Dates in cricket history

In attempting to bring up to date this chronology of cricket which first appeared in the 1941 edition, I have not aimed at any detailed recension. The preoccupations of war no doubt prevented many of those who may then have glanced at it from pointing out to me inaccuracies and omissions, which I expect are still to be found in it, and the identification of which I would, of course, welcome.

By the kindness of Colonel Rait Kerr, whose book on the Laws of Cricket is the accepted locus classicus on the subject, I have been able to make a number of corrections in that section. I am also indebted to Mr. E. R. Wilson for several suggestions, especially in the section on dress.

As I wrote in 1941, I have for the most part omitted any data covered by the Cricket Records pages in Wisden and have concentrated on events that seemed to mark the evolution and extension of the game.

For the very early history of cricket I would refer readers especially to the scholarly and exhaustive monographs written by H. P-T (the late P. F. Thomas) and published by C. H. Richards of Nottingham between 1923 and 1928.

1300First probable reference to cricket: in the wardrobe accounts of King Edward I: locality Newenden, Kent.
1550(c.)Cricket played at The Free School at Guildford.
1595G. Florio's Italian-English Dictionary mentions cricket.
1647Probable reference to cricket being played by Winchester Scholars on St. Catherine's Hill, in a Latin Poem by Robert Matthew.
1654Seven parishioners of Eltham fined for playing cricket on Lord's Day.
1665(c.)John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, playing cricket at old St. Paul's School.
1676First reference to cricket outside England, played by the navy at Aleppo.
1697First reference to a definite match: Eleven a side in Sussex.Foreign Post, July 7.
1706First full description of a cricket match: in a Latin Poem written by William Goldwin of Eton, and King's, Cambridge.
1710First reference to cricket at the University: Cambridge.
1719First County Match: Kent v. London.
1727Articles of Agreement governing the conduct of matches between the teams of the second Duke of Richmond and Mr. Brodrick of Peperharow.
1729Date of earliest surviving bat: inscribed J. C. (John Chitty) 1729. This bat is in the Pavilion at The Oval.
1743Picture of a match by Francis Hayman, now at Lord's.
1744June 18. The first great match of which the full score is preserved: Kent v. All-England on the Artillery Ground, Finsbury, which has continued ever since to be the ground of the H.A.C. This match, which was won by Kent by one wicket, was described in full by James Love in his Cricket: a Heroic Poem published the same year.

The first known issue of the Laws of Cricket: these, undoubtedly a recension of a far earlier code, were drawn up by the London Club of which Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales and father of George III, was President.

First recorded charge for admission: 6d. to the Artillery Ground.
1750(c.)Foundation of the Hambledon Club: they played first on Broadhalfpenny and then on Windmill Down, often defeated All England, and lasted till 1796. Their great players, immortalised in Nyren (see 1833), evolved a new and much advanced technique.
1751Old Etonians play the Gentlemen of England. Cricket mentioned as far north as Durham and Yorkshire.
1760First reference to cricket at Oxford: Winchester beat Eton in Port Meadow.
1771 Sheffield play Nottingham.
1772Picture of boys playing cricket at Harrow School.
1774First recorded century: 136 by John Small, sen., for Hambledon v. Surrey.
1776Earliest known score-cards, printed by Pratt, scorer to the Vine Club, Sevenoaks.
1780Duke of Penshurst (established 1760) manufacture the first six-seamed ball and present it to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. Farington, in his diary of 1811, says that the Duke family had then been making cricket balls for 250 years.
1787First match, Middlesex v. Essex, on Thomas Lord's first ground, on the site of Dorset Square.

Formation of M.C.C. by members of the White Conduit Club.
1788June 27. M.C.C. play their first match at Lord's.

First revision of the Laws by M.C.C., dated May 30.
1791Publication of the first record of match scores by Samuel Britcher: these subsequently covered the chief matches till 1805.
1796A match between Eton and Westminster at Hounslow: first recorded school match, played in defiance of Dr. Heath, Headmaster of Eton, who flogged the whole eleven on their return; Eton lost by 66 runs.
1800Publication of first book on cricket technique, by Thomas Boxall.
1804?A match between Eton and Harrow.
1805Eton play Harrow at Lord's and win by an innings. Lord Byron, the poet, was in the Harrow XI.
1806First Gentlemen v. Players match at Lord's
1807First mention of the straight-armed (i.e. round-arm) bowling, by John Willes of Kent.
1809Lord's second ground opened at North Bank.
1810Lowest score ever recorded in a first-class match: 6 by The Bs v. England at Lord's.
1814Lord's third ground opened on present site: the original turf of the first ground was transplanted at each move.
1817First two separate centuries: 107 and 157 by William Lambert for Sussex v. Epsom at Lord's.
1820First recorded score of 200: 278 by William Ward for M.C.C. v. Norfolk at Lord's, a record for that ground for 105 years.
1821First century in Gentlemen v. Players: 113 not out by Thomas Beagley.
1822John Willes no-balled for throwing, i.e. round-arm bowling
1825First Harrow v. Winchester match. Winchester won.
1826First recorded century in a school match, 146 not out by W. Meyrick for Winchester v. Harrow.

