Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/337

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315
EARLY HISTORY OF THE CLUB.

in Cambridge's first innings of 127 runs there were 45 byes, 9 wides, and 1 no-ball, or 55 extras—nearly half the runs. In 1839 there were 108 extras in the 449 runs scored in the match. In 1842 Oxford gave Cambridge 24 byes and 17 wides in the first innings of 139, and 20 byes and 14 wides in the second innings of 180 runs. The bowling must have been erratic, the wicket-keeping and long-stopping not first-rate; but as far as byes go, the ground was no doubt a main cause, for in old days, as long as the wicket was fairly good, the part behind the wicket was often neglected.

The most convincing proof that the Oxford and Cambridge was at first rather a friendly game than a serious contest is afforded by the indifference to the locality of the match. The first match, it is true, was at Lord's, but the second was at Oxford; and, while no match ever occurred at Cambridge, no less than five were played at Oxford, as follows: on the Magdalen ground in 1829, on the Bullingdon ground in 1843, on the Magdalen ground in 1846 and in 1848, on Cowley Marsh in 1850. Four of these were won by Oxford, yet we never hear of any complaint of Cambridge being at a disadvantage through playing on Oxford grounds. It is difficult from our point of view to realise what cricket at Oxford must once have been; perhaps pleasanter as a game, but certainly conducted at a disadvantage. Most lovers of cricket are aware that about a mile southwards from Magdalen Bridge along the Cowley Road, having passed between uninteresting rows of houses, we suddenly come on the right to the Magdalen ground, the original university cricket-ground, from the beginning of the Oxford and Cambridge matches down to 1881, when the O.U.C.C. moved to the University Park on the north. But the Magdalen ground has itself a history, or, rather, is part of a wider history of early cricket.

The Magdalen ground was the beginning of a very extensive open common, extending on both sides of the Cowley Road right away up the hill past Cowley and Bullingdon, and as far as Horspath at the foot of Shotover. It was partly grass and partly furze. The rights of feeding belonged to the parish of Cowley; but the parishioners encouraged university men to go,and play on the patches of the common, for the very good reason that they thus gave employment of a lucrative, if lazy, kind to a number of Cowley men and boys. Thus was gradually formed that singular type of humanity, well known to and well bemoaned by Oxford cricketers—I mean the Cowley groundman and professional.