Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/412

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like the cut of a racket. His wrist seemed to turn on springs of the finest steel. He took the ball, as Burke did the House of Commons, between wind and water—not a moment too soon or late." When he could cut the balls "at the point of the bat," said Nyren, "he was in his glory; and upon my life their speed was as the speed of thought." No bowling came amiss to Silver Billy, fast or slow. Brown, of Brighton, who was a terrific under-hand bowler in those days, bragged that he would bowl Beldham "off his legs." "I suppose," said Billy, "you will let me have this little bit of stick in my hand?" pointing to his bat. "He went in," says Mr Mitford, "and fetched above 70 against him." In after-years, when the old man was in his decline, Mr Mitford made a pilgrimage to Beldham's cottage, near Farnham, to see this little bit of stick. "In his kitchen," he wrote, "black with age, . . . hangs the trophy of his victories, the delight of his youth, the exercise of his manhood, and the glory of his age—his BAT. Reader, beheve me when I tell you, I trembled when I touched it,—it seemed an act of profaneness, of violation. I pressed it to my lips, and returned it to its sanctuary." Mr Pycroft visited Beldham at Farnham in 1838, and afterwards incorporated much of the old man's conversation in 'The Cricket-Field.' Silver Billy died twenty-five years later, aged ninety-eight.

In 1788 I find from 'Scores and Biographies' that Hampshire played Surrey at Moulsey Hurst, Surrey being the winners by 9 wickets, while in 1789 Hants played and beat Kent at Bishopsbourne by 29 runs, and in less than a month after defeated England by 44 runs. Earlier in the year, however, on Windmill Downs, Kent defeated Hants by 56 runs. At the commencement of the present century, however, Hampshire cricket was on the wane; but in 1823 Hampshire beat England at Bramshill Park (Sir John Cope's seat) by 5 wickets, while two years later matches were arranged with Sussex, the first fixture at Petworth Park; the home side was victorious by 177 runs, while in the return Hants won by 72 runs.

Like Sussex, cricket in Hants was kept alive by prominent gentlemen in the county; but in the year 1842 Daniel Day, the old Surrey professional, migrated to Southampton, and, mainly through the patronage of Mr Thomas Chamberlayne, Sir Frederick Bathurst, Sir J. B. Mill, and others, he opened the Antelope Inn and ground. Cricket, however, did not prosper, and matches were few and far between. In 1863, however, during the progress of the match Fourteen of Hants v. Surrey, played on the Antelope ground in September, a large county meeting was held at the Antelope Hotel. Mr Thomas Chamberlayne of Cranbury Park took the chair, and Mr G. M. Ede was unanimously elected the first honorary secretary. In 1869 Mr Ede resigned, and was succeeded by Captain Eccles. Still