Sport, ancient and modern: Cricket, Middlesex County

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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, 'Sport, ancient and modern: Cricket, Middlesex County', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton, (London, 1911) pp. 270-273. British History Online [accessed 20 May 2024].

. "Sport, ancient and modern: Cricket, Middlesex County", in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton, (London, 1911) 270-273. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024,

. "Sport, ancient and modern: Cricket, Middlesex County", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton, (London, 1911). 270-273. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024,

In this section



The history of county cricket in Middlesex begins in 1863, when it was started at a meeting over which the Hon. Robert Grimston presided, and at which Messrs. J. and V. E. Walker were present. It may be briefly stated that for many years the county club only existed through the munificence of the Walker family, who must be inseparably connected with its history. For a long time the county team suffered from lack of an abiding place. A start was made in Islington in 1863, with R. Thoms as umpire and George Hearne as ground-man, but in 1865 Norris the landlord raised the rent by £50, and in 1869, after further trouble with him, a move was made to Lillie Bridge. There the turf proved bad, and the club was on the verge of dissolution, continuance being carried by one vote at a meeting of thirteen mem bers. Matters somewhat improved in 1871, but no good professionals were engaged. In 1872 another migration was made, this time to Prince's. When the builder invaded that pretty ground, the hospitality of Lord's was accepted, despite the opposition of Mr. I. D. Walker, Mr. P. M. Thornton observing in words that sound strange having regard to modern developments: 'it has yet to be proved that genuine county cricket will attract at Lord's.'

In 1864 Middlesex played their first match against Bucks at Newport Pagnell. The result was a draw. Pooley appeared for Middlesex, and Captain Frederick made the top score. The lobs of Mr. V. E. Walker, dismissing nine for 62 and five for 41, gave the county a victory by an innings over Sussex. The earliest centuries were against M.C.C. with Grundy and Wootton bowling, Tom Hearne scoring 125 and Mr. T. Case 116 towards a total of 411. In the return with Bucks, Middlesex, after being 218 behind, scored 463, and won by 138 runs.

Against Lancashire, with a tie on first innings in 1865, Mr. V. E. Walker claimed all ten wickets in an innings for 104, a feat not again performed for Middlesex until Burton's similar achievement in 1888 against Surrey. The season of 1866 was successful, for Middlesex beat Surrey (scoring over 400 each time), and Lancashire twice, drawing and beating Notts, losing and winning to Cambridge University. In 1867 Middlesex played England, but lost by an innings and 25 runs, Mr. A. Lubbock obtaining 125 and Dr. W. G. Grace 75. There was a tie with Surrey in 1868, for Caesar's benefit.

After this for several years the programme was very restricted. Howitt in 1869 had the excellent analysis of six wickets for 4 runs at the Oval, and T. Hearne six for 12 in the return with Surrey. At Lord's against M.C.C. in 1871, Mr. W. H. Hadow scored 217. In 1874, bowling against Notts, he claimed four for 9 and eight for 35, while in consecutive matches with Notts and Yorkshire in 1875 he captured twenty-three for 227. A sub-committee was that year formed to choose teams-'very difficult owing to the great batting strength.' Among the batsmen may be cited besides the Walkers, Messrs. J. W. Dale, C. E. Green, A. W. T. Daniel, C. F. Buller, C. J. Ottaway, W. H. Hadow, J. J. Sewell, C. I. Thornton, T. Case, and B. B. Cooper. The attack at that period could only be varied between the three Walkers, Messrs. E. Rutter, R. Henderson, C. J. Brune, C. K. Francis, and A. H. Stratford. Middlesex has constantly found its side vary enormously owing to the lack of professionals. As a matter of fact Burton, West, and Mignon were the only bowlers born in the county, T. and J. T. Hearne coming from Bucks, Howitt and Clarke from Notts, Rawlin from Yorkshire, Trott, Phillips, Roche, and Tarrant from Australia. Among others the following amateurs played by qualification: the Hon. Edward and Alfred Lyttelton (born in Worcestershire), Lord George Scott, G. Macgregor and J. G. Walker (Scotland), R. N. and J. Douglas, C. M. Wells and H. B. Chinnery (Surrey), M. E. Pavri (India), Dr. G. Thornton (Yorkshire), C. E. Cobb, C. Robson, F. T. Welman, A. H. Heath, G. W. Hillyard, S. C. Newton, T. S. Pearson, H. Ross, G. Strachan, P. F. Warner, and A. P. Lucas.

