Bowled over

06th August 2019

Goodwood House was one of the first places where cricket was played regularly, arguably giving Sussex claim to be the birthplace of club cricket. Certainly, matches have been played in front of the house since 1702, and the oldest existing rules for the game were drawn up for a match between the 2nd Duke and a neighbour.

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The cricket season is now in full swing and at the Goodwood Cricket Ground, balls like the one gracing our cover will already have been sent arcing gracefully towards the boundary. Goodwood was one of the first places to regularly host cricket matches, and indeed the oldest existing rules of the game were drawn up for a 1727 match between the 2nd Duke of Richmond and Mr Alan Brodrick.

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Pictured above is a Stuart Surridge “Invincible”, almost a century old. Like most cricket bats, it consists of a cane handle spliced into a flat-fronted willow blade. Bats didn’t always look like this, however. Before the 18th century, they were often shaped like modern hockey sticks – a legacy, so one theory goes, of the game having originally been played using shepherds’ crooks. The bat, thought to be the oldest in existence, which is on display at The Oval, dates back to 1729, just two years after the aforementioned game between the 2nd Duke and Mr Brodrick – the first of the estate’s many noteworthy matches.

According to cricketing lore, a wicket originally consisted of two stumps and one bail and resembled a gate (hence the name, which derives from the word for a small door or gate). The middle stump and additional bail were only added following an extraordinary incident in 1775 when a player named Lumpy Stevens bowled three successive deliveries to an opposing batsman, John Small, which all passed between the two stumps without hitting them. Nowadays, according to Law 8 in The Laws of Cricket, a wicket should consist of three vertical poles, usually made of ash, each of which must be 28 inches tall, with two bails resting on top. Fittingly, when the umpires “call stumps” they are declaring that play is over for the day.

If you would like to learn more about Goodwood Cricket Club fixtures and results then please head on over to Goodwood CC or alternatively the Chichester site for further information.

This article was taken from the Summer 2019 edition of the Goodwood Magazine.

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