Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/407

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HAMPSHIRE — THE CRADLE OF CRICKET.

nection with Gloucestershire cricket. In 1895 the Master, who had toiled on in season and out of season for his county since the first county match in 1870, fairly electrified cricketing England. In the month of May he achieved the remarkable feat of scoring 1000 runs, and on the 17th of May, on the Ashley Down ground at Bristol, he completed his hundredth century in first-class cricket. Naturally such wonderful performances on the part of the Champion created a wave of enthusiasm, and a great international testimonial was given him. In June of the same year, at the Victoria Rooms, Clifton, the Gloucestershire County banquet to "W. G." was held. It was indeed a brilliant function. His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, K.G., presided, and the gathering called together men whom it is difficult to conceive any other festive occasion could have brought into rapprochement with each other. For details in connection with this article I have to express my thanks for assistance derived from Mr Alfred J. Gaston, Mr James Catton, Arrowsmith's 'Gloucestershire County Scores,' and Haygarth's 'M.C.C. Scores and Biographies.' The President of the Club is His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, K.G.; the Secretary, Mr E. M. Grace, Park House, Thornbury.


HAMPSHIRE—THE CRADLE OF CRICKET.


Charles Box, in his magnum opus 'The English Game of Cricket,' states that more than a century ago Hampshire was one of the most attractive spots for cricket in the kingdom, and it was the centre to which cricket talent gravitated long before the Marylebone Club existed. Hambledon was the cradle of the game, and it is difficult to trace when cricket was really first played in this happy valley. Mr Edward V. Lucas of the Academy paid a devout pilgrimage to the immortal site in 1896, and his graphic notes, which appeared in the 'Morning Post,' have been specially preserved for my book by Mr Gaston.

Hambledon lies in a trough among the Hampshire hills, in a valley within a valley, one side being Windmill Down and Broad Halfpenny Down the other. The modernising, sophisticating rail is above a league distant, and, save for weekly brake-loads of excursionists from Portsmouth, which is twelve miles to the south, the village sees few strangers year in year out. Approaching on foot from the east, you are upon Hambledon all unsuspectingly. Just when you had, perhaps, decided that the old place and its glorious traditions were, after all, but a figment of John Nyren's imagination, and that your