Page:Cricket, by WG Grace.djvu/17

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9
HISTORICAL.

own against all comers until 1769. Meeting with many reverses that year, it was on the point of dissolution the year after: but in 1771 its supporters determined to make another effort; and against Surrey County, in September of that year, they were successful by the narrow majority of one run. The next ten years saw them add to their laurels. Out of fifty-one matches played against England during that time, they won twenty-nine. They have been immortalised in one of the earliest and most charming of all books published on the game—Nyren's Cricketers' Tutor, Nyren gives the names of the most eminent players when the club was at its best, and says of them: "No eleven in England had any chance with these men, and I think they might have beaten any two-and-twenty." The Eleven were:

David Harris,

John Wells,
— Purchase,
William Beldham,
John Small, jun.,
Harry Walker,

Tom Walker,

— Robinson,
Noah Mann,
— Scott,
— Taylor.

Beldham and Harris were the great men of the team—Beldham as a batsman, Harris as a bowler. Of Beldham, Nyren says: "We used to call him 'Silver Billy.' He was a close-set, active man, standing about five feet eight inches and a half. No one within my recollection could stop a ball better, or make more brilliant hits all over the ground; besides this, he was so remarkably safe. I hardly ever saw a man with a finer command of the bat, and he rapidly attained to the extraordinary accomplishment of being the finest player that has appeared within the latitude of more than half a century. One of the most beautiful sights that can be imagined, and which would have delighted