THE MARYLEBONE CLUB AND UNIVERSITY CRICKET.
MY connection with the Marylebone Club dates from the 13th of May, 1869, when I was not quite twenty-one years of age. I have said elsewhere that I considered it a very high compliment to be thought worthy of a place in the club which has done more than any other to develop the game, and I have nothing but the very pleasantest recollections of the twenty-two years I have played for it. The M.C.C. had been in existence 82 years when I joined it; there were 1,200 members, and the number of matches played during the season was something under 40. To-day it is 104 years old; the list of members has swelled to 3,500, and as many as 160 matches were played last year, of which 84 were won, 40 lost, and 36 drawn. It will be of interest to touch briefly upon the growth of the old club, which is now acknowledged to be the authority on cricket, not only in England, but wherever the game is played.
About the year 1780 the White Conduit Club was the most important in London, and Thomas Lord, a kind of half-attendant, half-ground bowler, was in the habit of bowling to the members. The White Conduit Club, like most cricket clubs, had to contend against internal dissensions, and some of the members decided to go elsewhere. But the difficulty in the way was a suitable spot for a ground, for there were at most only two of any importance in London at the time. Lord was asked to look about in the neighbourhood of Marylebone, and was promised influential support if he succeeded. The Earl of Winchelsea and Col. the Hon. Lennox were the principal movers in the matter; and Lord, being a bit of an enthusiast, and realising that the speculation was likely to turn out well, at once proceeded to carry out the suggestion. By 1787 a suitable spot, now known as Dorset Square, was acquired, and Lord's Ground and the Marylebone Club became accomplished facts.
The Club must Jiave had an influential membership even at that date, for the following year we find it revising the laws of the game. At once it began to play matches with the White Conduit and other clubs; but the first recorded is M.C.C. v. White Conduit Club, on the 27th June, 1788, which the M.C.C. won by 83 runs. Everything went smoothly for a period of twenty-two years; then Lord, owing to a dispute with his landlord about an increase of rent, had to leave Dorset Square. North Bank, Regent's Park, was next chosen, in 1810: but that was to be a very short abiding place; for in 1812 the making of Regent's Canal caused the ground to be cut up.
Neither the Club nor Lord was disheartened; for in 1814 the present site in John's Wood was secured, and there the club has played ever since. A year or two previously the Homerton Club, the next in importance, amalgamated with the M.C.C., and the playing eleven became a very strong one. But it should be remembered that before this some of the members of the old Hambledon Club, which broke up in 1791, had played for the M.C.C., and consequently strengthened it. Matches against England, London, Kent, Middlesex, Hampshire, and other clubs, had been of frequent occurrence before the end of the eighteenth century, and the fame of the M.C.C. had gone over the land.
Lord and the club committee must have thought highly of the turf on which they played at Dorset Square; for it was taken up and relaid on the North Bank Ground, and afterwards transferred to St. John's Wood Road. The earliest recorded match of the M.C.C. on its present ground was played against Hertfordshire on the 22nd June, 1814, the M.C.C. winning by an innings and 27 runs. In the eleven representing the winning side were four players who were well known all over the cricket world, and who maintained their reputation for many years afterwards Lord Frederick Beauclerk, Messrs. E. H. Budd, G. Osbaldeston, and W. Ward.
Harrow and Winchester played against each other for the first time at Lord's on the 27th and 28th July, 1825, and the match will be remembered for the disastrous fire which took place in the pavilion during the night of the last day. Valuable records of the game which could not be replaced were destroyed, and Lord suffered rather heavily. Something like 2,600 was due to him for subscriptions; but as the books had been burnt, it was difficult for him to remember who had paid and who had not.
It is just possible that Lord was discouraged by it: anyhow, we find he desired to retire, and for the moment it looked as if the ground would fall into the hands of the builders, who had coveted it for many years. Mr. Ward very generously stepped in and purchased the remainder of the lease at a very high price, and the club continued its prosperous career. The pavilion was quickly rebuilt, and two years later Oxford and Cambridge began their annual contests.
