TWO opening batsmen who played in the Australian tour of England in 1926 have been reunited after nearly 90 years.
Andy Collier, owner of the Cotswold Cricket Museum in Stow, was amazed when a cricket bat used by tour captain Herbie Collins recently turned up in a house clearance in Andoversford.
The museum owner said he could not believe his luck as he already had the bat used by fellow tour batsman, Warren Bardsley, which has been in his collection for the last seven years.
Dedicated to 'Robert' from Herbie Collins, the bat is in excellent condition and has now been donated to the museum and will sit in pride of place alongside the original.
"It's absolutely amazing, this sort of thing doesn't happen," said Mr Collier. "The chances of it happening are pretty slim. It's quite a unique thing really. The bat itself is unique. It's a cricket fan's dream if you know your history.
"Whoever was clearing the house out found this bat and thought of us after seeing us on Antiques Road Trip. They thought it would be the best place to have it."
Mr Collier, who has devoted more than 20 years to the task of bringing the artefacts together and thoroughly researching the story of each item to confirm its authenticity, said the extraordinary find had left visitors gobsmacked.
"Everybody thinks it's amazing they've come back together to resume their opening partnership," he said. "I would like to know who Robert was, but we don't know that yet.
"Herbie Collins was suffering arthritis so there's a theory he was convalescing around this area so he might have given the bat to someone. But we will probably never know.
"Once you start learning about the history of cricket there's more you want to know."
England won the 1926 Ashes series against Australia, by winning the last game at the Oval.
During the tour, Mr Bardsley scored 193 runs not out at Lords and was the oldest player to carry his bat in test history at the age of 42, which is the same one in the museum today.