March 17, 1804, Horningtoft, Norfolk
May 01, 1870, Canterbury, Kent, (aged 66y 45d)
Right hand bat
Right arm slow
Fuller Pilch, the greatest batsman ever known until the appearance of W. G. Grace, was born at Horningtoft, in Norfolk, on March 17, 1803. He migrated into the North at an early age, and learnt to handle bats and balls at Sheffield, returning to the South to play his first match at Lord's on July 24, 1820, when he played for his native county against Marylebone. Although scoring only 0 and 2 his style impressed William Ward, the eminent gentleman cricketer. Little
was it thought, at that time, that Pilch would become the `crack' batsman
and hold that enviable position for over 20 years. Pilch was the pioneer of forward play; he taught the world the art of placing the ball in front of the wicket with a stroke which has gone down to posterity as 'Pilch's Poke'. For four years he was engaged by the Bury St. Edmunds Club and from there he went to Norwich, where he became lessee of the Norwich Cricket Ground. At the age of 24, he was recognised as one of the best cricketers in England. In 1827, he made his first of 23 appearances in the Players v Gentlemen match at Lord's. For the next few seasons he enhanced his reputation and, in 1833, accepted the challenge put forward by Tom Marsden of Sheffield, to play any man in England at single wicket. The first match was played at Norwich, on July 18. Pilch won convincingly by an innings and 70 runs dismissing Marsden for 7 and 0 and scoring 77 himself. The return match was played at Sheffield on August 5, 6, and 7, and again Pilch was successful scoring 82 and 106 against Marsden's 26 and 35. Over 20,000 people attended. In 1835, he `transferred' to Town Mailing, in Kent, receiving in return a salary of £100 a year. He took over a tavern, with a cricket field attached, and during his stay many `grand matches' were played.
In 1842 Pilch moved on to Canterbury, and there he remained. He retired from the Kent Eleven in 1855, aged 52, after playing for them for 19 seasons. For 16 of these he never missed a match. Although his highest score for Kent was 98 he compiled 10 centuries during his career, considered a remarkable feat in those days of fast round-arm -bowling and ill-prepared pitches.
RJ Brown, The Cricketer
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