A scratch team is a team, usually in sport, brought together on a temporary basis, composed of players who normally play for different sides. A game played between two scratch teams may be called a scratch match.
The earliest instance of the term "scratch team" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is a restaurant guide in 1851 (London at table, by an anonymous author, referring to "'a scratch team' of servants"). The OED also records the term "scratch match" - defined as an impromptu game played by scratch teams - being used in the same year in Rev. James Pycroft's The Cricket Field - one of the earliest books about cricket - "...that is the time that some sure, judicious batsman, whose eminence is little seen amidst the loose hitting of a scratch match, comes calmly and composedly to the wicket and makes a stand;..."
Another early and notable use of the term is from 1874, when The Wanderers, who had just lost an FA Cup match for the first time, were due to play a match against Upton Park. In the words of the contemporary report, "unfortunately the Wanderers failed to put in an appearance. In order, therefore not to disappoint a large number of people who had assembled to witness the play, a scratch team was chosen to represent the missing team." The match was lost 11-0, with each of the opposing team scoring a goal.."
The term is listed in the 1913 Nelson's Encyclopedia, among slang terms.
- "scratch, adj.". OED Online. November 2010. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/173358?rskey=APOmdQ&result=3&isAdvanced=false (accessed February 15, 2011).
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