The Cricket Field
The Slow Bowler and Sct y to the All England Eleven.
London. Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans.
THE HISTORY AND THE SCIENCE
GAME OF CRICKET.
THE AUTHOR OF "THE PRINCIPLES OF SCIENTIFIC BATTING,"
"RECOLLECTIONS OF COLLEGE DAYS,"
"Gaudet .... aprici gramine campi."
Molliter austerum studio fallente laborem." — Hon.
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS.
"'T was in the prime of summer time,
An evening calm and cool,
And five and twenty happy boys
Came bounding out of school.
Away they aped with gamesome minds
And souls untouched with sin;
To a level mead they came, and there
They drove the wickets in."
A. and G.A. Spottiswoode.
J. A. B. MARSHALL, ESQ.,
MEMBERS OF THE LANSDOWN CRICKET CLUB,
BY ONE OF THEIR OLDEST MEMBERS
AND SINCERE FRIEND,
THE SECOND EDITION.
This Edition is greatly improved by various additions and corrections, for which we gratefully acknowledge our obligations to the Rev. R. T. King and Mr. A. Haygarth, as also once more to Mr. A. Bass and Mr. Whateley of Burton. For our practical instructions on Bowling, Batting, and Fielding, the first players of the day have been consulted, each on the point in which he respectively excelled. More discoveries have also been made illustrative of the origin and early history of Cricket; and we trust nothing is wanting to maintain the high character now accorded to the "Cricket Field," as the Standard Authority on every part of our National Game.
May, 18. 1854.
THE FIRST EDITION.
The following pages are devoted to the history and the science of our National Game. Isaac Walton has added a charm to the Rod and Line; Col. Hawker to the Dog and the Gun; and Nimrod and Harry Hieover to the "Hunting Field:" but, the "Cricket Field" is to this day untrodden ground. We have been long expecting to hear of some chronicler aided and abetted by the noblemen and gentlemen of the Marylebone Club,—one who should combine, with all the resources of a ready writer, traditionary lore and practical experience. But, time is fast thinning the ranks of the veterans. Lord Frederick Beauclerk and the once celebrated player, the Hon. Henry Tufton, afterwards Earl of Thanet, have passed away; and probably Sparkes, of the Edinburgh Ground, and Mr. John Goldham, hereinafter mentioned, are the only surviving players who have witnessed both the formation and the jubilee of the Marylebone Club—following, as it has, the fortunes of the Pavilion and of the enterprising Thomas Lord, literally through "three removes" and "one fire," from White Conduit Fields to the present Lord's.
How, then, it will be asked, do we presume to save from oblivion the records of Cricket?
As regards the Antiquities of the game, our history is the result of patient researches in old English literature. As regards its changes and chances and the players of olden time, it fortunately happens that, some fifteen years ago, we furnished ourselves with old Nyren's account of the Cricketers of his time and the Hambledon Club, and, using Bentley's Book of Matches from 1786 to 1825 to suggest questions and test the truth of answers, we passed many an interesting hour in Hampshire and Surrey, by the peat fires of those villages which reared the Walkers, David Harris, Beldham, Wells, and some others of the All England players of fifty years since. Bennett, Harry Hampton, Beldham, and Sparkes, who first taught us to play,—all men of the last century,—have at various times contributed to our earlier annals; while Thomas Beagley, for some days our landlord, the late Mr. Ward, and especially Mr. E. H. Budd, often our antagonist in Lansdown matches, have respectively assisted in the first twenty years of the present century.
But, distinct mention must we make of one most important Chronicler, whose recollections were coextensive with the whole history of the game in its matured and perfect form—William Fennex. And here we must thank our kind friend the Rev. John Mitford, of Benhall, for his memoranda of many a winter's evening with that fine old player,—papers especially valuable because Fennex's impressions were so distinct, and his observation so correct, that, added to his practical illustrations with bat and ball, no other man could enable us so truthfully to compare ancient with modern times. Old Fennex, in his declining years, was hospitably appointed by Mr. Mitford to a sinecure office, created expressly in his honour, in the beautiful gardens of Benhall; and Pilch, and Box, and Bayley, and all his old acquaintance, will not be surprised to hear that the old man would carefully water and roll his little cricket-ground on summer mornings, and on wet and wintry days would sit in the chimney-corner, dealing over and over again by the hour, to an imaginary partner, a very dark and dingy pack of cards, and would then sally forth to teach a long remembered lesson to some hob-nailed frequenter of the village ale-house.
