Robert Pearson Carpenter
November 18, 1830, Mill Road, Cambridge
July 14, 1901, Cambridge, (aged 70y 238d)
Right hand bat
Bob Carpenter was one of the best batsmen of his generation and for a decade was arguably the best in the country along with Tom Hayward. He only came to note when he was 28, but for the next few years he was considered the toughest man to dismiss. His involvement with Cambridgeshire helped gain them first-class status, and he was also a regular presence in the United England XI. In 1859 he took part in the first major overseas tour, when George Parr took and England XII to North America, and four years later he toured Australia, again with Parr. He stood in two Tests.
One by one the great professional cricketers of the last generation are passing away. Richard Daft, Thomas Hearne, and R. C. Tinley died in 1900, and on July 13th 1901, Robert Carpenter passed away. Though well advanced in years--he was born on Nov. 18, 1830--Carpenter was in fairly good health up to a few days before his death, As an active player, he was only a name to present-day cricketers, but no one who has any knowledge of the history of the game in the last forty-five years will need to be told that he was one of the really great batsmen of his time. He was very late in coming before the public, never appearing at Lord's until he was in his twenty-eighth year, but his first match--the United Eleven against the All England Eleven, in 1858--established his reputation, and he never looked back, remaining in the front rank till he was over forty. For several seasons he and the late Tom Hayward were by general consent the two best bats in England. It was difficult to say which was the better of the two, their methods being so dissimilar, but, though Hayward had an immense superiority in point of style, Carpenter was thought to be the harder man to get out. It is a curious fact that, though they were so closely associated on the cricket field, Carpenter belonged to the United Eleven and Hayward to George Parr's All England team. Thus, in the matches between the two elevens, which in the early sixties were the big events of the season, they always played on opposite sides. In conjunction with George Parr's, they made Cambridgeshire, for a few years, one of the great cricketing counties. Owing to the now half-forgotton schism between the northern and southern players which followed at the season of 1862, Hayward and Carpenter did not appear at the Oval for several years, and only played on rare occasions at Lord's, most of their time being given up to matches for the travelling elevens against local eighteens and twenty-two's. If one remembers rightly, however, their complete breach with Lord's only lasted for three or four summers. The quarrel was finally made up in 1870, and great interest was excited when, in company with George Parr, Hayward and Carpenter formally returned to Lord's. All three took part in the Whit-Monday match between North and South, Hayward and Carpenter having played a few weeks before for Righthand and Lefthanded. Carpenter was still at his best, and in the Whit-Monday match played a magnificent innings of 73 against the bowling of Southerton and Willsher, but Hayward--never a man of robust constitution--had sadly gone off, and retained little beyond his incomparable style. Geroge Parr, playing his last match at Lord's, made a good end, staying in a long time with Carpenter and scoring 41. He had appeared first on the ground twenty-five years before. As a final proof that all disagreements had been healed up, the Surrey and Cambridgeshire match was revived for one special occasion at the Oval in 1871, and Hayward and Carpenter, who in their younger days had done great things together on the Surrey ground, recalled pleasant memories by their fine play. Carpenter scored 26 and 87--both times not out--and Hayward, giving at least a suggestion of his former brilliancy, made 33 and 40. The two batsmen went to America with English eleven in the autumn of 1859, and in conjunction with E. M. Grace were the great stars of the splendid eleven that toured in Australia under George Parr's captaincy in the winter of 1863-4. At that time both were at the height of their fame. Carpenter was essentially a back player, and rarely went forward except when he meant hitting. No one in the old days of rough wickets at Lord's could come down on a shooter with greater certainty, and W. G. Grace himself scarcely possessed a stronger defence. Though specially noted for his skill on rough grounds, however, Carpenter keenly appreciated a good wicket when he found himself on one, and twice at the Oval he made over a hundred for Players against Gentlemen, scoring 119 in 1860, and 106 in 1861. He and Hayward were in the England team against Surrey, in the memorable match in 1862 in which Willsher was no-balled by John Lillywhite, and they contributed largely to England's total of 503, Carpenter making 94 and Hayward 117. The two cricketers were so closely connected that one never thinks of one without the other. Hayward died in July, 1876, after Carpenter had played in his last big match. Their names live on in the cricket of to-day, Carpenter's son being the present Essex batsman, and Hayward's nephew the great player in the Surrey eleven. Of Carpenter's professional contemporaries in his younger days there are not many left, but Caffyn, George Anderson, and George Atkinson are still surviving. Alfred Shaw, William Oscroft, Tom Emmett, and others often played with him, but they only began their career after he had reached his highest point. Carpenter represented the Players on eighteen occasions against the Gentlemen, making his début in the match in 1859 and appearing for the last time in 1873. He commenced twenty-eight innings, was not out once, and scored 723 runs with an average of 26.77. MR. E. M. Grace says of Carpenter as a batsman that there never was a finer back player.
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