Mr. Ward unfortunately could not see his way to hold the lease after 1835, and Mr. J. H. Dark took it off his hands and became the proprietor in 1836. The club seems to have got on pretty smoothly under the proprietorship of Mr. Dark until 1863, when he proposed to part with the remainder of his lease of 29, years for the sum of £15,000. The year after he accepted £11,000; and Mr. Moses, the ground landlord, offered a renewal of the ground-rent for 99 years at the rate of £550 per annum. Considering that the old rent had only been £150, the club had now to face a considerable increase in its yearly expenses. Nothing daunted, the Committee accepted: but Mr. Moses came forward in 1865 with a new offer; viz., to sell the fee outright for a sum of £21,000. Eventually he accepted £18,150; and Mr. W. Nicholson, a member of the committee, in a very landable spirit advanced the money on a mortgage of the premises at the rate of £5 per cent., which he afterwards reduced to £4 per cent., and conceded to the club the right to pay him off by annual instalments.
At last the club could call the ground its own, and the strides it made in the next twenty years were really remarkable. By 1878 the whole amount had been paid off, and the finances of the club established on a firm footing, which it has since maintained. In 1866, when Mr. Nicholson bought up the freehold, the club numbered 980 members, and had an income slightly over £6,000; to-day, as I have already said, it has 3,500 members, with a total income of £30,000. It is no secret that the committee, if they desired, could double the membership in a month's time; for applications for election come from all parts of the globe. However, they have no desire to do so, for it is their aim that the club shall not exceed the limit which would affect the comfort and enjoyment of the present members; and a rule has been passed which admits only of 156 members being elected yearly, active cricketers preferred, and half of them being specially selected.There is no need to say that the club is in a prosperous condition. If proof were wanted of it, I have only to refer to the handsome pavilion which was recently built at a cost of £20,000. The Hon. Sir Spencer Ponsonby Fane laid the first stone on the 17th September, 1889, and everything was completed by the beginning of 1890. It is capable of accommodating 3,000 people, and is a vast improvement on the old structure, which had weathered the storms of 65 years. The entire size of the ground is 12 acres; the enclosed part for playing matches, 6 acres. All round it improvements have been made and are being made yearly. Ten men are employed throughout the year to look after it, and everything in connection with it is in apple-pie order.
The Marylebone Cricket Club is the first in the world, and is held in deserved respect by everyone who plays the game. At home and abroad, every Englishman refers to it with pardonable pride, and upholds it as the chief bulwark of our national game.
The M.C.C. is everywhere acknowledged to be the maker and preserver of the laws. It has been accused of being too conservative in some respects, and of not marching quickly enough in the interests of the game; but my experience of the club has shown me that it has been quick to act immediately a grievance has been made clear. Rarely a year has passed in which some point of law has not cropped up, and received calm and careful consideration. Unfair bowling, the selection of umpires, county qualifications, disputes between players of the North and South in fact, everything bearing on the welfare of the game have in turn been discussed and decided; and the opinion is general to-day that the old club has been faithful to the trust which has been placed in its hands for upwards of a hundred years.
The centenary celebration, which was held on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th June, 1887, was an important landmark in the history of the club. The first three days were devoted to first-class cricket, M.C.C. and Ground v. England, when A. E. Stoddart and Shrewsbury batted in fine form for the latter. The last three days, the Gentlemen of the M.C.C. played Eighteen Veterans of Over Forty, and the giants of the past could be seen batting with some of the giants of the present. The dinner which was held in the tennis court in the evening of the I5th brought together a most distinguished company of players and lovers of the game, numbering about two hundred. Success to the Great Army of Cricketers, the Church, the Army, the Navy, the Bench and the Bar, Medicine and the Cricket Counties was proposed in turn, and no such memorable meeting has been held since cricket was first played.
The Committee of the M.C.C. have never lost sight of the interests of professional players. Young and promising players have always been encouraged, and the most successful have rarely failed to secure an engagement on the staff of ground bowlers. There are over 40 professional cricketers engaged at Lord's, many of them earning as much as 10 per week. The season lasts about 16 weeks. For country matches they are paid at the rate of £6 per match; for matches played at Lord's, £3 10s. if they win and £3 if they lose. The ground bowlers are paid from 30 shillings to 50 shillings per week, and they can always depend on handsome gratuities from the members. Every player selected by the Committee to play against the Gentlemen is paid at the rate of £10 per match; and after years of faithful service, nearly every first-class player can rely upon a benefit match, which may be expected to realise a goodly sum.
