Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/485

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463
CRICKET AND THE VICTORIAN ERA.

sprang up on the same lines. W. G. gives a most amusing list of some of their names.

Clubs founded and playing upon the local and the social peripatetic basis continue to thrive and strive all over England. There is nothing new about village, town, and wandering clubs except the ground arrangements and such incidental matters.

It is county cricket that is played upon lines so different from those of the early days. The change came about, I think, as follows:—

In 1846 the famous bowler William Clarke started the idea of exhibition cricket. To quote from W. G.'s book: —

The All-England Eleven was started by one man and conducted on business principles, and while it lived was exceedingly active, and helped to spread abroad a knowledge of the game. William Clarke was the founder: the majority of the players who composed it were the best professionals in England in every branch of the game, and under his leadership were open for engagements anywhere as long as they obtained their price. As the Eleven grew in strength and popularity, the desire to be considered worthy of a place in it became the aim of every young and rising cricketer, and on more than one occasion some of the most celebrated amateurs were to be found playing in its ranks for the honour alone. Of course the difficulty was to find any clubs to compete against. Usually the number of their opponents was twenty-two; but very often that was found inadequate to make a fight against so strong a combination of talent, and recourse was had to players outside of the club.

A good many of us can date our first experience of first-class play from witnessing the famous All-England Eleven, and hundreds will tell with glistening eyes of the good old times when they were considered worthy of a place against it.

Clarke seems to have argued thus: "I want to play cricket because I like it. It is my profession, and may fairly be made as lucrative as possible. Others in my position want the same as I do. The public is interested in good cricket, and will pay to see it." The All-England Eleven played all over the country, and was a great success from both a financial and a cricket point of view. Its matches had a twofold interest for people. There was the local interest in the local sides, and also the interest in the cricket exhibited by some of the most celebrated and skilful players in England.

In 1852 there was a split in the All-England Eleven, and certairi members of it seceding, instituted another exhibition club called the United England Eleven. This played on the same lines as its original. Both went on side by side for many years. Finally the United Eleven itself split up. Some of its members