In 1876 when Surrey had lost seven men with 100 still needed, Barratt hit splendidly, but when tie was called and the last man in he was easily caught. Mr. I. D. Walker hit Ulyett to square leg out of the Bramall Lane ground in Sheffield. In 1878 the Hon. Edward Lyttelton's 113 for Middlesex was the first century scored against the Australians, and some judges declare this innings was never surpassed except by Mr. G. L. Jessop at the Oval in the last test match of 1902. He was the best bat of the year. Middlesex, it may be mentioned, has on occasion been assisted by notably fine wicket-keepers, to wit, Messrs. Bisset Halliwell, M. Turner (who dismissed nine opponents at Nottingham in 1875), the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton, H. Philipson, F. T. Welman, G. Macgregor, the finest amateur in this department, W. P. Robertson, E. H. Bray, W. S. Bird, and M. W. Payne. The following Middlesex cricketers have appeared in test matches in England: the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton, Sir T. C. O'Brien, Mr. C. T. Studd, Mr. B. J. T. Bosanquet, Mr. P. F. Warner, and J. T. Hearne. The following have gone on tour to Australia in addition to these six: Messrs. A. P. Lucas, A. J. Webbe, C. F. H. Leslie, G. B. Studd, G. F. Vernon, A. E. Stoddart, H. Philipson, and Rawlin.

The bowling of Mr. A. F. J. Ford, who captured thirty-eight for 417, was a pleasing feature of 1879, when in a wet season 476 runs were amassed at Clifton. Mr. C. T. Studd had a capital analysis at the Oval in 1880, four for 6 and three for 24, while Mr. A. F. J. Ford captured six for 42 and seven for 40. During and after 1881 Burton played regularly. He was a steady slow bowler who did an enormous amount of work, being mainly supported by the erratic but effective fast deliveries of Mr. J. Robertson. Among the features of 1882 was a grand 141 by Mr. C. F. H. Leslie at Nottingham, well supported by Mr. I. D. Walker with 79. The latter batsman, with Mr. A. J. Webbe, put up 130 for first wicket after Surrey had been dismissed for 117. Against Gloucestershire Mr. A. F. J. Ford effected seven catches at short slip. A year later at Clifton Mr. I. D. Walker and the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton added 324 for the second wicket, the latter having the remarkable average of 68. Sir T. C. O'Brien's courageous batting formed the one noteworthy feature of 1884, and in the seven matches in which the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton could not play, the wicket-keeping was put 'in commission.' Disasters in 1885 followed the retirement of Messrs. I. D. Walker, C. T. Studd, and P. J. T. Henery, whilst Messrs. T. S. Pearson, G. E. Vernon, G. B. Studd, A. W. Ridley, and the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton were only seldom available. However, Mr. A. E. Stoddart was at last enlisted from the Hampstead Club, and Mr. S. W. Scott played a notable 135 not out against Gloucestershire. Mr. J. G. Walker in 1886 lent valuable aid, but it was not until 1887 that revival could be noted. Mr. A. J. Webbe showed most remarkable form, averaging 51 for 820 aggregate, playing a great innings of 243 not out in the match against Yorkshire just after his 192 not out against Kent in the Canterbury week. Wet wickets checked the scoring in 1888, Sir T. C. O'Brien, who averaged 53, alone rising superior to the difficulties. Burton had the remarkable analysis of 12.50 for ninety-two wickets, taking all ten for 59 in the first innings of Surrey at the Oval, and three for 19 in the unfinished second effort.

Sir T. C. O'Brien's scoring against Yorkshire in 1889 will never be forgotten. In the first innings 112 were added in less than an hour, Sir Timothy making 92 with Mr. G. F. Vernon, who scored 86. Set to get 280 in three hours and a half Sir T. C. O'Brien, hitting fearlessly, obtained 100 not out, and he and the same colleague made the runs with ten minutes to spare, 151 being added in ninety minutes. Mr. E. A. Nepean showed admirable form with both bat and ball, and Mr. Stoddart played fine cricket. After brilliant victories over Notts, Lancashire, and Gloucester, persistent mediocrity beset the Middlesex cricket of 1890, but an immense advance was to be noticed in 1891 when third place in the championship list was obtained, This great improvement was mainly due to that great and willing bowler J. T. Hearne, whose patience and good length were always remarkable. At Old Trafford he claimed ten Lancashire wickets for 83. Rawlin also played great cricket. In batting Sir T. C. O'Brien continued to show consistent prowess, while Mr. A. E. Stoddart played a magnificent innings of 215 against Lancashire.

