London Cricket Club

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London Cricket Club
Team information
Establishedbefore 1722
Last matchc. 1769
Home venue Artillery Ground
History
Notable players

The original London Cricket Club was formed by 1722 and was one of the foremost clubs in English cricket over the next four decades, holding important match status. It is closely associated with the Artillery Ground, where it played most of its home matches.

Cricket Team sport played with bats and balls

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player. Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground. When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match's statistical information.

Artillery Ground park in the United Kingdom

The Artillery Ground in Finsbury is an open space originally set aside for archery and later known also as a cricket venue. Today it is used for military exercises, rugby and football matches. It belongs to the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), whose headquarters, Armoury House, overlook the grounds.

Contents

Early history of London cricket

The earliest definite mention of cricket being played anywhere is at Guildford in the 16th century and there can be little doubt that the game had reached London by that time. Even so, there is no written reference to the game in London until 1680. [1]

Guildford county town of Surrey in England

Guildford is a large town in Surrey, England, 27 miles (43 km) southwest of London on the A3 trunk road midway between the capital and Portsmouth.

A publication called The Post Man reported from 21 June 1707 to 24 June 1707 that "two great matches at cricket (to be) plaid, between London and Croydon; the first at Croydon on Tuesday, July 1st, and the other to be plaid in Lamb's-Conduit-Fields, near Holborn, on the Tuesday following, being the 3rd of July". No match reports could be found so the results and scores are unknown (note that 3 July in 1707 was a Thursday). [2]

The 1707 London team may have been just an occasional XI as the foundation date of London Cricket Club is unknown. But it was in existence by 1722 when it was referred to as such re a game versus Dartford. [3]

Dartford Cricket Club is one of the oldest cricket clubs in England with origins which date from the early 18th century, perhaps earlier. The earliest known match involving a team from Dartford took place in 1722, against London, but the club's own website says it was formally established in 1727. The club is still in existence and now plays in the Kent Cricket League.

The Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Club

London Cricket Club was founded and organised by members of what is usually termed the Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Club, which had its headquarters at the Star and Garter on Pall Mall in London. This gentlemen's club was multi-functional, though essentially of a social and sporting nature, but its purpose was to encourage and enable gambling. For example, its members also founded the Jockey Club and were usually involved with organising big prizefighting events. Cricket throughout the 18th century was funded by gambling interests and attracted huge stakes.

Pall Mall, London street in London, England

Pall Mall is a street in the St James's area of the City of Westminster, Central London. It connects St James's Street to Trafalgar Square and is a section of the regional A4 road. The street's name is derived from 'pall-mall', a ball game played there during the 17th century.

Jockey Club UK organization responsible for regulating racing

The Jockey Club is the largest commercial horse racing organisation in the United Kingdom. No longer responsible for the governance and regulation of British horseracing, today it owns 15 of Britain's famous racecourses, including Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and both the Rowley Mile and July Course in Newmarket, amongst other concerns such as the National Stud, and the property and land management company, Jockey Club Estates. The registered charity Racing Welfare is also a company limited by guarantee with the Jockey Club being the sole member. As it is governed by Royal Charter, all profits it makes are reinvested back into the sport.

Gambling has always had its unsavoury side and eventually the Artillery Ground became a place of ill-repute. The club members became uneasy about associating with a place that was widely known for licentious and, occasionally, riotous behaviour, even though it showcased cricket of the highest class. Cricket was severely impacted by the Seven Years' War from 1756 to 1763 and the number of matches played greatly reduced. There are signs of the game returning to its rural roots during this period and evidently the aristocrats were happy with that development. Apart from four matches in the 1769 English cricket season, there are few mentions of London as a team in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War and many of the references suggest that these teams were in fact occasional "London XIs" rather than representing an organised London club.

Seven Years War Global conflict between 1756 and 1763

The Seven Years' War was a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions, led by the Kingdom of Great Britain on one side and the Kingdom of France, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire on the other. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal.

The 1769 English cricket season was the 26th season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket. Details have survived of 11 eleven-a-side matches between significant teams. It was the last season in which the original London Cricket Club and the Artillery Ground featured prominently.