So much for the History: but why should we yenture on the Science of the game?
Many may be excellently qualified, and have a fund of anecdote and illustration, still not one of the many will venture on a book. Hundreds play without knowing principles; many know what they cannot explain; and some could explain, but fear the certain labour and cost, with the most uncertain return, of authorship. For our own part, we have felt our way. The wide circulation of our "Recollections of College Days" and "Course of English Reading" promises a patient hearing on subjects within our proper sphere; and that in this sphere lies Cricket, we may without vanity presume to assert. For in August last, at Mr. Dark's Repository at Lord's, our little treatise on the "Principles of Scientific Batting" (Slatter: Oxford, 1835) was singled out as "the book which contained as much on Cricket as all that had ever been written, and more besides." That same day did we proceed to arrange with Messrs. Longman, naturally desirous to lead a second advance movement, as we led the first, and to break the spell which, we had thus been assured, had for fifteen years chained down the invention of literary cricketers at the identical point where we left off; for, not a single rule or principle has yet been published in advance of our own; though more than one author has been kind enough to adopt (thinking, no doubt, the parents were dead) our ideas, and language too!
"Shall we ever make new books," asks Tristram Shandy, "as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?" No. But so common is the failing, that actually even this illustration of plagiarism Sterne stole from Burton!
Like solitary travellers from unknown lands, we are naturally desirous to offer some confirmation of statements, depending otherwise too much on our literary honour. We, happily, have received the following from—we believe the oldest player of the day who can be pronounced a good player still—Mr. E. H. Budd:—
"I return the proof-sheets of the History of my Contemporaries, and can truly say that they do indeed remind me of old times. I find one thing only to correct, which I hope you will be in time to alter, for your accuracy will then, to the best of my belief, be wholly without exception:—write twenty guineas, and not twenty-five, as the sum offered, by old Thomas Lord, if any one should hit out of his ground where now is Dorset Square.
"You invite me to note further particulars for your second edition: the only omission I can at present detect is this,—the name of Lord George Kerr, son of the Marquis of Lothian, should be added to your list of the Patrons of the Old Surrey Players; for, his lordship lived in the midst of them at Farnham; and, I have often heard Beldham say, used to provide bread and cheese and beer for as many as would come out and practise on a summer's evening: this is too substantial a supporter of the Noble Game to be forgotten."
We must not conclude without grateful acknowledgments to some distinguished amateurs representing the science both of the northern and the southern counties, who have kindly allowed us to compare notes on various points of play. In all of our instructions in Batting, we have greatly benefited by the assistance, in the first instance, of Mr. A. Bass of Burton, and his friend Mr. Whateley, a gentleman who truly understands "Philosophy in Sport" Then, the Hon. Robert Grimston judiciously suggested some modification of our plan. We agreed with him that, for a popular work, and one "for play hours," the lighter parts should prevail over the heavier; for, with most persons, a little science goes a long way, and our "winged words," if made too weighty, might not fly far; seeing, as said Thucydides, "men do find it such a bore to learn any thing that gives them trouble." For these reasons we drew more largely on our funds of anecdote and illustration, which had been greatly enriched by the contributions of a highly valued correspondent—Mr. E. S. E. Hartopp. When thus the science of batting had been reduced to its fair proportions, it was happily undertaken by the Hon. Frederick Ponsonby, not only through kindness to ourselves personally, but also, we feel assured, because he takes a pleasure in protecting the interests of the rising generation. By his advice, we became more distinct in our explanations, and particularly careful of venturing on such refinements of science as, though sound in theory, may possibly produce errors in practice.
For our artist we have one word to say: not indeed for the engravings in our frontispiece,—these having received unqualified approbation; but, we allude to the illustrations of attitudes. In vain did our artist assure us that a fore-shortened position would defy every attempt at ease, energy, or elegance; we felt bound to insist on sacrificing the effect of the picture to its utility as an illustration. Our principal design is to show the position of the feet and bat with regard to the wicket, and how every hit, with one exception, the Cut, is made by no other change of attitude than results from the movement of the left foot alone.
April 15th, 1851.
Origin of the Game of Cricket
The general Character of Cricket
The Hambledon Club and the Old Players
Cricket generally established as a National Game by the End of the last Century
The First Twenty Years of the present Century
A dark Chapter in the History of Cricket
The Science and Art of Batting
Hints against Slow Bowling
Bowling.—An Hour with "Old Clarke"
Hints on Fielding
Chapter of Accidents.—Miscellaneous
- B. i. c. 20.