Of late years each succeeding cricket week at Canterbury has topped its predecessor in interest and popularity. The re-appearance of Carpenter and Hayward in the match to be played by the two strongest batting elevens that could well be got together added to the interest felt among cricketers in the week of 1870, and the increased popularity of the gathering among the general public was attested by the facts that on the two great days of the week (Tuesday and Thursday), more admission money was taken than was ever before taken on those days at the gate in the old Dover Road. Barring a few light rainfalls on Monday, and the frequent and heavy showers on Wednesday, the weather was pleasantly fine; brilliantly so on Thursday, the Ladies" Day, when a bright, hot sun beamed on one of the most charmingly gay and animated cricketing scenes possible to witness. On that day some 7000 visitors and 300 well filled and fairly freighted vehicles (conveying the cream of Kentish society), passed the gates, and on no other cricket ground in England has been witnessed a sight that surpassed in beauty and interest, that seen about 4 p.m. of the 11th of last August on the ST. LAWRENCE GROUND at Canterbury.
THE GROUND, under the zealous management of Mr. W. de C. Baker, had been materially and manifestly improved since 1869. New gates had been erected at the old but enlarged and much improved entrance. The carriage drive up the ground had been widened, re-formed, rendered less steep, and otherwise improved. The previously uneven fielding ground down by the scorers' box had been levelled, returfed, and put into excellent order, and the ground all over had been so assiduously and carefully tended, that the thick, green crop of herbage that covered the whole of it afforded a welcome and refreshing sight to those who, for months previously, had been looking on the bare, brown, patchy grounds in London.
THE WICKETS had received special and unremitting attention; a wholesomely heavy roller had been unsparingly but judiciously used, and the result was wickets of such extraordinary truthfulness that in the great match wherein most of the celebrated head bowlers in the country bowled, so many as 974 runs were made from the 534 overs bowled, and of the 36 wickets down in that match, only 7 were bowled.
THE BOWLING, on such wickets and against the most scientific and brilliant lot of batsmen that were perhaps ever gathered together in one match, was all against the collar, and devoid of any of those brilliant coups that some of the same bowlers brought off on the same ground in 1869. Willsher bowled 4 of the 7 wickets bowled down, and at one time he bowled 9 successive maiden overs, having 2 wickets in those 9 overs. Nothing possibly could be finer than the bowling of J. C. Shaw and Wootton, when those two celebrated left-handers were pounding away at the wickets of Mr.Ottaway and Mr. Yardley. Willsher was also in good form in the M.C.C.
match, wherein Mr. Cobden had 12 wickets (7 bowled), and wherein at one time Mr. E. Rutter bowled 10 overs (8 maidens, all in succession) for 9 runs and 2 wickets; but beyond all doubt, throughout the week, the bat-and the wickets-beat the bowling.
THE FIELDING was, most of it, very fine, especially so in the great match. Carpenter's left hand catch at point that settled Jupp was a rare bit, and worthy the cricketer justly renowned as being the best point in England. Willsher's c and b that got rid of Oscroft, was another first class catch; and Wootton's running out of Mr. Ottaway, an equally excellent bit of fielding. Mr. Tennent (sub.) fielded actively and efficiently, so did Jupp, and so did John Smith; all three being eminently effective in that essential portion of out-fieldsmen's duties- Saving Runs. Pooley stumped 5 and caught out 2, so he was in form. Others fielded well, but all the excellent fielding items in the match-and they were many-were eclipsed by that catch in a thousand made by Mr. Thornton, who (at long-off) dashed in quite a score yards, and when running at full speed, reached forward, caught the ball very low down, and thus got rid of Carpenter for 3. This was indeed a brilliant and astonishingly successful bit of fielding, and Mr. Thornton must be credited with the greatest hit and finest catch made during THE WEEK.
