Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/365

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343
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY CRICKET.

four colleges jointly, but at first for practice only. Hence two or three college matches were generally being played on "The Piece" every afternoon; and it may be added that even the University played its Rugby football there: "Association" was hardly known in those days. There also haunted "The Piece" a class, which has perhaps died out, of rather seedy-looking professionals, provided with bat, ball, and stumps—no net—ready and anxious to bowl to any passer-by for a casual shilling; and often was he who journeyed up to Fenner's for athletics invited to stop and "'Ave a few balls," if a specially bright and warm day accidentally appeared during the rigours of a Cambridge March.

Of the grounds belonging to the various colleges only a few words need be said. They are grouped at the rear of "The Backs," and a very pleasant afternoon may be spent in strolling from ground to ground, watching the play and chatting with one's friends. The Trinity and St John's grounds are good enough for any county match, with ample room, good wickets, and comfortable pavilions. Jesus has a pretty little ground, overlooked by one of the courts of the college, and hence the most convenient ground, from a Jesus man's point of view, in Cambridge. Of the other college grounds it need only be said that they are all well kept, that each has its own professional or professionals, and that two or more of the smaller colleges often combine to support a ground which would be too large or too expensive for them individually. At Fenner's—the name still sticks to the ground—are engaged some dozen professionals, many of them the pick of the bowling talent of England; and on a fine day the long row of nets is fully occupied, while the "fags" in the out-field have their hands full indeed. In regard to Cambridge cricket, it used to be considered that the excellence of Fenner's was really a disadvantage when the time came to meet Oxford at Lord's; for of Lord's it was said that "a man who can get runs at Lord's can get them anywhere." Certainly both "rib-roasters" and shooters were frequent at headquarters, and many a lion on the Cambridge lawn (we have to thank the Hon. R. H. Lyttelton for the phrase) has proved a veritable lamb when placed on a fiery Lord's wicket. Oxford were supposed to be more (less?) favoured, with a view to the great match, in having a wicket less like a billiard-table; but this may have only been a Cambridge canard. One thing is certain, that many men who scored freely and frequently at Cambridge failed to "come off" in the 'Varsity match. Now things are somewhat changed, and if a man fails to score at Lord's