1731 English cricket season
The 1731 cricket season was the 134th in England since the earliest known definite reference to cricket in January 1597 (i.e., Old Style – 1598 New Style). Details have survived of thirty important matches and one single wicket match.
Match reports in the newspapers were increasingly common and tended to contain more detail, sometimes including the names of patrons and players. Tim Coleman was named in the report of a minor match in which he was playing, and referred to as "the famous Tim Coleman". Records have been found of 30 important matches in 1731.
The most dramatic match of the season was the one at Richmond Green on 23 August. It ended in a riot and it is believed that the 2nd Duke of Richmond conceded defeat after the match was originally declared a draw. Of greater significance, it is the earliest match for which the team totals were recorded and have been preserved, rather than simply who won the wager.
|17 April (Sa)||London v Surrey||Lamb's Conduit Field||London won by 35 runs|||
The Daily Advertiser reported that the match was "played for 30 guineas a side and, after a great deal of good Play on both sides, it was won by (Kent) by three Notches only".
|31 May (M)||London v Sevenoaks||Kennington Common||result unknown|||
Advance notice was given of this game and the one below, both at the same venue.
|1 June (Tu)||London v Chelsfield||Kennington Common||London won|||
London played Chelsfield, then in Kent, in an evening match with a stake of 30 guineas. This is the only time a Chelsfield team appears in the sources.
|5 June (S)||London v Dartford||Artillery Ground||London won by 15 runs|||
|8 June (Tu)||London v Kent||Kennington Common||London won|||
An evening match played for 30 guineas.
|16 June (W)||Dartford v London||Dartford Brent||drawn|||
A return match was immediately arranged, to be played on Thursday, 24 June at the Artillery Ground.
|18 June (F)||London v Enfield||Lamb's Conduit Field||London won by 14 runs|||
This is the only time an Enfield team is recorded in surviving sources.
|24 June (Th)||London v Dartford||Artillery Ground||result unknown|||
This was arranged immediately after the game at Dartford Brent on Wednesday, 16 June (according to the St James Evening Post).
|26 June (S)||Sunbury v Kent||Sunbury Common||Sunbury won by "several notches"|||
Played for 30 guineas a side. The Kent side was organised by Edwin Stead of Maidstone. Sunbury had a leading team at the time.
|30 June (W)||Dartford v London||Dartford Brent||drawn|||
The match ran out of time but "it was thought (London) would have won had there been time to play it out". They arranged to play again on Monday, 5 July (see below).
|5 July (M)||London v Dartford||Artillery Ground||result unknown|||
H. T. Waghorn recorded that play did not finish at Dartford Brent on Wednesday, 30 June (see above) and the match was to be replayed at the Artillery Ground on the following Monday, 5 July. There was an advert dated Saturday, 3 July for the re-match. Stumps were "to be pitched exactly at two o'clock". Time in those days was determined by the local church clock.
|12 July (M)||London v Sevenoaks||Kennington Common||result unknown|||
This game is the first known to have been played in an enclosed ground, though with only a rope around the field. The newspaper report says: "the ground will be roped round and all persons are desired to keep without side of the same". The stakes were "a guinea a man"; wickets to be pitched "by one o'clock".
|12 July (M)||Surrey v East Grinstead||Smitham Bottom, Coulsdon||East Grinstead won by 5 wickets|||
This is the only time an East Grinstead team is recorded in surviving sources.
|13 July (Tu)||Chelsea v Fulham||Chelsea Common||Fulham won|||
The Chelsea and Fulham teams are rarely mentioned in the sources but seem to have played for high stakes in matches reported by the press. Their playing strengths cannot now be ascertained.
|14 July (W)||Hampton v Brentford||Moulsey Hurst||result unknown|||
Reported in advance only: "we hear that above £500 is already laid on their heads, neither party having yet been beat".
|19 July (M)||Kent v Middlesex||Kennington Common||result unknown|||
Reported in advance only: "for £50 a side". The report stresses that the contestants are "the County of Kent" and "the County of Middlesex".
|20 July (Tu)||Croydon v London||Duppas Hill||Croydon won|||
The original report in Fog's Weekly Journal calls the winning team "Surrey" but a report of the return match on Monday, 26 July refers to "Croydon". As the names seem to be interchangeable, it must be assumed that the Croydon club was effectively representative of Surrey as a county at this time. This match was played at Duppas Hill, home venue of the Croydon club.
|26 July (M)||London v Croydon||Artillery Ground||Croydon won|||
Buckley's source was the Daily Advertiser on Tues 27 July. Another source (Read's Weekly Journal, quoted in Dawn of Cricket) reports that London were playing Dartford, but this match was almost certainly a return of the one at Duppas Hill on Tuesday, 20 July. "Wickets to be pitched at 1 pm under forfeiture of £10 on either side".
|9 August (M)||"A Great Cricket Match"||Richmond Green||result unknown|||
The St James's Evening Post on 27–29 July announced "a great Cricket match" to be held "on Monday se'nnight" (i.e., Monday, 9 August, as the term means "a week on Monday") at Richmond Green for 100 guineas "by several persons of Distinction". The Prince of Wales was expected to be present.
|10 August (Tu)||Fulham v Chelsea||Parsons Green||Fulham won|||
A return fixture to the one in Chelsea on Tuesday, 13 July.
