Cambridge, which for a long time had possessed at Fenner's an exceptionally good and convenient ground, and had later on built a very comfortable pavilion.
The idea of making cricket-grounds in the University Parks, in order to prevent the waste of time entailed by playing at Cowley, was in the air when I was an undergraduate, 1863-67, and was keenly supported by the Rev. Edwin Palmer, afterwards Professor of Latin and Archdeacon of Oxford, and by Mr R. A. H. Mitchell as captain of the University Eleven. But it failed to be realised, partly because its supporters wanted to bring all cricket whatever into the parks, where there was hardly room, and where the Dons did not like the prospect of a number of pavilions, and partly because some of the undergraduates, looking to the present rather than to the future, preferred to retain their cricket-grounds on the slow and distant marshes of Cowley. There can be no doubt, however, that, had all cricketers combined at that time, the University Parks would now have been the playground of the university, and what temporary inconveniences might have been incurred from want of space in the Parks would long ago have been remedied by annexing fields in the neighbourhood, many of which are now covered with buildings that do not concern the university.
Many years afterwards, the Vice-Chancellor, the Rev. Dr Evans, Master of Pembroke College, suggested to me that we should get up a petition to the university, signed by resident Masters of Arts, asking for a ground for the university, not for the college clubs; and the shrewd old gentleman added, with a twinkle in his eye, "Don't give any reasons, or you will not get so many names." Accordingly, we drew up the following memorial:—
"The undersigned members of Convocation, having been informed that the University Cricket Club has applied for a ground in the Parks, desire to support the application."
I then undertook the task of getting signatures, with the satisfactory result that 158 resident masters showed their devotion to the interests of the undergraduates by signing their names. This practically decided the matter. Yet we must not forget to record our debt of obligation, for carrying the proposal through, to two men now dead—Jowett, whom all the world knows, and especially Alfred Robinson of New College, than whom no more generous-hearted man ever breathed.
After the university had made the ground, it was finally let by Decree of Convocation on May 3, 1881, to the treasurer of the University Club, which thus has become lessee of the ground, hold-