The Artillery Ground itself began to be used less and less after 1763. A match on 15 September 1778 is the last important one played there. Hambledon was already by then the predominant centre of English cricket and a lot of games were being played at other outlying venues such as Laleham Burway, Bourne Paddock and Sevenoaks Vine. London for the time being had been abandoned.

It is reasonable to assume that the London Cricket Club was disbanded during the Seven Years' War. With its demise and the war situation, the "honourable gentlemen" retreated to the countryside and founded or at least augmented the Hambledon Club, which was the main centre of cricket from about 1765 for the next twenty years.

In the early 1780s, the gentlemen decided to re-establish themselves in the vicinity of London and founded the White Conduit Club in Islington. But they were not happy about the environment of White Conduit Fields and commissioned Thomas Lord to find a "more private venue". He opened Lord's Old Ground in 1787 in Marylebone. The gentlemen moved their cricketing interests there and reinvented themselves as Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which is thus a direct continuation of the old London Cricket Club.

Players

Very little is known of London's players during its heyday, from the 1720s to the 1760s. The following are the names that have been recorded by the season in which they are first mentioned in the sources.

Matches

In the 1720s, the London club seemed to share its time between Kennington Common and White Conduit Fields but it increasingly began to use the Artillery Ground from 1730.

The 1730s were the glory days of London Cricket Club and it completely dominated the cricket scene, especially given its royal and aristocratic patronage. One of the earliest good players mentioned is "the famous Tim Coleman" who was referred as such in 1731 when it was rare to see any player named in the newspapers. [2]

London's main opponents in the 1730s were Croydon and Dartford. They played matches against various other parish clubs and sometimes took on county sides, mainly Kent, Surrey and Sussex. There is sometimes confusion in the reports when London is identified with Middlesex and vice versa but, in general, London means the club and Middlesex was a team of players born in the county who were not necessarily of the London club.

The club's best season may have been the 1732 season when it was unbeaten. As a report recounts after the final match: This is the thirteenth match the London gamesters have played this year and not lost one match. [1]

As the 1730s progressed, London continued to be generally successful. From time to time, challengers appeared. Chertsey Cricket Club first made its mark in the 1736 season and London also had some tight contests against Chislehurst in the late 1730s.

But the biggest challenge to London's dominance emerged in the 1741 season. This was Slindon which starred the great all-rounder Richard Newland and was backed by the Duke of Richmond. After Slindon beat Surrey "almost in one innings" at the end of that season, it was inevitable they would come to the Artillery Ground and play London. This happened in 1742 when two matches were played against a background of furious gambling with huge wagers being laid against Newland's expected performance. London prevailed, winning the first match "with great difficulty" and then, having been assisted by the weather, thrashing Slindon by 184 runs in the second. [4]

It was London's turn to be thrashed in 1743 when they played another of the "great little clubs": Addington Cricket Club who, on their first appearance at the Artillery Ground, easily won by an innings and 4 runs. Addington did have the great player Robert Colchin as a given man.

In 1744, Slindon were back and in June they beat London by 55 runs in a match whose scores have been preserved by the earliest known cricket scorecard. [5] Slindon beat London again in September and proceeded to issue their audacious challenge to play against any parish in England. London did not take up the challenge: only Addington and Bromley felt able to respond.

There was a noticeable increase in the popularity of single wicket contests in the late 1740s although the London club often arranged these at the Artillery Ground. In the eleven a side game, county matches or games involving "best elevens" were the norm and, as the 1750s began, London was really playing parish matches only unless it had several given men.

Related Research Articles

The years from 1726 to 1763 are the period in which cricket established itself as a leading sport in London and the south-eastern counties of England. In 1726, it was already a thriving sport in the south east and, though limited by the constraints of travel at the time, it was slowly gaining adherents in other parts of England, its growth accelerating with references being found in many counties to 1763. Having been essentially a rural pastime for well over a century before the Restoration in 1660, cricket became a focus for wealthy patrons and gamblers whose interests were to fund its growth throughout the 18th century. Their investment poured money into the game and created the earliest county teams, the first professionals and the first important clubs, all participating in games that have important match status.