It will readily be understood that every player covets the position of ground bowler at Lord's, and avails himself of the first offer to play there, in the hope of creating a favourable impression. The M.C.C. is generous in another way: the expenses of county teams playing against it at Lord's being defrayed by the club, while the expenses of M.C.C. Elevens which visit the provinces come out of the club funds only.
The club can also show a most distinguished roll of office bearers, but no trustworthy record can be given before 1826.
|1826||Charles Barnett, Esq.||1859||Earl of Coventry|
|1827||Henry Kingscote, Esq.||1860||Lord Skelmersdale|
|1828||A. F. Greville, Esq.||1861||Earl Spencer|
|1829||John Barnard, Esq.||1862||Earl of Sefton|
|1830||Hon. G. Ponsonby||1863||Lord Suffield|
|1831||Wm. Deedes, Esq.||1864||Earl of Dudley|
|1832||Henry Howard, Esq.||1865||Lord Ebury|
|1833||Herbert Jenner, Esq.||1866||Earl of Sandwich|
|1834||Hon. H. Ashley||1867||Earl of Verulam|
|1835||Lord Charles Russell||1868||Lord Methuen|
|1836||Lord Suffield||1869||Marquis of Lansdowne|
|1837||Viscount Grimston||1870||J. H. Scourfield, Esq., M.P.|
|1838||Marquis of Exeter||1871||Earl of Clarendon|
|1839||Earl of Chesterfield||1872||Viscount Down|
|1840||Earl of Verulam||1873||Earl of Cadogan|
|1841||Earl Craven||1874||Marquis of Hamilton|
|1842||Earl of March||1875||Sir Charles Legard Bart., M.P.|
|1843||Earl of Ducie||1876||Lord Londesborough|
|1844||Sir John Bay ley, Bart.||1877||Duke of Beaufort|
|1845||Thos. Chamberlayne, Esq.||1878||Lord Fitzhardinge|
|1846||Earl of Winterton||1879||W. Nicholson, Esq.|
|1847||Earl of Strathmore||1880||Sir Wm. Hart-Dyke, Bart., M.P.|
|1848||Earl of Leicester||1881||Lord George Hamilton|
|1849||Earl of Darnley||1882||Lord Belper|
|1850||Earl Guernsey||1883||Hon. Robert Grimston|
|1851||Earl Stamford and Warrington||1884||Earl of Winterton|
|1852||Viscount Dupplin||1885||Lord Wenloch|
|1853||Marquis of Worcester||1886||Lord Lyttelton|
|1854||Earl Vane||1887||The Hon. E. Chandos Leigh, Q.C.|
|1855||Earl of Uxbridge||1888||The Duke of Buccleuch|
|1856||Viscount Milton||1889||Sir Henry James, Q.C.|
|1857||Sir Frederick Bathurst, Bart.||1890||Lord W. de Eresby|
Only one of them died in office, and that was the Hon. Robert Grimston in 1883, than whom no warmer supporter of the game ever lived. He closely identified himself in his later years with the I Zingari and Essex clubs; but he will be best remembered for his enthusiasm over the Eton and Harrow matches at Lord's. If you had wished to know what enthusiasm meant, you had only to keep your eye on him on these occasions. For the time being there was only one thing to him worth thinking about, and it was that particular match. He was oblivious to everything outside of it, and would listen to nothing that did not bear upon the past matches of the two schools, or the one going on. And as for cheering, coaching, and encouraging his own school, the majority of us were not to be compared with him. He desired a close, exciting match; but Harrow he would have win, and when it did, there was no happier man on earth.
The M.C.C. has always been fortunate in the gentlemen who have filled the offices of Treasurer and Secretary.
|F. Ladbrooke, Esq.||R. Kynaston, Esq.|
|H. Kingscote, Esq.||T. Burgoyne, Esq.|
The Hon. Sir Spencer Ponsonby Fane, K.C.B.
Past Hon. Secretaries:
1822 to 1841—Mr. B. Aislabie.
On the 1st January, 1868, Mr. Fitzgerald became paid Secretary of the club at a salary of £400 per annum, which office he held until 1876. Mr. H. Perkins was elected in 1877 at tne same salary, and is still in office.
ANNUAL LIST OF MATCHES PLAYED BY THE M.C.C. DURING THE LAST TWENTY YEARS.
