Lymington Cricket Club's bicentenary celebrations continued with perhaps their most colourful event to date as they re-enacted the very first match played by the club. Players, umpires and spectators donned period costume for the contest which took place on Pennington Common - the location for Lymington's first ever match against Southampton way back in 1807. On that occasion Lymington were winners by 37 runs although, as the match report describes, exactly two centuries later the final result was somewhat closer.
The club was delighted to welcome the Mayor, Pauline Elsworth, who was invited to bowl the first ball of the day. But before the game could commence there were the traditional pre-match preliminaries to be undertaken - such as the respective captains selecting the area of the ground on which the match would be played, and then measuring the pitch by means of a Gunters Chain (kindly loaned for the day from Breamore Countryside Museum). Once the 22 yards had been established, the wickets pitched and the creases scraped into the turf (rather than painted on as today), the match could finally begin.
Once underway, the method of bowling was, as in 1807, underarm and given the uneven nature of the pitch, the state of the outfield and the size and weight of the replica ash bats, runscoring was predictably difficult for Lymington's modern-day batsmen. There were no boundaries in 1807, so all runs (or 'notches' as they were described back then) had literally to be run, although only once during the latest match did the batsmen run more than 4 runs when the ball became temporarily lost in long grass and 5 notches were scored.
Without the specialist studded footwear of today, running between the wickets proved to be quite hazardous, although even more of an obstacle was the blustery weather conditions which occasionally saw a fielder lose his top hat. Mercifully, the stitching on the players' rather tight breeches held firm, allaying fears of the type of exposure that Lymington Cricket Club could really do without!
One of the most important aspects of cricket two centuries ago was gambling on the result. Indeed, President Brian Hobby mentioned in his speech that such vast sums were once wagered on sport that one local landowner had even lost his entire estate as a result. There were murmurings that perhaps this particular match had been rigged; claims denied of course by the respective captains as they sipped champagne and planned their luxury holidays.
Following the match all the players involved agreed that it had been a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience to discover how cricket was played two centuries ago. All that was left was for the club President Brian Hobby to thank the town council for allowing the club to requisition the Common for the afternoon, and also to thank the various sponsors and volunteers who had made the game possible.
Lymington continue their bicentenary celebrations next month when David Gower will be the guest speaker at a special dinner at Shorefield on September 15th, and six days later they round off the year with an eagerly awaited match against Cross Arrows CC on the Nursery Ground at Lord's. A few tickets for the Shorefield dinner are still available from Mark Gannaway on 01590 676973.
On Sunday last a veritable crowd did gather upon Pennington Common to witness a match of cricket in joyous celebration of the historic milestone of two centuries of the Lymington Cricket Club.
Two formidable and worthy elevens were drawn up under the banners of Eleven Gentlemen of Lymington and Eleven of the New Forest. The latter, being the visitors, did not only have the right to choose where the wickets were to be pitched, but were also inclined to allow their hosts to take first use of a pitch not used for cricket in more than three score years and ten and freshened by earlier light precipitation.
But before the main contest was joined, the Mayor of the Borough kindly accepted the prestigious and important task of delivering the first ball of the day, and this she did with great accuracy and guile, before departing the field to polite applause.
Lymington's brave opening strikers Mr Gannaway and Mr Hunt the Younger displayed sound technique in trying conditions until Mr Gannaway perished to a wondrous catch from the stout Mr Douglas. Mr Tapper flayed 8 good notches before suffering from dalliance in mid-wicket and was pronounced run out by umpires Mr Iles and Mr Hunt Senior. Mr Scott, meanwhile, was the epitome of calmness as he caught out the unfortunate Mr Di Maria for just 2 notches. Sadly, Admiral Renshaw was all at sea from start to finish of his brief and fruitless foray to the crease. For the New Forest, Mr Raphael, the Antipodean, did deliver a merciless spell of bowling, and one which threatened to wreak havoc until Mr Lowe averted disaster with a most splendid 14 notches. Indeed, many of the fair maidens present were inclined to avert their eyes as Mr Lowe performed his miraculous acts with the bat, such was the tightness of his breeches. Mr Hunt the Elder and Signor Di Maria of Naples both registered 6 notches and Lord Walford of Milford 7 notches as the Gentlemen of Lymington recovered manfully from their earlier plight, and with Mr Moors and young Master Elliott showing resilience of the highest order, the good men of Lymington reached a worthy total of 72 notches for the loss of 9 wickets from their 24 overs.
Invigorated by a hearty tea with ale and wine, the bold sportsmen once more ventured onto the field of play. The New Foresters, with Major Coltman and Mr Trestrail (a veteran of the Marylebone Club) at the head, began in bullish fashion and 10 notches were added in good time. But it was the splendid batting technique of Mr Raphael which really caught the eye of the enthralled spectators. His 18 notches were amassed despite the considerable handicap of a ball and chain attached to the ankle, a consequence no doubt of some sordid felony which will shortly see him sent off to a life of hardship in Australia. Then, a tragedy of epic proportions as the elegant Mr Holt was cut down in his prime, run out for just 3 notches. Mr Jackson, Mr Wharton and Mr Naylor all barely troubled the redoubtable scorer Mr Cooper, but Mr Newton, however, did proceed to despatch the ball in gay abandon with 12 of the finest notches as the tally rose past the 60 mark. As the match neared its dramatic conclusion Mr Douglas kept his head (if not, on occasions, his hat and wig) and was able to guide his merry band to the very gates of victory before falling for 7 notches. This brought last man Mr Phillips to the wicket. He and Mr Scott, despite great pressure from the gathered fielders who did attempt to unsettle the strikers with innuendo and idle tittle-tattle, were able to level the scores with just one ball of the match remaining from Mr Tapper. That ball, in the words of Mr Tapper, did move in all manner of direction in the air and off the pitch, rendering it unhittable to poor Mr Phillips who could but watch in horror as young Master Elliott whipped off his bail for a stumping. A tie!
As the players trooped off the field of play to the sanctuary of the marquee they afforded each other three rousing hoorahs and tossed their hats skywards in celebration of a wonderful and historic afternoon's cricket.
The New Forest XI
The Lymington XI
Here will do
Mayor's first ball
Tiptoe thru the butter cups
The Italian Job
Lobbing it up
Wot no score board
Up and Away
The Elegant Mr Holt
Saluting the crowd
President and Friends
On the Pull
Keep your hat on
It's in here somewhere
Hats off to Italia
Gannaway and Hunt
Eye on the ball
Crowding the bat
Convict Sam departs
Wait for it
Mr Philips and Lady Wendy
Mr Naylor and Lady Jane
Mayor and President
A pair of Hunts
Teams and Tents