back in 1901 by Yorkshire at Leyton.

Essex's lowest totals in first-class cricket


It was also the lowest total that Lancashire has ever dismissed a side for in first-class cricket, jumping ahead of the 22 that Glamorgan were bowled out for way back in 1924 in Liverpool.

Lowest first-class totals recorded against Lancashire

ScoreOversScored byVenueSeason
2631.4GlamorganCardiff Arms Park1958

The previous time a score of under 20 was scored post-war in the Championship was also at Chelmsford just over 30 years ago. Replying to Essex's 287 all out, Surrey were routed for a miserable 14 with six batsmen all making their way back to the pavilion without scoring inside 14.3 overs.

Seamer Norbert Phillip claimed six wickets for four runs in 7.3 overs while England international Neil Foster helped himself to 4-10 in 7 overs.

It is believed that the six Surrey batsmen who registered ducks marked the occasion with a special tie!!

Lowest first-class totals since the Second World War

Surrey1414.32EssexChelmsfordMay 1983
Border16232NatalEast LondonDec 1959
Border18264NatalEast LondonDec 1959
Durham MCCU1816.54DurhamChester-le-StreetApr 2012
Matabeleland1911.54MashonalandHarareMar 2001
National Bank2018.31Pakistan CustomsKarachiNov 1998
Essex2014.23LancashireChelmsfordJun 2013

Question marks were raised about the validity of University sides playing first-class cricket just last year when Durham MCCU were bowled out for just 18 by their county club neighbours at the Emirates Durham ICG early in their 2012 season.

And that was the only other occurrence since the Second World War of a side being bowled out for less than 20 in a first-class match in England.

Honours in that respect - if you can call it that - must go to South African provincial side Border. Not only did they get bowled out for 16 in their first innings of their Currie Cup match against Natal in East London in December 1959, they followed it up, when chasing 369 to win, by being removed for just 18 second time around with three batsmen being dismissed for a pair.

The lowest ever first-class team total is very unlikely to ever be beaten as it is a record that has stood for over 200 years.

It was in a match played at the Lord's Old Ground in Dorset Square, London between England and The B's in June 1810.

The B's were a first-class team who played occasionally in the early 19th century and were predominantly made up of players whose surnames began with the letter B (so the current England team would do quite well with Bell, Broad, Bresnan, Buttler, Bairstow and Bopara).

In the three-day match, The B's scored 137 and they held a first innings lead over England, who was dismissed for only 100.

Hoping to build on their advantage, The B's came out for their second innings but were knocked over - nine wickets down as Edward Budd was absent hurt - for just SIX!

Hambledon and Surrey batsman John Wells, one of two players who wasn't a B in the team, hit four in one hit, Samuel Bridger scored one and James Lawrell - the other of the non-B players - scored the other run. England went on to win the game by six wickets.


Essex's effort was the 35th time in first-class cricket a team has been bowled out for 20 or less but only once has that score been good enough to actually win the game.

In a famous match at Edgbaston in June 1922 between Warwickshire and Hampshire, the home side scored a steady 223 in their first innings.

Hampshire's reply was just a mere 15 as Harry Howell and The Honourable Freddie Calthorpe ran through the visitors with six and four wickets respectively.

Asked to follow on, Hampshire fared much better and centuries from George Brown (172) and wicket-keeper Walter Livsey (110*) saw them to 521 in the second innings - quite an improvement!

Set 314 to win, it was Hampshire who had the last laugh as the hosts were dismissed for 158, giving The Honourable (later Lord) Lionel Tennyson's men victory by 155 runs.

Sadly, for Essex, their score of 20 against Lancashire sits firmly in the pile of defeated sides.