First Eton v. Winchester match. Winchester won.
1827First University match; drawn. The captains were Charles Wordsworth, Oxford, and Herbert Jenner, Cambridge.

The three Experimental Matches between Sussex and England to try out the new (round-arm) bowling, now perfected by William Lillywhite and James Broadbridge of Sussex.
1828M.C.C. authorise the bowler to raise his hand level with the elbow.
1833John Nyren writes his Young Cricketer's Tutor and The Cricketers of my Time: this is the locus classicus for the early history and personalities of the game.
1835M.C.C. adopt a revised Code of the Laws on May 20.
1836First North v. South match: for many years recognised as the greatest match of the season.
1838Opening of the Trent Bridge Ground, Nottingham, by William Clarke.

Printing of scorecards for Gentlemen v. Players at Brighton.
1839Sussex County Cricket Club formed, the earliest County Club properly so constituted.
1841The Duke of Wellington issues an order that a cricket ground is to be made as an adjunct to every military barracks.
1842The Canterbury Week and The Old Stagers instituted.
1845Surrey County Cricket Club established, and first match on The Oval.

I. Zingari formed.
1846The All-England Eleven, organised by William Clarke, began its great missionary work of playing matches, against odds, all over the country. The eleven was subsequently managed by George Parr. An admirable lithograph of the team, from a drawing by the famous Kent batsman, N. Felix, was published in 1847.

Last match played for the single wicket championship: A. Mynn v. N. Felix.

Fenner's Ground, Cambridge, opened: leased by C.U.C.C. from 1873: freehold purchased 1892.
1848The Telegraph Score Board introduced at Lord's: and score-cards first sold there.

July 18, W. G. Grace born.
1849First Yorkshire v. Lancashire match.
1850J. Wisden bowls all ten batsmen in one innings, North v.South.
1851Oxford University C.C. rents The Magdalen Ground, Cowley, for a University Ground: they migrated to their present quarters in The Parks in 1881.
1852The United All-England Xl formed, in rivalry to the All-England XI. Secretaries: Wisden and Dean.
1854Last of the Public Schools Weeks (Eton, Harrow, Winchester) at Lord's.
1850-55(c.)About this time the mowing machine began to be used on cricket grounds.
1855W. Clarke takes 476 wickets in a season.

Bramall Lane Ground, Sheffield, opened.
1857The Cricketers Fund Friendly Society instituted.

For ten years the great match between the A.E.E. and the U.A.E.E. was played in its support. From 1884, until his death, Lord Harris was its president, and the society has done invaluable work for professional cricketers and their dependents.
1862In a match at The Oval, England v. Surrey, Edgar Willsher of Kent was no-balled by John Lillywhite for having his hand higher than his shoulder. Willsher left the field, and the game was suspended for the day. Next day another umpire replaced Lillywhite, who refused to reconsider his view. This led to the change in the law in 1864.

Publication of Vols. 1-4 of Scores and Biographies, compiled by Arthur Haygarth. This work, compiled with prodigious industry, recorded the full scores of all discoverable matches from 1744 onwards and is by far the richest mine of information on the game. The first four volumes were published by Frederick Lillywhite. Vols. 5-14 were published between 1876 and 1895 under the auspices of M.C.C. Vol. 15, consisting entirely of biographies, and compiled by Ashley Cooper, was published in 1925.
1863Yorkshire County Cricket Club formed.
1864Overhand bowling authorised: June 10. Middlesex C.C.C. formed: they first played on the Cattle Market ground, Islington, migrating later to Prince's ground, Chelsea, and finally to Lord's in 1877.

Lancashire C.C.C. formed.

W. G. Grace's first appearance in big cricket: two days before his sixteenth birthday he scores 170 and 56 not out for South Wales Club v. Gentlemen of Sussex.