The advent of the great wicket-keeper Mr. Gregor Macgregor was a source of material strength in 1892, in which year J. T. Hearne for the second time took 100 wickets in county matches, the only Middlesex bowler who had yet done so. Mr. S. W. Scott displayed an enormous advance in batting, his 244 against Gloucestershire at Lord's being remarkable for an amateur aged 39. Mr. A. E. Stoddart again occupied second place in the averages. In 1893 the county again rose to third position, owing mainly to the fine form of Mr. Stoddart, who scored 1,178 in twenty-five innings, and had the highest county average of the year. In the Notts match at Lord's he took a double century, 195 not out and 124. With Sir T. C. O'Brien he put on 228 in two hours and a half for the first wicket against Surrey. Mr. F. G. J. Ford hit finely, but Hearne and Rawlin found no support with the ball. A similar position was obtained in 1894; but the cricket, apart from the work of the two bowlers, was not up to the standard of the previous summer. This observation equally applies to 1895, although Sir T. C. O'Brien made 202 at Brighton, adding 338 in three hours and a quarter with Mr. R. S. Lucas, who scored 185. Mr. C. M. Wells in August offered some bowling relief, and Mr. J. Douglas strengthened the batting at the same period.

Far better was the form in 1896, when Sir T. C. O'Brien and Mr. A. E. Stoddart time after time played cricket as valuable as it was brilliant, while J. T. Hearne bowled like a hero. His taking of twelve Surrey wickets for 90 was a capital performance. In 1897 the form was less certain, though Mr. F. G. J. Ford gave some extraordinary displays, and Mr. Stoddart, as well as Mr. J. Douglas, when available, was well worth watching. Mr. P. F. Warner, who had long been trying for a place on the side, at last won it, and became at Lord's a singularly useful and enthusiastic bat.

Middlesex had only obtained two successes up to the close of July in 1898, but of the eight matches played in August seven were won and one was drawn, with the result that the county finished a good second to Yorkshire. Hearne, now assisted by Albert Trott, bowled brilliantly, and the Colonial exceeded expectation. Mr. Stoddart averaged 52, his biggest score being 157 on the Aylestone ground. Mr. F. G. J. Ford, in August, obtained no less than 603 runs, while magnificent assistance with the bat and in the field that month came from the brothers Douglas and Mr. C. M. Wells. So well was the standard maintained next summer that the Middlesex side almost won the championship, eleven victories being set against three defeats. Mr. Stoddart and Sir T. C. O'Brien both dropped out, but in August the usual triumvirate of schoolmasters reappeared and Mr. C. M. Wells averaged 81, his great score being 244 against Notts. Mr. Warner batted better than ever before, and Trott not only took 146 wickets for 15, but scored 164 against Yorkshire. It was the victory by an innings and two runs over that team which formed the proudest achievement of Middlesex. Mr. F. G. J. Ford played three great centuries, and Mr. Macgregor as a bat, as wicketkeeper, and as captain was a complete success.

There was a big drop in 1901, though Mr. Stoddart came back for Hearne's benefit and scored a masterly 221 against Somerset. Mr. Bosanquet's play for his double hundred against Leicestershire was electrifying, but Mr. Warner bore the brunt of the batting and Trott of the bowling. Although Middlesex finished second in 1901 there was little brilliancy in the display apart from the fine scoring of Mr. P. F. Warner, though Mr. Bosanquet established himself as Mr. F. G. J. Ford's successor. Disasters came so fast in 1902 that eleventh place only was obtained. Apart from an innings of 180 by Mr. J. Douglas at Leyton, and a creditable victory over Notts, in which Mr. Bosanquet gave his earliest swerve demonstration, there was little to praise.

All-round efficiency accounted for the unexpected fact that Middlesex actually took champion honours in 1903, the only reverse being a tremendous defeat by a margin of 230 at the hands of Yorkshire at Leeds. Messrs. Warner, Beldam, Bosanquet, Moon, and the Douglases formed a formidable batting nucleus. The bowling on paper did not look remarkable, but it was effective. On 14 September the county played a favourable draw with the Rest of England, represented by Lord Hawke and K. S. Ranjitsinhji, with Hayward, Hayes, Tyldesley, Arnold, Hirst, Braund, John Gunn, Rhodes, and Strudwick. In August 1904 the Middlesex side was as good as ever, but previously with unrepresentative elevens they gave only a poor exhibition. The bright feature was the work of Mr. B. J. T. Bosanquet. Against Kent, after making 80, he captured five for 23, and in the Yorkshire match he took ten for 248, making 141, with Mr. R. E. More adding 128 inside fifty minutes. In each match with Somerset, Mr. G. W. Beldam played a sound century, while Mr. Warner contributed 163 at Nottingham and 106 at the Oval. J. T. Hearne bowled quite in his old style. A lamentable decline was shown in 1905, and blunders in the field prevented the victories of the county from amounting to more than four as against seven defeats. Very occasional success by Mr. Bosanquet alone assisted J. T. Hearne in the attack, while that steady batsman Tarrant enjoyed moderate success. Mr. Bosanquet achieved a double century against Sussex, following it up with eight for 53, but the general form was lifeless. The pertinacious imperturbable skill of Tarrant in every department was the mainstay of the county in the next few years, and in 1907 he proved the best all-round professional in England. Mr. Macgregor kept wicket as finely as ever until he resigned the captaincy to Mr. P. F. Warner.