It will be very naturally asked, what do I know about University Cricket ? Not very much, I admit; for I never was in residence at either Cambridge or Oxford. But I know something about University players, and I have made a point of watching the doings of both elevens with more than common interest; for well I know it is from them the Gentlemen must expect to improve in bowling strength to enable them to ccntend at all successfully against the Players. It may safely be said that, with two or three exceptions, the great amateur bowlers of the last 50 years have belonged to either Cambridge or Oxford, and, quoting from memory, I cannot remember a year in which the Gentlemen had not two or more players in their eleven from one or the other. And, speaking from my twenty-five years' experience of first-class cricket, I fail to see that it is likely to be otherwise in the future.
I know that good bowlers and batsmen are made long before the age at which public school boys usually go to Oxford or Cambridge, and that Eton, Harrow, Rugby, and one or two others ought to have the credit of having trained the eminent University players who have stirred the cricket world. Still there can be very little doubt that it is the hard discipline which comes after 17 or 18 years of age that develops the promising boy into a first-class player.
Cambridge has the credit of having produced more first-class bowlers than Oxford, and the names of the most prominent will come readily to the mind of every cricketer Messrs. A. G. Steel and C. T. Studd in the past, and S. M. J. Woods and E. C. Streatfeild of today. Of course, if we go back farther, such great names as M. Kempson, C. D. Marsham, E. L. Fellowes, W. F. Maitland, R. Lang, H. M. Plowden, Hon. F. G. Pelham, W. N. Powys, D. Buchanan, S. E. Butler (who took all 10 wickets of Cambridge for 38 runs, in 1871), and others will be remembered. A still larger number might be mentioned; but those I have given are sufficient to prove what I have said that the great amateur bowlers have mostly come from Oxford or Cambridge.
And the same may be said of our crack batsmen, though in a lesser degree. Such great names as J. Makinson, C. G. Lane, Hon. C. G. Lyttelton, R. A. H. Mitchell, C. E. Green, W. Yardley, C. I. Thornton, W. H. Hadow, C. J. Ottaway, E. F. S. Tylecote, Lord Harris, A. J. Webbe, A. P. Lucas, Hon. A. Lyttelton, W. S. Patterson, Hon. E. Lyttelton, F. H. Buckland, A. G. Steel, C. T. Studd, Hon. Ivo Bligh, W. H. Patterson, Lord Hawke, J. H. Brain, T. C. O'Brien, K. J. Key, W. Rashleigh, Lord George Scott, H. J. Mordaunt, and others will be easily remembered: but they are by no means the only eminent batsmen who have helped materially to make cricket history during the last 25 years; for opposite them can be placed the names of a great many players of equal reputation who never belonged to either University. Nor is the reason for this far to seek; batting has always been the most popular branch of the game to the amateur, and it must be borne in mind that County Clubs, with their ground bowlers, have enabled him to keep up his form without drawing too much upon his time. Half-an-hour's practice twice a week is sufficient to keep most batsmen in form, and there are very few so placed who cannot obtain it.
Keeping up one's bowling form requires rather more attention. I know it is generally accepted that a really good bowler is born, not made; but that does not mean that he can trust to his natural talents alone to perform great feats. Nothing short of hard work, and plenty of it, will make a good bowler, however natural or exceptional his style; and, unfortunately, very few except University players seem to be able to give the necessary time.
About the best illustration I can remember at the moment is Mr. M. Kempson, with whom I have had many an interesting chat. His great desire was to play for the Gentlemen against the Players some day; and at Cambridge he used to bowl to the professionals, as well as have them bowl to him. In 1853, he bowled two hours a day for six weeks in preparation for the match; and it is now a matter of history how well he bowled, and, with Sir F. Bathurst, won the match for the Gentlemen. His careful preparation enabled him to do more with the ball than he ever did before or afterwards; and in that particular match he could almost do what he liked with it. And I remember he told me how smartly he got rid of Box, one of the most dangerous batsmen in the Players' eleven. Box's favourite hit was a smart cut between the slips, when he gpt the right ball. Mr. Kempson arranged with Mr. Nicholson, who was keeping wicket, to motion short-leg to third man as soon as he gave the signal. He did so before he delivered the last ball of the first over: bowled exactly the right ball, and Box cut it straight into Sir F. Bathurst's hands. Box's astonishment was something to be seen, not described.
