Saturday, January 26, 2008

1800's first-class cricket in England: classification of matches

This is Part 2 of my series on first-class cricket in England in the 1800's.

1 - data
2 - classification of matches
3 - filling in the gaps
4 - bowlers
5 - batsmen
6 - bowlers across eras
7 - batsmen across eras
8 - all-rounders (across eras)
9 - wicket-keepers

I think that if the match isn't played between two sides of eleven, then it is not first-class. Unfortunately (for people who share this opinion of mine), this principle was not obeyed when drawing up the list of first-class matches that we have today. There were 149 matches played in the 1800's, classified as first-class at CricketArchive, in which one or both teams had more than eleven men.

While some people might want a little flexibility on the size of the teams (at least for the early days), surely no-one can seriously suggest that a match between a Gentlemen XVIII and a Players XI should be classified as first-class, no matter how amusingly long the Gentlemen's batting card looks.

Also on the first-class record are two Gentlemen XVII v Players XI matches (1, 2), seven matches of XVI v XI, three of XV v XI, eighteen of XIV v XI, eight of XIII v XI, three of XII v XI, and 107 twelve-a-side matches.

There are also seven matches (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) classified as first-class in which one team played with eleven men and one team with less. Of these, three were odds games (one by Players against Gentlemen; two by the Australians in their 1880 tour), two were caused by player injuries, and two are unexplained by the CricketArchive scorecards. The most amusing of these is the last one, Hampshire v Somerset in 1885. The CricketArchive page simply says, "Somerset only brought nine men ...". One of the Somerset players in that match was EW Bastard. It is perhaps fortunate that India did not tour England during his brief first-class career.

Since I don't believe that these any of these matches should count as first-class, I will ignore them for my statistics.

Note that while first-class matches should be XI v XI, full substitutes are permitted. These have always been pretty rare, but are still seen in modern times — a full substitute is permitted when a player gets called up to or released from England duty during a county game. The most recent example in Australia that I know of is Brad Williams, who was replaced by Ben Edmondson during a match in 2003/4.

I do not, however, think that, in the absence of a particular player, another can bat twice. This is what happened in Hampshire v Nottingham in 1843. One of the Notts players was injured, and so Francis Noyes was allowed to bat twice in each innings. I will ignore this match for my records as well.

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Reminds me of my childhood.

Invariably, one team was short of players.The numbers were evened out by letting one or more (excess) players play from the opponent. I also recollect instances when we drafted couple of bystanders.

However, we never exceeded 11 players.
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