First issue of Wisden's Cricketer's Almanack.
1865Practice nets first used at Lord's.
1867Culmination of long period of rivalry and ill-feeling between professionals of North and South, and of the two All-England XI's: these two great matches abandoned this year
1868Visit to England of a team of Australian aborigines, managed by Charles Lawrence.
1870The heavy roller first used at Lord's: the great general improvement of pitches begins with this innovation.
1871W. G. Grace's greatest year: the first batsman to reach 2,000 runs in a season (2,739): no other batsman achieved this until A. E. Stoddart and William Gunn did so in 1893. W.G. played in three benefit matches for three of the best-known old professionals and with much, for the beneficiaries, depending on his success, he scored 189 not out, 268, and 217.
1873The County Championship is generally reckoned to date from this year, as it was for this season that county qualification rules were first framed: first champions, Notts. But Lillywhite's Companion uses the term Champion County in 1869.
1874First recorded instance of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season, by W. G. Grace.
1876W. G. Grace established the following records:--

(1) First score of 300 in first-class cricket: 344 for M.C.C. v. Kent at Canterbury. His next two scores were 177 for Glos. v. Notts, and 318 not out for Glos. v. Yorks.

(2) He also scored 400 not out for All-England XI v. XXII of Grimsby.
1878Visit of first Australian team to England. D. W. Gregory captain. Australian cricket establishes its reputation by their sensational defeat in a single day and by nine wickets over a very strong M.C.C. XI.
1880First Test Match in England: England beats Australia by five wickets. W. G. Grace 152, W. L. Murdoch 153 not out.
1882First Australian victory in a Test Match in England, by seven runs at The Oval: a spectator dies from excitement. Tradition of The Ashes established by obituary notice to English cricket in the Sporting Times.
1884A completely revised Code of the Laws adopted by M.C.C. on April 21.
1884-5First series of five Test Matches in Australia. England wins three.
1888-9Present Lord's pavilion built.
1890The first Board of Control established in South Africa.
1892Instructions to umpires issued by M.C.C.
1895First 1,000 runs in May: W. G. Grace, at the age of 47, in 22 days. He also scored his 100th century.
1898Board of Control set up to administer Test Matches played in England.
1899First series of five Test Matches in England: Australia won the only finished game, at Lord's, by ten wickets.

For the first time a single Selection Committee picked the teams for all the Tests: hitherto they had been chosen by M.C.C. for matches at Lord's and for matches elsewhere by the County Committee of the ground concerned. First score of 300 by an Australian in England: 300 not out by Victor Trumper, then on his first tour, v. Sussex at Brighton.

Record individual score: 628 not out by A. E. J. Collins for Clark's v. North Town, a junior house match at Clifton College.

The Mound Stand built at Lord's.
1902Easter classes for boys instituted at Lord's.
1903Abortive agitation for wider wickets and Timeless Tests. First representative Public Schools' XI play M.C.C. at Lord's.
1905Australian Board of Control set up.
1909Imperial Cricket Conference constituted: M.C.C., Australia and South Africa the original members...
1911Warwickshire champions: first county to be so outside the big nine who had originated the championship.

The last instance of a genuine double blue in the University match: D. C. Collins played for Cambridge v. Oxford this year and next year rowed bow in the University Boat Race.
1912The first and the only Triangular Tournament in England. First Trial Matches for the Tests. First Test Match in England for which more than three days were allowed: the last match at the Oval, as the rubber depended on it, was to be played to a finish; it lasted four days and was won by England.
1926India, New Zealand and West Indies admitted to the Imperial Cricket Conference.

Sir Francis Lacey, Secretary M.C.C. 1898-1926, knighted.
1929Sir Francis Toone, Secretary Yorkshire, knighted.
1930Four-day Test Matches in England.
1932-3The body-line controversy during the M.C.C. tour in Australia
1935M.C.C. condemn body-line bowling and issue instructions to umpires against its future practice.
1937M.C.C. appoint a County Cricket Commission to examine and report on the state of county cricket.
1937Sir Pelham Warner knighted.
1938Test Matches at Lord's televised for the first time.
1941Centenary of Tom Brown's Match: M.C.C. v. Rugby School.
1943Flying bomb passes low over Lord's during Army v. R.A.F. match.
1944M.C.C. select Committee to report on the post-war resumption of first-class cricket.
1945Australian Services XI tour England: the Victory Tests.
1947Major revision of the Laws of Cricket.
1948First Five-day Test Matches in England.
1949Sir Donald Bradman knighted on his retirement as a player. Election of 26 professional cricketers to Honorary Life Membership of M.C.C.

M.C.C. initiate an Enquiry into the problem of how to help all boys in the country to get more and better cricket.
1952M.C.C. Youth Cricket Association established for the above purpose: many counties create Youth Cricket Councils and hold courses for training schoolmasters and youth leaders in the new technique of Group Coaching.