The Universities have also given us some of the most brilliant of our amateur fieldsmen. Their name is legion; and I need not specify them, unless in the case of great wicket-keepers. The Hon. Alfred Lyttelton I have already referred to; but two others have since appeared who may claim the same excellence, Messrs. Philipson and McGregor. McGregor, in my estimation, is above the form of any amateur wicket-keeper who has yet represented his University, or played in any of the great contests.
The Oxford and Cambridge contests were begun in 1827, and except five have all been played at Lord's. The closest fights were in 1841, 1870, and 1875, when the victories were gained by the narrow majorities of eight, two, and six runs. On five occasions Oxford has won by an innings, whilst Cambridge has done the same thing thrice.
Not until 1870 did any player score 100 runs in an innings; but it has been done thirteen times since. They are as follow:
|Mr. K. J. Key (Oxford)||143 in 1886|
|Mr. W. Yardley (Cambridge)||130 in 1872|
|Mr. H. J. Mordaunt (Cambridge)||127 in 1889|
|Mr. G. B. Studd (Cambridge)||120 in 1882|
|Mr. F. H. Buckland (Oxford)||*117 in 1877|
|Mr. W. H. Game (Oxford)||109 in 1876|
|Mr. W. H. Patterson (Oxford)||*107 in 1881|
|Mr. W. Rashleigh (Oxford)||107 in 1886|
|Mr. W. S. Patterson (Cambridge)||*105 in 1876|
|Mr. E. Crawley (Cambridge)||*103 in 1887|
|Mr. C. W. Wright (Cambridge)||102 in 1883|
|Mr. H. W. Bainbridge (Cambridge)||101 in 1885|
|Mr. W. Yardley (Cambridge)||100 in 1870|
|Lord George Scott (Oxford)||100 in 1887|
Eight of them go to the credit of Cambridge, six to Oxford.
The highest innings yet made in these matches have been—
|Cambridge,||388 in 1872 ; 302 in 1876 ; and 300 in 1889|
|Oxford,||313 in 1887 ; 306 in 1881 ; and 304 in 1886|
The Cambridge Eleven of 1878, under the captaincy of the Hon. E. Lyttelton, is considered to have, been the strongest that ever played, and almost up to the form of an English representative eleven. Their defeat of the first Australian Eleven by an innings and 72 runs was the heaviest inflicted upon that team during the whole tour.
OXFORD v. CAMBRIDGE CONTESTS.
|1827.||Played at Lord's, 4th June ...||Drawn.|
|1829.||Played at Oxford, 8th June...||Oxford won by 115 runs.|
|1836.||Played at Lord's, 23rd June...||Oxford won by 121 runs.|
|1838.||Played at Lord's, 6th July ...||Oxford won by 98 runs.|
|1839.||Played at Lord's, 17th June...||Cambridge won by an innings and 125 runs.|
|1840.||Played at Lord's, 8th July ...||Cambridge won by 63 runs.|
|1841.||Played at Lord's, 14th July ...||Cambridge won by 8 runs.|
|1842.||Played at Lord's, 9th June ...||Cambridge won by 162 runs.|
|1843.||Played at Oxford, 8th June ...||Cambridge won 54 runs.|
|1844.||Played at Lord's, 4th July ...||Drawn.|
|1845.||Played at Lord's, 12th June ...||Cambridge won by 6 wickets.|
|1846.||Played at Oxford, 11th June ...||Oxford won by 3 wickets.|
|1847.||Played at Lord's, 17th June ...||Cambridge won by 138 runs.|
|1848.||Played at Oxford, 15th June ...||Oxford won by 23 runs.|
|1849.||Played at Lord's, 21st June ...||Cambridge won by 3 wickets.|
|1850.||Played at Oxford, 6th June ...||Oxford won by 127 runs.|
|1851.||Played at Lord's, 3rd July ...||Cambridge won by an innings and 4 runs.|
|1852.||Played at Lord's, 8th July ...||Oxford won by an innings and 77 runs.|
|1853.||Played at Lord's, 14th June ...||Oxford won by an innings and 19 runs.|
|1854.||Played at Lord's, 3rd July ...||Oxford won by an innings and 8 runs.|
