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|First-class debut||Middlesex XI v Epsom at Lord's, Aug 24-25, 1815 scorecard|
|Last First-class||Hampshire XI v Marylebone Cricket Club at Southampton, Aug 28-30, 1843 scorecard|
James Dark is a rather mysterious character. It is said he was employed as a ground-boy at Lord's from the age of ten, going on to become an occasional cricketers, a big-hitting batsman who had a poor defence and so who struggled on the universally bad pitches of the era. But he must have been successful, for in 1835 he purchased the remaining 58 years of the lease on Lord's from William Ward for £2000 and a £425 annuity. The ground was not as we know it now, but was undeveloped, with two ponds (filled with rubbish) on it, no seats for spectators and grazed on by sheep. In that year he made his one appearance for Gentlemen against Players, making 0. He lived near Lord's for the next 29 years, developing the venue and running a bat and ball manufacturing business. He opened a real tennis court in 1838, a telegraph scoreboard in 1846 and a printing office for scorecards in 1848. In his later years he umpired and also became the treasurer of the Cricketers' Friendly Fund Society. He sold the outstanding lease on his retirement in 1864, and when he died he left the not inconsiderable sum of £30,000 in his will.
A look at some of cricket's most memorable strokes - and their makers