Page:Cricket, by WG Grace.djvu/211

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203
FIRST-CLASS CRICKET.

Sussex, Kent, Middlesex, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire have been in existence for more than one hundred years; and all of them, at one time or another, were strong enough to play an Eleven of England. But county cricket pure and simple may be said to have reached its highest development in the last twenty years. Yorkshire was established in the early part of the present century, Lancashire in 1864, and Gloucestershire and Derbyshire in 1870. How those counties have fought against each other with varying success can be seen from the yearly results I have given. From 1870 to 1890 Nottinghamshire stands out preeminently amongst the first-class counties, having been at the head of the list seven times, while it will be seen Sussex has been at the bottom eight times.

I shall not trouble my readers by saying much about the future of the counties. Surrey and Nottinghamshire's prospects are as bright to-day as at any time in their history; but, then, the brightest prospects have often been shattered in cricket, and many a county that was expected to do well has done ill. It is never safe to prophesy when the unexpected happens so often. Counties in the South have greater difficulties to contend against in obtaining first-class bowlers than the counties in the North, but all of them are striving their utmost to meet the difficulty and keep their position in contests which are now looked upon as the most exciting of all: contests which have become the backbone of the game.