|1855.||Played at Lord's, 21st June ...||Oxford won 3 wickets.|
|1856.||Played at Lord's, 16th June ...||Cambridge won by 3 wickets.|
|1857.||Played at Lord's, 25th June ...||Oxford won by 81 runs.|
|1858.||Played at Lord's, 21st June ...||Oxford won by an innings and 38 runs.|
|1859.||Played at Lord's, 23rd June ...||Cambridge won by 28 runs.|
|1860.||Played at Lord's, 25th June ...||Cambridge won by 3 wickets.|
|1861.||Played at Lord's, 17th June ...||Cambridge won by 133 runs.|
|1862.||Played at Lord's, 23rd June ...||Cambridge won by 8 wickets.|
|1863.||Played at Lord's, 22nd June ...||Oxford won by 8 wickets.|
|1864.||Played at Lord's, 13th June ...||Oxford won by 4 wickets.|
|1865.||Played at Lord's, 26th June ...||Oxford won by 114 runs.|
|1866.||Played at Lord's, 18th June ...||Oxford won by 12 runs.|
|1867.||Played at Lord's, 1st July ...||Cambridge won by 5 wickets.|
|1868.||Played at Lord's, 22nd June ...||Cambridge won by 168 runs.|
|1869.||Played at Lord's, 21st June ...||Cambridge won by 58 runs.|
|1870.||Played at Lord's, 27th June ...||Cambridge won by 2 runs.|
|1871.||Played at Lord's, 26th June ...||Oxford won by 8 wickets.|
|1872.||Played at Lord's, 24th June ...||Cambridge won by an innings and 166 runs.|
|1873.||Played at Lord's, 23rd June ...||Oxford won by 3 wickets.|
|1874.||Played at Lord's, 29th June ...||Oxford won by an innings and 92 runs.|
|1875.||Played at Lord's, 28th June ...||Oxford won by 6 runs.|
|1876.||Played at Lord's, 26th June...||Cambridge won by 9 wickets.|
|1877.||Played at Lord's, 25th June...||Oxford won by 10 wickets.|
|1878.||Played at Lord's, 1st July ...||Cambridge won by 238 runs.|
|1879.||Played at Lord's, 1st July ...||Cambridge won by 9 wickets.|
|1880.||Played at Lord's, 28th June...||Cambridge won by 115 runs.|
|1881.||Played at Lord's, 27th June...||Oxford won by 135 runs.|
|1882.||Played at Lord's, 26th June...||Cambridge won by 7 wickets.|
|1883.||Played at Lord's, 25th June...||Cambridge won by 7 wickets.|
|1884.||Played at Lord's, 30th June...||Oxford won by 7 wickets.|
|1885.||Played at Lord's, 29th June...||Cambridge won by 7 wickets.|
|1886.||Played at Lord's, 5th July ...||Oxford won by 133 runs.|
|1887.||Played at Lord's, 4th July ...||Oxford won by 7 wickets.|
|1888.||Played at Lord's, 28th June...||Drawn.|
|1889.||Played at Lord's, 1st July ...||Cambridge won by an innings and 105 runs.|
|1890.||Played at Lord's, 30th June ...||Cambridge won by 7 wickets.|
Matches played 56: Cambridge won 28, Oxford won 25, drawn 3.
The drawings of bats 1 to 6 are taken by permission from Echoes from Old Cricket Fields by Mr. F. Gale. The approximate dates are as follows:—
No. 1, 1743; No. 2, weighing 5lbs., 1771; No. 3, 1790—This is a double-handed bat and belonged to Robinson, a man with a crippled hand who wore an iron strapped to his wrist; No. 4, marked on the back 1792, and named "Little Joey", belonged to Ring of Dartford, an old hambledon man, to whose style of play is attribted the origin of the law l-b-w; No. 5, weighing about 2¾ lbs., 1800; No. 6, marked on back with brass brads 1827—belonged to John Bowyer, and weighed about 2¾ lbs.; Nos. 7 and 8 are in my possession, and are of present date: they weigh 2 lbs, 5½ ozs., and illustrate the plan of splicing, No. 7 in addition showing the whale-bone. Figures 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8, show the front and edge of bat, and figures 3, 4, and 7, front only.