Tales from the Boundary
FAST SCORING AND FAST BOWLING - BRENTWOOD 1934
1934 was a pivotal year for Essex; they left Leyton in order to play home games around the county, and Brentwood was one of the new venues. The first visitors were Kent; they won the toss on a perfect pitch and ran up 623 for 3 on the first day. Next morning they thrashed another 180 before declaring at 803 for 4 (Ashdown 332, Ames 202 not out, Woolley 172). Ray Smith and Claude Ashton went for over 100, and Peter Smith had 0 for 208. Kent scored at nearly 6 an over. Despite centuries by Pope and O'Connor, Essex ended the day on 366 for 7, and the next day Tich Freeman exploited some wear to claim 11 for 176 as Kent won by an innings and 192.
For the second game against Surrey, Essex brought in Hubert Ashton, Tommy Wade and Hopper Read. Surrey batted, but any hope they had of emulating Kent soon vanished as Read, bowling very fast with the wind behind him, scorched through the Surrey side with 7 for 35, including Jack Hobbs – bowled in the first over; Surrey made 115. Essex showed there was nothing wrong with the pitch, as O'Connor and Claude Ashton put on 287, of which 242 were added in the last session of the day.
Next day Laurie Eastman piled in with 85, and Essex declared at 570 for 8 (O'Connor 248 not out) scored at 5 an over. Surrey's chances of saving the match soon disappeared, not helped by two run-outs while Percy Fender was unable to bat having broken a finger while in the field. Remarkably, Essex won by an innings and 192 - the same margin as in the Kent game.
Essex finished 8th - winding up with a splendid innings win over Yorkshire at Southend, due mainly to a century by Denys Wilcox and 11 wickets for Ken Farnes. Opposing batsmen were no doubt grateful that Farnes and Read never played in the same side that year!
Kent's triple centurion Bill Ashdown was the holder of a unique record; he was the only man to appear in first-class cricket both before the First World War and after the Second World War.
Shortly after the season ended, Dudley Pope was killed in a car crash at Writtle. Joining Essex from Gloucestershire, he had been an effective and popular member of the side. It was a great loss to Essex cricket.