The 1744 cricket season in England is remembered for the earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket. This was drafted by members of several cricket clubs, though the code was not published until 1755. The season is also notable for the two earliest known surviving match scorecards. The second of those matches, played on Monday, 18 June, was a celebrated event in which a Kent county team challenged a team representing the rest of England at the Artillery Ground, Kent winning by one wicket. In September, Slindon Cricket Club defeated London Cricket Club and then issued a challenge to play "any parish in England". The challenge was accepted by the Addington and Bromley clubs, but there is no record of either challenge match having been completed.
The Laws of CricketEdit
The earliest known coded issue of the Laws of Cricket was drafted by members of several clubs including London, of which Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, was president. Representatives of the clubs met at the Star and Garter tavern on Pall Mall, London. The heading of the printed version, published in 1755, reads: "The Game at Cricket, As settled by the Several Cricket-Clubs, Particularly that of the Star and Garter in Pall-Mall". According to Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 1965, these Laws were undoubtedly a recension of a much earlier code. No earlier code has been found. However, there were cases of Articles of Agreement being drawn up, as for the matches in 1727 between Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, and Alan Brodrick, 2nd Viscount Midleton.
Some of the main points in the 1744 code:
- the toss of a coin determines who bats first;
- the length of the pitch must be 22 yards (20 metres);
- the bowling and popping creases must be cut with the popping crease exactly 3 feet ten inches before the bowling crease;
- the stumps must be 22 inches (560 mm) high with a six-inch (152 mm) bail;
- the ball must weigh between five and six ounces (141.75 and 170.10 grams);
- overs last four balls;
- the no ball is the penalty for overstepping, which means the hind foot going in front of the bowling crease (i.e., in direct line of the wicket);
- various means of "it is out" are specified – they include hitting the ball twice and obstructing the field;
- the wicket-keeper is required to be still and quiet until the ball is bowled;
- umpires must allow two minutes for a new batsman to arrive and ten minutes between innings;
- the umpire cannot give a batsman out if the fielders do not appeal;
- the umpire is allowed a certain amount of discretion and it is made clear that the umpire is the "sole judge" and that "his determination shall be absolute".
There are four Laws for bowlers but they do not say he must roll the ball and there is no mention of prescribed arm action, only that he must "deliver the ball" with one foot behind the bowling crease. Rowland Bowen, writing in the 1965 edition of Wisden, asserts that the ball was bowled in the true sense (all along the ground) through the first half of the 18th century and that this was the rule prior to the 1750s, though it was largely forsaken by the 1770s after bowlers began pitching the ball.
Earliest known scorecardsEdit
The season is also notable for the two earliest known surviving match scorecards. It is not until the 1772 season that more scorecards of top-class matches have survived, although a handful of cards from minor matches have been found. The first, containing individual scores but no details of dismissals, is from a match between the London Cricket Club and a combined Surrey and Sussex team at the Artillery Ground on 2 June. No titles were given to the teams at the time and various titles have been applied retrospectively by modern authors. London, whose team included "given men", was the host club and their opponents were all from the counties of Surrey or Sussex. The scorecard was kept by the 2nd Duke of Richmond at Goodwood House.
The card gives the scores by each player and their surnames only, although it does differentiate between the two pairs of brothers (the Harrises and Newlands) who were playing. The Daily Advertiser carried the names of players expected to play in the match on 1–2 June and reported the same names on 3 June although these are not the same names which appear on the scorecard. Surrey & Sussex scored 102 all out and 102 for 6 in their two innings. London scored 79 and 70 so that Surrey & Sussex won by 55 runs. This was the first known game at which tickets for readmission were issued to the spectators.
Just over a fortnight later, on 18 June, the scorecard from a match between a Kent XI and an England XI at the Artillery Ground has also survived. The match was arranged by Lord John Sackville who captained the Kent team. England totalled 40 and 70 in their two innings; Kent responded with 53 and 58 for 9 to win by one wicket. It is the first match for which a full scorecard including dismissals has survived and it became the first entry in Arthur Haygarth's Scores & Biographies, although he gave the year as 1746 instead of 1744. Spectators included the Prince of Wales and his brother, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. The match was described by the London Daily Advertiser as the "greatest cricket match ever known". The poet James Love (1722–1774) commemorated it in his Cricket: An Heroic Poem (1745), written in rhyming couplets. According to cricket historian H. S. Altham, it "should be in every cricket lover's library" and "his description of the game goes with a rare swing". The poem is one of the first substantial pieces of literature about cricket – in More Than A Game, former prime minister John Major says it is the earliest-known cricket poem. Love was himself a cricketer and a member of Richmond Cricket Club in Surrey.
