Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/410

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cut with his stick—and a copse of fir-trees and larches. But you can see what a ground for a hit it must have been in the old days, when David Harris, after infinite care, pitched his wickets on its turf. The view invigorates: but woe to the fieldsman who puts the pageantry of hill and cloud before the zest of cricket. A ball hit with any power—cut, as Beldham used to cut them, with "the speed of thought"—would, once it passed him, travel to the roots of the surrounding mountains. It was the making of fieldsmen. "The ground," says Nyren, "gradually declined every way from the centre, and the fieldsmen, therefore, were compelled to look about them, and for this reason they became so renowned in that department of the game." Nyren was once in with Noah Mann, on Windmill Down, when "by one stroke from a toss that he hit behind him we got 10 runs." Standing here, you can believe it, and if you have any imagination you can see the old farmers looking on, and hear again the deep mouths of the multitude "baying away in pure Hampshire—'Go hard! go hard! Tich and turn! tich and turn!'" The Hambledon Club's ground was changed from Broad Halfpenny to Windmill Down somewhere in the seventeen-eighties. The cricketers brought their turf with them and laid it afresh. Early in our century the ground was once more changed, this time to its present site, and once more was the turf removed. The turf of the present ground, which you reach by descending Windmill Down and then climbing a mere mound which lies to the north of it, is therefore (allowing for repairs) the same turf on which Beldham batted and Harris bowled a hundred years ago.

Harris and Beldham! Cricket records hold no greater names than these—Harris, king of bowlers, and Beldham, king of bats. On this very turf, so thickly sown, so springy, so fragrant (think of it!) David Harris bowled—Harris, who in All-England matches was the first man picked; Harris, a bowler "who between any one and himself," Nyren somewhat vaguely but enthusiastically says, "comparison must fail." David came from Odiham, in Hants. He was "a muscular, bony man, standing about 5 feet 9½ inches. His features were not regularly handsome, but a remarkably kind and gentle expression amply compensated the defect of mere linear beauty. The fair qualities of his heart shone through his honest face." This description is characteristic of Nyren. No man was more eager and glad than he to discover virtue in his friends and to celebrate it. Harris "when preparing for his run previously to delivering the ball, would have made a beautiful study for the sculptor. Phidias would certainly have taken him for a model. First of all, he stood erect like a soldier at drill; then with a graceful curve of the arm he raised the ball to the forehead, and drawing back his right foot started off with his left. . . . His mode of delivering the ball was very singular. He would bring it from under the arm by a twist, and nearly as high as his armpit, and with this action push it, as it were, from him." Lord Frederick Beauclerk called David's bowling "one of the grandest sights in the universe." Like the Pantheon in Akenside's hymn, remarked the Rev. John Mitford, the friend of Lamb and a student of cricket, it was "simply and severely great."

Harris did not attain to his splendid heights without toil. "He was a potter by trade," said Beldham, " and in a kind of skittle-alley formed between hurdles he used to practise by bowling four different balls