Hampshire Cricket History

Let Me Tell You A Story
April 30, 2016, 7:46 pm
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I received this interesting email from ‘Hedgehog’:

“I’m not sure how often Hampshire cricket is referenced in fiction but I am reading “The Fortune of War” a Napoleonic naval novel by Patrick O’Brian and I was delighted to encounter the following passage.

‘For although the Leopard might lack paint and even guns, as well as men, they were determined that she should come off creditably in the match with those sods of the Cumberland – they might even wipe the buggers’ eye! There were several Kent and Hampshire men among them, nurtured on the green; and Mr Babbington, their first lieutenant, had distinguished himself by notching forty-seven runs against the Marylebone club on Broad Halfpenny Down itself.’

(Hedgehog added)

Curiosity led me to search the MCC match records on CricketArchive but I was unable to find a match at Broadhalfpenny Down although they did play at Alresford a couple of times in the late 18th centrury (against Hampshire).”

He’s quite right too. Hambledon/Hampshire hardly played a significant match on Broadhalfpenny Down after 1781, some years before the MCC was formed. It’s poetic license. They made more use of Windmill Down, Stoke Down etc

As to Hampshire in fiction, in my recent Forever Changes, I pay quite a bit of attention to John Arlott’s short story known variously as “A Cup of Cold Tea” or “It Ain’t Half a Blooming/Bloody Game” in which the fictional ‘Norshire’ play Hampshire at Portsmouth in late season, probably 1956.

There’s also “Fly Envious Time” but more about that another time – plus many years ago, a TV drama featured Northlands Road but I’ve forgotten all the details.

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Naturally I have a copy of “Fly Envious Time”. But while on the subject do not forget “Le Cricket pour les Sportsmen Francais par R MacDonald Lucas (Membre du Hants County Cricket Club; Captain Owslebury C C 1910-12; Captain Cheltenham House C C , Bournemouth 1887-88). Forward by the Lord Mayor of London “I wish you every success in your efforts to poularise the splendid game of Cricket in France”. A fascinating book by a Hampshire member, but did not really aschieve its aim.

Comment by Stephen Saunders

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