The 1726 English cricket season is the first in which a newspaper report names a participant in a cricket match and it is from this time that a continuous history of English cricket in terms of major matches[fc 1][fc 2] is possible, although the details in most seasons through the 18th century remain sparse. Newspaper reports seemed to be widening in scope and the first players mentioned were Perry of London and Piper of Hampton who played a single wicket match. The main story of the year, as in some earlier seasons, concerns cricket's relationship with the law, though once again the issue was non-payment of gambling debts.
This was the conclusion of the 1724 match which was unfinished at that time and became the subject of a lawsuit. Lord Chief Justice Pratt ordered it "to be played out", but he died in 1725 before it was played out.
The match on 29 August is the only one in 1726 that could be considered an inter-county fixture and its result is unknown. Although Kent, based on the esteem of the Dartford club, is generally believed to have been the strongest county in the 1720s, any claims to "Champion County"[fc 3] in 1726 are inconclusive.
On the subject of legal matters, a letter has survived that was written by an Essex resident. The writer complained that a local Justice of the Peace (JP) had seen fit to literally "read the Riot Act" to some people who were playing cricket on Saturday, 10 September. He had a constable with him who dispersed the players.G. B. Buckley commented that it seems the JP considered any game or sport as a pretence covering the gathering of disaffected people in order to raise a rebellion. Given the ruling by Lord Chief Justice Pratt, who in effect ordered the Chingford v Stead's XI game to be played on Dartford Brent, the issue raised was that it was apparently lawful to play cricket in Kent but not in Essex.
^The term "major cricket" deserves some qualification. It is not limited to "first-class cricket" which is a misleading concept that is essentially statistical and may typically ignore the more important historical aspect of a match if statistical information is missing, as is invariably the case re matches played prior to 1772. From that season, scorecards began to be created habitually and there is a continuous and adequate, though incomplete, statistical record commencing in 1772. Major cricket in the Stuart and Hanoverian periods includes both single wicket and eleven-a-side games. Features of these matches include high stakes, large crowds and evidence that the teams are representative of several parishes, perhaps of whole counties. Except in rare instances, village cricket in the shape of a match played between two parish teams, would be classified as minor.
^Note that surviving match records to 1825 are incomplete and any statistical compilation of a player's career in that period is based on known data. Match scorecards were not always created, or have been lost, and the matches themselves were not always recorded in the press or other media. Scorecard data was not comprehensive: e.g., bowling analyses lacked balls bowled and runs conceded; bowlers were not credited with wickets when the batsman was caught or stumped; in many matches, the means of dismissal were omitted.
^An unofficial seasonal title proclaimed by media or historians prior to December 1889 when the official County Championship was constituted.