1959: A Burnley Bonanza – Cricket’s Strangest Matches

A book has been published called Cricket’s Strangest Matches, what book would be complete without Lowerhouse featuring in it? A great spot by Eric Howarth who sent it in. Ironically, it’s Lowerhouse versus Burnley in the first round of the Worlsey Cup in 1959

His real name was O’Neill Gordon Smith and he was raised as an orphan in Jamaica. After he had scored a century against the Australian touring team, in 1955, he hit another century on his Test debut for the West Indies, the first of his 26 Tests in four years. When Burnley signed ‘Collie’ Smith for their Lancashire Leagle team in 1959, they were recruiting a player considered by many to be as good an all-rounder as his close friend Gary Sobers.

‘Collie Smith etched his name into the Lancashire League record books with his performance in the first round of the Worsley Cup, which was played over four evenings early in June. The two teams, Burnley and Lowerhouse, batted on each evening even though it was a one-innings game.

Smith, going in at the fall of the second Burnley wicket, batted on all four evenings. The West End ground was too small to permit sixes, but Smith hit 56 boundaries in his undefeated innings of 306, a record for all Lancashire Leagues. The biggest spell of hitting came on the third evening, when he repeatedly hit the ball into a nearby park. The Burnley last man stayed with him long enough for Smith’s treble-century to be achieved. The innings forced the scorers to stick appendices into their scorebooks and made casual park-users take refuge. He was dropped five times, but such was the power of his hitting, staggering for a man of only 5 ft 2 in, that all the chances were difficult, and none came before his first century.His 306 comfortably beat the previous Lancashire League high scores, by men like Albert Rhodes (220 for Haslingden in 1925) and West Indies Test star Everton Weekes, who, playing for Bacup, hit unbeaten scores of 195 in 1949 and 225 in 1958. Such are the vagaries of cricket, however, that ‘Collie’ Smith’s next innings ended quickly, bowled by Nelson’s Johnny Wardle Lancashire League record. Over the same four evenings, for six. The Burnley total of 523 for nine declared was also Lowerhouse made their way to an all-out total of 147. This meant that Burnley won by 376 runs and one wicket. “Collie’ Smith was 26 at the time of his mammoth innings. Later that summer he was killed in a car crash. Cricket lost bouncy character who was an exceptionally strong hitter and niggling off-break bowler. Smith made 1,331 Test runs at 31.69 and took 48 wickets at 33.85.