The 1744 English cricket season was the 48th cricket season since the earliest recorded eleven-a-side match was played. The earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket dates from this year as do the two earliest surviving match scorecards. Details have survived of 20 significant eleven-a-side and three single wicket matches.

White Conduit Fields

White Conduit Fields in Islington was an early venue for cricket and several major matches are known to have been played there in the 18th century. It was the original home of the White Conduit Club, forerunner of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The cricket field was adjacent to the former White Conduit House, immediately south of the modern junction between Dewey Street and Barnsbury Road.

The White Conduit Club (WCC) was a cricket club based on the northern fringes of London that existed between about 1782 until 1788. Although short-lived, it had considerable significance in the history of the game, as its members created Lord's Old Ground, the first cricket venue which would go on to become Lord's, and subsequently reorganised themselves as the new Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

Richard Newland (1713–1778) was an English cricketer in the mid-Georgian period who played for Slindon Cricket Club and Sussex under the patronage of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. He also represented various All-England teams. Newland made 26 known appearances from 1741 to 1751, including eight in single wicket matches.

William Sawyer was an English professional cricketer who played during the 1730s and 1740s. He was mainly associated with Richmond and Surrey. Although information about his career is limited by a lack of surviving data, he is known to have made two single wicket and four other appearances between 1736 and 1747. He spent his whole life in Richmond and was an innkeeper there.

The 1743 English cricket season was the 47th cricket season since the earliest recorded eleven-a-side match was played. Details have survived of 18 eleven-a-side and three single wicket matches.

The 1745 English cricket season was the second season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket.

The 1746 English cricket season was the third season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket.

The 1747 English cricket season was the fourth season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket.

The 1749 English cricket season was the sixth season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket.

The 1750 English cricket season was the seventh season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket. Details have survived of six eleven-a-side matches between significant teams, including three inter-county matches played between Kent and Surrey.

The 1752 English cricket season was the ninth season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket. Details have survived of 12 eleven-a-side matches between significant teams.

The 1754 English cricket season was the 11th season following the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket. Details have survived of four eleven-a-side matches between significant teams.

1787 was the 91st English cricket season since the earliest known important match was played and is widely seen as a watershed in the sport's history because it marked the transition from an essentially rural game into an urban and metropolitan one. The event that effected the transition was the foundation of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) after the opening of Thomas Lord's first cricket ground in the parish of Marylebone, north of London. Lord was financed by the aristocratic members of the long-standing and multi-functional Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Club which was based at the Star and Garter on Pall Mall and had already founded the Jockey Club to pursue its racing interests. Its most recent cricket venture had been the White Conduit Club in Islington.

Edward Aburrow senior was a noted English cricketer of the mid-18th century. He was a Sussex man, who played for the famous village of Slindon, where his son Edward "Curry" Aburrow was born.

Addington Cricket Club fielded one of the strongest cricket teams in England from about the 1743 season to the 1752 season although the village of Addington is a very small place in Surrey about three miles south-east of Croydon. The team was of county strength and featured the noted players Tom Faulkner, Joe Harris, John Harris, George Jackson and Durling. The team immediately accepted the Slindon Challenge, in 1744, to play against any parish in England. The only other club to accept was Robert Colchin's Bromley.

Bromley Cricket Club was one of the strongest English cricket clubs in the mid-18th century when its team was led by Robert Colchin a.k.a. "Long Robin".

Slindon Cricket Club

Slindon Cricket Club was famous in the middle part of the 18th century when it claimed to have the best team in England. It was located at Slindon, a village in the Arun district of Sussex.

Representing Lingfield in Surrey, Lingfield Cricket Club was prominent in the 18th century, known to have taken part in important matches between 1739 and 1785. They were especially noted in the mid-1740s. According to surviving records, the club is believed to have used Lingfield Common as its home venue in the 18th century. The club has survived and its team currently plays in the Surrey County League; its home venue is Godstone Road, Lingfield.

References

  1. 1 2 G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket, Cotterell, 1935.
  2. 1 2 3 H. T. Waghorn, The Dawn of Cricket, Electric Press, 1906.
  3. From Lads to Lord's – London Cricket Club
  4. Timothy J. McCann, Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century, Sussex Record Society, 2004.
  5. West Sussex Records Office.

Further reading