An early cricket tour of North America

One of the rarest of all cricket books, The Log of the Old Un from Liverpool to San Francisco 1886, was "Printed for Private Circulation" at Exeter in that same year

AR Littlewood
One of the rarest of all cricket books, The Log of the Old Un from Liverpool to San Francisco 1886, was "Printed for Private Circulation" at Exeter in that same year. It was reprinted in facsimile, with the addition of a preface by P. Wynne-Thomas, in 1994 in the valuable series of reprints by J. W. McKenzie of interesting but largely unobtainable cricket monographs. Due, however, to publishing delays copies have only recently become available.
Under the pseudonym of the "Old Un" lurks William Clulow Sim, who in retirement from the Indian Civil Service was the Honorary Secretary and chief benefactor of the Devonshire County Cricket Club. In 1886 he combined a visit to his son in California with one to Eastern North America in the capacity of scorer to the English Cricketing Eleven's tour that was arranged by his friend E.J. Sanders, a leading member of the Devonshire Club. Sanders chose County and University players, of whom the best known are K.J. Key and H.W. Bainbridge (later captains of Surrey and Warwickshire respectively). His captain was W.E. Roller of Surrey, the batting hero of Sanders' similar tour of the previous year. Nine games in all were played, two in Canada and seven in the U.S.A., of which the two in Philadelphia have been assigned first-class status. The team was victorious in all its matches except for a draw in Boston against a New England XV. The match in Toronto was won by eight wickets against an Ontario Cricket XI for which F. Harley scored 40 out of only 72 in the first innings and A.C. Allan and R.B. Ferrie (who also took three wickets) 45 and 38 respectively out of 111 in the second. At Montreal the England XII (including Sanders himself) easily beat XVI of Montreal C.C. by an innings and 117 runs after scoring 257. Sim gives scores for all the matches, but omits bowling analyses and, for four matches, details of the innings of the opposition. The 20 remaining pages of his "plain, unvarnished 'Iog'", as with so many descriptions of nineteenth-century tours to North America, do not decribe the actual cricket but revel in travel arrangements and the scenery. Sim actually left the tour after the second match (at Toronto) and expatiates on his journey to California and that state's prospects for future greatness. Inevitably he discusses the American love for baseball: "Cricket", he claims, "is more likely to take root and prosper in Canadian than in American soil. It is not fast enough for the go-ahead Yankee." He particularly notes the dangers to a baseball umpire: "If one meets a man in the street with his arm in a sling, one broken leg, and an eye out, it may safely be conjectured that this 'wreck of humanity' had been 'adjudicating' at some recent big base ball match, and had to run the gauntlet of some two or three thousand infuriated lookerson. .",
Wynne- Thomas writes a sober account (in contrast to Sim's pun-Iaden prose) of the history of earlier cricketing tours, briefly describes the one of 1886 (making the interesting point that many of the U.S. teams, but neither of the Canadian, were strengthened by visiting English professionals) and gives brief biographies of the members of the party, with a strange emphasis upon their deaths (but omits to say that Sir Kingsmill Key died of an insect bite and completely omits Hugh Rotherham, the Warwickshire all-rounder and well-known rugby football threequarter for Coventry who died in 1939). Some explanatory notes would have been useful. Many readers may not realize that the "Tristie" to whom Sim refers is the Somerset wicket-keeper F .T. Welman; and who is Handford (no initials given) who played for the English team at Boston ? Could this be the U.S. player Saunders Handford, brother of the Nottinghamshire professional Alick Handford, who was drafted into the team because of the injury or indisposition of Roller and Rotherham ?
Wynne- Thomas quotes the notoriously misguided prophecy from the New York Commercial Advertiser that "It is believed by some Americans that cricket will very soon supersede the game of baseball, especially as a gentleman's game. It is conducted in a quiet manner and without the usual howling that marks the game of baseball." But he concludes with the provocative observation that if cricket had forged ahead in popularity in the U.S.A. Sanders' two matches in Philadelphia may have been regarded to-day as Test Matches, since they were of a higher standard than those in 1888/89 between Major Warton's English team, captained by "Round-the- Corner" Smith, and the South Africans that were subsequently granted that status.
William Clulow Sim, The Log of the "Old Un" from Liverpool to San Francisco 1886 (with an introduction by Peter Wynne- Thomas, 16 + 30 pages) is available from J.W. McKenzie, 12 Stoneleigh Park Road, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey, KT19 OQT, England at £15.