1756 English cricket season
The 1756 English cricket season marks the beginning of cricket's "Hambledon Era". The Hambledon team, then probably run by a parish organisation rather than the famous club which is believed to have been formed in about 1765, made its first recorded appearances in three matches against Dartford.
The Seven Years' War began in 1756. It is possible this reduced the amount of 'big' games. It is also very likely that cricket’s first bowling revolution occurred in the next ten years or so as bowlers were certainly pitching the ball by 1770, but there are no surviving reports to describe the reception that pitching had when it was tried and implemented.
|date unknown||Dartford v Hambledon ||venue unknown||Dartford won|
|18 August (W)||Hambledon v Dartford ||Broadhalfpenny Down||Dartford won|
|30 August (M)||Dartford v Hambledon ||Artillery Ground||Dartford won|
These three Dartford v Hambledon games are the earliest known references to matches involving a Hambledon team. The one on Broadhalfpenny Down is known about because of a famous advert in the Reading Mercury concerning a dog called Rover whose owner lost him at the match. He was offering five shillings for Rover’s return but it is not known if the dog was recovered. It should be said that the advert does not conclusively prove that Hambledon was playing Dartford that day, but in the light of subsequent reports it seems a more than reasonable assumption.
Nothing is known of the first match except that the last of the three on Monday 30 August was billed as "the deciding match between the two elevens" and played for £50 a side. Furthermore, in the Public Advertiser announcement which H T Waghorn recorded re the game below on Mon 6 September, Dartford is said to have beat Hampshire (sic) 3 matches successively.
There is no definite knowledge of Hambledon cricket before 1756 but the team may have gained repute already to be capable of attempting three matches against Dartford, which had been a famous club since the 1720s if not earlier. It is not known for certain when the Hambledon Club was founded and it seems likely that some kind of parish organisation was operating in 1756, although there may well have been a patron involved. The ground is however some distance from the village.
|6 September (M)||London v Dartford ||Artillery Ground||result unknown|
|9 September (Th)||Dartford v London ||Dartford Brent||result unknown|
In the announcement for the game on Mon 6 September, it says "the second match will be played on Dartford Brim (sic) by the same gentlemen".
In Dawn of Cricket, H T Waghorn records a pre-announcement that a "fives" game involving a Hambledon side would be played on Sat 28 August at the Artillery Ground. The Hambledon players are unnamed but their opponents were a strong team: Tom Faulkner, Joe Harris, John Frame, John Bell and Durling. No details of the result were recorded. Stakes were £20 a side. This may have been a curtain raiser for the main event on Monday 30 August.
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