THE HITTING was the prominent feature of the week's cricket. 1928 runs were scored, an excess this of 250 over the runs made in '69. Mr. Yardley's 109 was the largest contribution to the South score, his 68 a first class exhibition of scientific defence and brilliant hitting that included nine 4's, one a drive into the old hop plantation. Mr. Mitchell's 125 was the greatest number of runs made by one batsman in a match, his 88 being the highest innings made in the week's cricket. In at 53, Mr. Mitchell was out at 229; his 88 was a masterpiece of defence and hit. The Cambridge three- Carpenter, T. Hayward, and J. Smith-made 176 out of the 263 runs scored from the bat in the 2nd innings of the North. Smith and Hayward commenced that innings; when 46 was scored, Hayward had made 6 and Smith 34, and the latter rattled off his 59 runs in 70 minutes. Hayward's 42 was the result of 2 hours' careful and good cricket. Carpenter went in at 108 and out at 261, and as a scientific exhibit of the art of batting, both of defence and hit, it was the general opinion that Carpenter's 75 was the innings of the week; he was much applauded. Mr. I. D. Walker was 25 minutes at wickets for his 5; his 37 included eight 4's. Alfred Shaw's 40 was hit in 50 minutes, and included seven 4's. In Griffith's 22 there were four 4's; and Mr. Dale's 25 was made by a 2, a 3, and five 4's. (It should be understood that hits to the seated visitors all round counted 4, and were not run out.) But, for continuous big hitting and rapid scoring, Pooley's 78 on Wednesday evening topped all. It was one of those dashing onslaughts on the bowling for which the little Surrey wicket-keeper is so famed; he never hit in finer form than on that evening. He and Mr. Yardley hit the score from 92 to 127, when Mr. Yardley was out and Mr. Thornton went in; the hitting then became marvellous in its severity. It was 5 minutes to 6 when Mr. Thornton went in; in less than half an hour the score increased from 127 to 167; at 25 minutes to 7, 200 was up; at a quarter to 7, it was 225; and when, at 12 to 7, Pooley was cleverly run out, the score was 230, 103 runs having been made in 53 minutes, Pooleyhaving in one hour and 10 minutes made 78, including one 5 (4 for an overthrow), and fourteen 4's; his brilliant hitting evoked a succession of loud cheers such as are rarely heard off the Oval, and none recollect a Canterbury cricket audience so excited as that that cheered Pooley. Mr. Thornton had a good week with the bat; he scored innings of 48 runs, 41 not out, 0, 45, and 63 not out. His 48 against the North was a steadily and well played innings. In his 41 not out he was caught out from a no ball when he had made but one run, and in his two innings of that match he made sixteen 4's. In his 63 not out he made twelve 4's, sending one ball on the top of the beer booth, another bounding hard into the officers' tent, and another clear over the visitor's heads. In his 45 for Kent, Mr. Thornton not only made nine 4's (four by successive hits), but also made his famous big hit. The ball was bowled by Mr. Cobden from the pavilion end wicket, Mr. Thornton let go at it, caught the ball full, and drove it (on side) with such amazing force that it went skimming high-very high-over the officers' tent, and pitched near the centre of the adjoining field. One of the men engaged on the ground saw the ball pitch, marked the spot, and on its being measured (by chain) the next day, the distance from hit to pitch was found to be a few inches over 132 yards. Height as well as distance reckoned, this was indeed a wonderful hit. Mr. W. Grace was more than once during the week caught out from a skier, but he was in form in M.C.C.'s second innings, his 46 being a fine display of punishing leg-hitting; by one hit to leg (the finest leg-hit made in the week's cricket), the ball was sent bounding down the next field to near the entrance gate. In less than one hour Mr. W. Grace and Mr.I. D.Walker hit the M.C.C. score from 3 for one wicket to the required 84 to win. There was a quantity of hard hitting in the I Z match, the highest score therein being Mr. W. Penn's 80, a remarkable free hitting display that met its fair reward in the subsequent promotion of Mr. Penn to the ranks of the County Eleven. The following are the full scores of the three matches:-
The Northeners were all ready for play early on the Monday, but owing to missing the train, Jupp and Southerton had not arrived, and it was 12.45 ere the match and the week's cricket was commenced. On the Tuesday the North Eleven (and Jupp not out) were out in the field for action at 11.20, but consequent on a misunderstanding by Mr. Ottaway, the other not out of the preceding evening, as to the time set for resumption of play, he had not arrived, and it was 11.40 ere play began that day. On the Wednesday they commenced at 11.50, but when time was called at 10 minutes to 7, the match was unfinished, the South having 4 wickets to fall and 55 runs to score to win. The time lost on the two days being ample for one side to have obtained the wickets or the other to have made the runs, and thus have finished what in all probability would have been one of the closest contested, as it certainly was the best played, match of the season.