Gentlemen v Players

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The Gentlemen v Players game was a first-class cricket match, generally played annually, between a team of amateurs (the Gentlemen) and one of professionals (the Players). The first two games took place in 1806, but the fixture was not revived until 1819. It was more or less annual thereafter until 1962 and there were usually two or more games each season. After 1962, the concept of amateurism was abolished and so all first-class players became, in theory at least, professional[citation needed].

History[edit]

Gentlemen, captained by WG Grace, vs Players, Lords 1899

The fixture was a prestigious one, though in terms of quality it fell far short of Test matches and even of the rival North v. South fixture. The Gentlemen teams were often very weak compared with the professionals, and on occasion the fixture had to be arranged on an odds basis, so that the Players eleven took on a greater number of Gentlemen. The Gentlemen famously became competitive during the career of the legendary W. G. Grace, whose performances were so outstanding that the Gentlemen could enjoy some long-awaited success. The fixture often confirmed the commonly held view of an imbalance between amateur and professional in that amateurs tended to be batsmen first and foremost, hence there were few good amateur bowlers. The Players could call on bowlers like the arch-professional Wilfred Rhodes, and were nearly always strong as a bowling side.

The game was played over three days on all but a handful of occasions throughout its history. The most frequent venue for the match was Lord's, but a number of other grounds were used, notably The Oval and Scarborough, and it was at Scarborough that the last Gentlemen v Players game was played, in September 1962.

The same format of amateurs playing professionals was used in a number of other fixtures, some of which were given first-class status – for example, "Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire v Players of Nottinghamshire" – but these matches became less common after the beginning of the 20th century, and the last such game was "Gentlemen of the South v Players of the South" in 1920, after which all first-class Gentlemen v Players matches were between teams known simply by those names.

The Gentlemen versus Players series ended after the 1962 season, when the distinction between amateur and professional players was abolished. Fred Trueman's view of the fixture was that it was a "ludicrous business" that was "thankfully abolished" after the 1962 season.[1]

Records[edit]

Results[edit]

In all 274 matches were played. The Gentlemen won 68, The Players 125, 80 matches were drawn and the first match of 1883 ended in a tie. The results of all the matches may be found in List of Gentlemen v Players matches.

Largest margins of victory[edit]

Gentlemen
innings and 126 runs: The Oval, 1879
innings and 98 runs: Lord's, 1876
innings and 87 runs: The Oval, 1868
206 runs, Lord's, 1878
193 runs: Lord's, 1829 (Gentlemen had 12 men)
134 runs: Lord's, 1914
nine wickets: The Oval, 1872
nine wickets: Prince's Cricket Ground, 1877
Players
innings and 305 runs: The Oval, 1934
innings and 231 runs: Lord's, 1924
innings and 181 runs: Lord's, 1860
345 runs: Lord's, 1823
285 runs: Lord's, 1858
241 runs: The Oval, 1914
ten wickets: seven instances

Smallest margins of victory[edit]

Tied match
The Oval, 1883
Gentlemen
four runs: Lord's, 1870
five runs: Lord's, 1888
six runs: Scarborough, 1913
one wicket: five instances
Players
one run: Hove, 1881
two runs: Lord's, 1952
eight runs: The Oval, 1893
two wickets: Lord's, 1856, Lord's, 1874, Lord's, 1900 and Scarborough, 1955

Highest team totals[edit]

Gentlemen
578: The Oval, 1904
542: Lord's, 1926
513: The Oval, 1870
Players
651/7 dec: The Oval, 1934
608: The Oval, 1921
579: Lord's, 1926

Lowest team totals[edit]

Gentlemen
35: Lord's, 3 July 1837
36: Lord's, 1831
37: Lord's, 1853
Players
24: Lord's, 1829 (first innings)
39: Lord's, 1829 (second innings)
42: Lord's, 1853

Highest individual innings[edit]

W. G. Grace, who scored 15 centuries for the Gentlemen
Gentlemen
232*: CB Fry, Lord's, 1903
217: WG Grace, Hove, 1871
215: WG Grace, The Oval, 1870
Players
266*: JB Hobbs, Scarborough, 1925
247: R Abel, The Oval, 1901
241: L Hutton, Scarborough, 1953

Hundred in each innings of a match[edit]

Gentlemen
102* & 136: RE Foster, Lord's, 1900
125 & 103*: KS Duleepsinhji, Lord's, 1930
Players
104 & 109*: J King, Lord's, 1904

Nine or more wickets in an innings[edit]

Gentlemen
9–46: JWA Stephenson, Lord's, 1936
9–82: D Buchanan, The Oval, 1868
9–105: JWHT Douglas, Lord's, 1914
Players
10–37: AS Kennedy, The Oval, 1927
10–90: A Fielder, Lord's, 1906
10-?: FW Lillywhite, Lord's, 17 July 1837 (second innings; Gentlemen had 16 men)
9–85: CH Parkin, The Oval, 1920
9-?: FW Lillywhite, Lord's, 3 July 1837

Thirteen or more wickets in a match[edit]

Gentlemen
14-?: FW Lillywhite, Lord's, 1829
Players
18-?: FW Lillywhite, Lord's, 17 July 1837 (Gentlemen had 16 men)
14–221: Arthur Fielder, Lord's, 1906
13–141: T Richardson, Hastings, 1897
13–144: AP Freeman, Lord's, 1929
13-?: FW Lillywhite, Lord's, 1835
13-?: FW Lillywhite, Lord's, 3 July 1837
13-?: James Cobbett, Lord's, 1836 (Gentlemen had 18 men)

Five catches in an innings[edit]

Gentlemen
A Lyttelton, The Oval, 1877
A Webbe, Lord's, 1877
Players
L Hutton, Lord's, 1952

Four stumpings in an innings[edit]

Gentlemen
EH Budd, Lord's, 1819
Players
W Slater, Lord's, 1824 (Gentlemen had 14 men)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Trueman, Ball of Fire, p.57.

Bibliography[edit]

  • H S Altham, A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914), George Allen & Unwin, 1962
  • Derek Birley, A Social History of English Cricket, Aurum, 1999
  • Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970
  • Arthur Haygarth, Scores & Biographies, Volumes 1–11 (1744–1870), Lillywhite, 1862–79
  • Fred Trueman, Ball of Fire, Dent, 1976
  • Roy Webber, The Playfair Book of Cricket Records, Playfair Books, 1951
  • Charles Williams, Gentlemen & Players: The Death of Amateurism in Cricket, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012, ISBN 9780753829271

External links[edit]