There was crowd disorder at the 18 June match. The Daily Advertiser reported on Saturday, 30 June that it was "with difficulty the match was played out". A decision was taken to charge sixpence admission at future matches on the Artillery Ground. Also, the field would be surrounded by a ring of benches to hold over 800 people and no one without prior authorisation would be allowed within the ring.
The following eleven-a-side matches have been recorded:
|date||match||venue||result||notes and sources|
|10 May (Th)||Kent v England||unknown||Kent won||This match and its return on 17 May became the subject of a 1748 court case over unpaid gambling debts.|
|14 May (M)||Surrey v England||Moulsey Hurst||Surrey won by 4 runs|||
|17 May (Th)||Kent v England||unknown||Kent won|||
|21 May (M)||England v Surrey||Artillery Ground||unknown||Crowd disorder had been an issue and spectators were warned against encroaching onto the field of play and bringing dogs into the ground.|
|2 June (S)||London v Surrey & Sussex||Artillery Ground||Surrey & Sussex won by 55 runs||See above – Earliest known scorecards.|
|15 June (F)||Kent v England||Coxheath Common||unknown||The Kent team challenged "eleven pick'd from any part of England". The source says "the famous match below was the return".|
|18 June (M)||England v Kent||Artillery Ground||Kent won by 1 wicket||See above – Earliest known scorecards.|
|5 July (Th)||Two Elevens||Artillery Ground||unknown||Spectators had to pay sixpence – the earliest recorded admission charge.|
|6 & 7 July (F–S)||Two Elevens||1. Moulsey Hurst
2. Artillery Ground
|unknown||A return to the game on 5 July, it was unfinished at Moulsey Hurst on the 6th. Overnight, one side led by 31 runs with 2 second innings wickets standing. Play continued at the Artillery Ground on the 7th and admission was reduced to the "usual" twopence.|
|9 July (M)||London v Richmond||Kennington Common||unknown|||
|9 July (M)||Addington & Bromley v
Rest of Kent & Surrey
|Duppas Hill, Croydon||unknown||An item in the pre-match announcement was no person being allowed to bring liquor into the ground "that don't live in the Parish".|
|13 July (F)||Bromley v Addington||Bromley Common||unknown||The pre-match announcement stated that no person was allowed to sell liquor on the common "but who belong to the Parish".|
|21 July (S)||London v Woburn||Artillery Ground||unknown||Postponed from Thursday, 19 July because the Honourable Artillery Company required the ground.|
|30 July (M)||London v Addington||Artillery Ground||unknown||Twopence admission charged.|
|24 August (F)||Surrey v London||Moulsey Hurst||London won||Robert Colchin of Bromley and Val Romney of Sevenoaks were given men for London. Played for £50 a side.|
|27 August (M)||London v Surrey||Artillery Ground||London won||Robert Colchin of Bromley and Val Romney of Sevenoaks were again given men for London.|
|3 September (M)||London v Bromley||Artillery Ground||unknown|||
|7 September (F)||London v Surrey||Artillery Ground||unknown||Val Romney of Sevenoaks was a given man for London.|
|10 & 11 September
|London v Slindon||Artillery Ground||Slindon won||Having won this game, Slindon issued a challenge to play "any parish in England" and received immediate acceptances from the Addington and Bromley clubs.|
|12 & 13 September
|Slindon v Addington||Artillery Ground||unknown||Affected by bad weather on the 12th, Slindon led by two runs at close of play. No surviving reports of play on the 13th.|
|14 September (F)||Slindon v Bromley||Artillery Ground||unknown|||
|19 September (W)||Two Elevens||Artillery Ground||unknown||Described as "a great match between 22 of the best players from Kent, Surrey, Sussex and London".|
Single wicket matchesEdit
The single wicket form of cricket was popular and four top-class matches have been recorded:
- Wednesday, 13 June. A match in the Artillery Ground between two unnamed players "for a considerable sum of money, in order to determine finally who is the best player".
- Monday, 20 August. A match in the Artillery Ground "for a large sum" between a Sevenoaks player and a London player.
- Monday, 17 September. A game at the Artillery Ground between two "threes" who were described as the six best players in England. Billed as "Long Robin's Side v R. Newland's Side", the teams were Robert Colchin ("Long Robin"), Val Romney and John Bryant against Richard Newland, Edward Aburrow and Joseph Harris. Aburrow replaced John Mills, called the "famous Kent bowler", who was originally chosen. The stake was two hundred guineas.
- Monday, 1 October. A "threes" game at the Artillery Ground "for a considerable sum" – Robert Colchin, James Bryant and Joseph Harris versus John Bryant, Val Romney and Thomas Waymark.
Thanks to the two surviving scorecards, the names of several players from the period are known, although many of them are by surname only. Among those mentioned in the sources for the first time are:
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