Gloucestershire vs Somerset, 1893
When Gloucestershire played Middlesex at Clifton College in August 1893, it marked the debut of two new, young Gloucestershire hopefuls, both pupils at the College and both sons of Gloucestershire cricketers who had played in the county’s first game in 1870. William Gilbert Grace junior, who had just passed his nineteenth birthday and was Captain of the College XI and sixteen year-old Charles Lucas Townsend were brought into the side as the county tried to engineer a change in their fortunes, having lost six out of their previous eight games. In the event, the match was lost by an innings and 98 runs although Townsend bowled well for his three wickets and had a number of catches dropped, one of which was by WG senior. WG junior top-scored in the Gloucestershire second innings with eleven out of a total of 52.
The magazine, The Field, in reporting on the game said that “While we doubt that Mr Grace will ever make us forget the great deeds of his father, there is plenty of promise in Mr Townsend who, with increasing age and experience should make a very fine bowler”
They were both selected for the next game which was against Somerset at Cheltenham College and in the absence of WG senior, on duty captaining England against Australia at the Oval, the side was led by EM.
Somerset won the toss and batted, scoring 197. Gloucestershire in reply managed 166, conceding a lead of 31. In their second innings Somerset pressed home their advantage taking their score to 265 for 6 wickets when Sammy Woods, trying to push the score along was caught by Mr. de Winton off the bowling of Charlie Townsend. Townsend, who in the first innings had bowled without much success – figures of 1–71 in 20 overs – had only just been introduced into the attack as the close of play started to approach. The next few minutes saw the occurrence of something still unique in first class cricket some 127 years later.
Here’s how the Gloucester Citizen described the end of the Somerset innings:
The final wicket, that of Tyler, might have been a “gimme” with the batsman contributing to his own downfall, by charging at the hat-trick ball. H E Roslyn who had covered the vast majority of Gloucestershire games since 1887 subsequently wrote:
“To Charlie Townsend belongs the distinction of a unique hat-trick, all his three victims being stumped by W.H. Brain. That happened in a game with Somerset at Cheltenham. Teddy Tyler, the third of the bunch, did, I believe, deliberately contribute to the performance of the feat. It was one of those things he would enjoy with his side in no danger of defeat.”
Whether true or not, it does not take away the unique circumstances of the occasion
Set to score 302 to win on the final day, Gloucestershire could only manage one hundred and seventy four, leaving Somerset winners by 127 runs.
The ball was kept by Brain who eventually gave it to Townsend. It is inscribed:
“GIVEN TO ME BY WH BRAIN WHO HELPED ME TO DO THE HAT TRICK BY STUMPING THE THREE MEN. A RECORD”
“CL TOWNSEND GLOUCESTERSHIRE AND SOMERSETSHIRE 8 OVERS 2 MAIDENS 16 RUNS 4 WICKETS AND “HAT TRICK” AUG 14. 15. 16. 1893”