Pakistan admitted to Imperial Cricket Conference.
1953Sir Henry Leveson Gower, Vice-President of Surrey, knighted.


The Pitch

The 22 yards laid down in the laws of 1744 has never varied: it may well have originated from the width of the Saxon acre-strip or the mediaeval measure of the gad = 5½ yards. It is identical with the length of the agricultural chain.

The Popping Crease

The 46 inches between the creases, laid down in 1744, represent the old English unit of the cloth yard, 45 inches, plus 2 half-inches to the middle of each crease.

1819.The 46 inches between creases increased to 48 inches.

The Bowling Crease

1902.The length of the bowling crease, which since 1774 had been 3 feet on either side of the wicket, increased to 4 feet. Both creases were originally cut in the turf; whitewash was not used till the 1830's, at Lord's not till the early 'sixties.
Sweeping and Rolling
1788.Originally the pitch was left untouched during a match, but in 1788 by mutual consent the pitch could be rolled, watered, covered and mown during a match.
1793.Sawdust was authorised in the laws.
1849.The pitch could be swept and rolled before each innings at the request of either side.
1860.The rolling between the innings to be solely at the request of the side batting next.
1883.Rolling permitted for 10 minutes before the start of play on each day.
1913.Covering the bowler's footholds and the batsmen's standing ground authorised.
1931.Period of rolling reduced to 7 minutes.
The Wicket
c. 1700222 inches16 inches
c. 1775322 inches16 inches
1785322 inches2 or 16 inches
1798324 inches2 or 17 inches
c. 1819326 inches27 inches
c. 1823327 inches28 inches
1931328 inches29 inches
The bat

No dimensions specified in original laws, when the bat was curved and much longer in the handle.

1774.Width of bat limited to 4¼ inches.
1835.Length of bat limited to 38 inches.
1836.Dark's bats were sold by Sadd of Cambridge for 8s. 6d.
1853-4.Cane handles were patented by Nixon.
1880.Rubber handle-covers patented.

Early bats were very heavy: the bat with which William Ward made his record score of 278 in 1820 weighed 4 lb. 2 oz.

The ball

1744. Between 5 and 6 ounces.
1774.Between 5½ and 5¾ ounces.
1838.Circumference to be between 9 and 9¼ inches.
1927.Circumference to be between 8(13/16) and 9 inches.
Circa 1800.A player named Robinson experiments with boards strapped to his legs. He is laughed out of his invention.
Circa 1836.Pads invented by (?) H. Daubeny of Oxford.
Circa 1890-1912.Era of skeleton pads.
1827.Tubular gloves patented by Daniel Day: no doubt in reaction to the new round-arm bowling.
The Over
1744.4 balls.
1889.5 balls.
1900.6 balls.
1922.8 balls authorised for Australia.
1947.At the request of either captain the final over of a match must be completed, even though time has been reached.
c. 1809. Foot over crease, the only no-ball.
1816.First attempt to legislate against throwing: the hand to be below the elbow.
1835.The hand not to be above the shoulder.
1864.Revised to present form.
1884.The absolutely satisfied clause inserted in the no-ball law.
1899.Either umpire ... shall call no-ball.
1947.The back foot, at the moment of delivery, need not be grounded though it must be behind the bowling crease.
1889.First authorised, but only on the third day.
1900.Any time after lunch on the second day.
1910.At any time on the second day.
The Follow-on
1744.No mention.
1835.Compulsory after a deficit of a hundred.
1854-1894.After a deficit of 80 runs.
1894.Compulsory after a deficit of a hundred and twenty.
1900.Optional after a deficit of a hundred and fifty.
The Toss
1744.Toss confers choice of pitch and innings.
1774.Visiting side to have the choice of pitch and innings.
c. 1809.Umpires to select pitch, and toss to give choice of innings.
1744.No mention.
1774.If, with design, the striker prevents the ball hitting the wicket with his leg.
1788.Design clause omitted, and ball must pitch straight.
c. 1821.Ball need not pitch straight, but must be delivered straight.
1839.Reverts to 1788.
1901.Very strong move to alter law by omitting pitch straight clause, but two-thirds majority necessary for any alteration of laws not secured in M.C.C. meeting.
1937.Altered to present law, after a two seasons' trial.
1828.Wides to be scored as such, and a run debited.
1829.No-balls to be scored as such, and a run debited.
1836.The bowler to be credited by name with the wickets caught and stumped.
1840.Bowling analysis first kept in M.C.C. score-book.
1844.Wides to be run for.
1850.Leg-byes to be scored as such.

© John Wisden & Co