|16 August (M)||2nd Duke of Richmond's XI v Thomas Chambers' XI||Chichester||Chambers' XI won|||
The stake in this game was 100 guineas. No details are reported other than that Chambers' XI won. It seems that Chambers and his team all came from Middlesex so the match could perhaps be titled Sussex v Middlesex. According to John Major, Thomas Chambers was a forebear of Lord Frederick Beauclerk.
|23 August (M)||Thomas Chambers' XI v 2nd Duke of Richmond's XI||Richmond Green||Duke of Richmond conceded?|||
This return match was played for 200 guineas and it is notable as the earliest match from which team scores are known: Richmond's XI 79, Chambers' XI 119; Richmond's XI 72, Chambers' XI 23-5 (approx.). The game ended promptly at a pre-agreed time although Chambers' XI with "four or five more to have come in" and needing "about 8 to 10 notches" clearly had the upper hand. The end result caused a fracas among the crowd at Richmond Green who were incensed by the prompt finish because the Duke of Richmond had arrived late and delayed the start of the game. The riot resulted in some of the Sussex players "having the shirts torn off their backs; and it was said a law suit would commence about the play". The source (Buckley) includes a further note which suggests the Duke of Richmond may have later conceded the result to Thomas Chambers (see match on Monday, 6 September below).
|2 September (Th)||Croydon v London||Duppas Hill||Surrey won|||
Played for 11 guineas. It is reported that "a dispute arose and it was agreed to play it again on Monday, 13 September".
|4 September (S)||Surrey v Kent||Dulwich Common||drawn (rain)|||
This game was drawn due to heavy rain. Kent led by 17 on first innings but Surrey, with 3 wickets standing, needed just 12 to win when rain ended it. The report says the participants originally intended to continue another time but it seems they settled for the draw.
|6 September (M)||Surrey v Thomas Chambers' XI||Sanderstead Common||Surrey won|||
The Daily Post Boy reported on Wednesday, 8 September that "11 of Surrey beat the 11 who about a fortnight ago beat the Duke of Richmond's men". See the game on Monday, 23 August above. The report suggests that the Duke of Richmond conceded his controversial game against Chambers.
|15 September (W)||London v Croydon||Artillery Ground||Croydon won|||
Again the confusion between Croydon and Surrey: one report says Croydon, another says Surrey. Croydon is the more likely. This was probably the replay of the game on Thursday, 2 September (see above), but postponed by two days from the originally agreed date.
|28 September (Tu)||Surrey v London||Kennington Common||result unknown|||
No post-match report was found for this match despite its being promoted as "likely to be the best performance of this kind that has been seen for some time, there being great wagers depending". It was reported that "for the convenience of the gamesters, the ground is to be staked and roped out" so it seems that enclosure quickly became common practice in 1731. In addition, the advertisement refers to "the whole county of Surrey" as London's opponents. The Prince of Wales was expected to attend.
|? September||Surrey v Kingston||Moulsey Hurst||Surrey won|||
The exact date is unknown. Played for 25 guineas a side and "some thousands of persons of both sexes were present on this occasion".
|2 October (S)||Mitcham v Ewell||Mitcham Cricket Green||Mitcham won "by several notches"|||
Played for a small stake, the report mentions "the famous Tim Coleman" who usually played for London and was in the Ewell team on this occasion. It is rarely that a player is mentioned by name in these early reports and even more rarely that he is given praise. Tim Coleman was on the losing side in this game as the home team won "by several notches".
|2 October (S)||"A Great Cricket Match"||Artillery Ground||result unknown|||
The source reports: "A great cricket match will be play'd in the Artillery Ground; it will be the last plaid (sic) this season; 11 of a side, stumps to be pitch'd exactly at 12 o'clock". Nothing further has been found and the match might not have been played.
July. A single wicket match was played at Maidstone between two officers of the Royal Horse Guards, Captain Beak and Lieutenant Coke. It was for a "considerable sum of money" and won by Captain Beak after three hours "very hard played". Waghorn stated that it was the first military match he found during his researches.
July (exact date unknown). An unusual match at Duppas Hill, Croydon, between a Kent team and a Surrey team who were all called Wood. The Woods won. This is interesting given the well documented confusion over different players called Wood or Woods in the 1770s.
Clubs and teams
- East Grinstead
- Thomas Chambers' XI
- Thomas Chambers
- Tim Coleman
- Frederick, Prince of Wales
- Captain Beak and Lieutenant Coke
- Chelsea Common
- Dulwich Common
- Parsons Green
- Sanderstead Common
- Smitham Bottom
- Sunbury Common
- First-class cricket was officially defined in May 1894 by a meeting at Lord's of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the county clubs which were then competing in the County Championship. The ruling was effective from the beginning of the 1895 season. Pre-1895 matches of the same standard have no official definition of status because the ruling is not retrospective and the important matches designation, as applied to a given match, is based on the views of one or more substantial historical sources. For further information, see First-class cricket, Forms of cricket and History of cricket.
- Maun, p. 47.
- Waghorn (DC), p. 8.
- ACS, Important Matches, p. 20.
- Buckley (FL18), p. 5.
- Waghorn (DC), pp. 8–9.
- Waghorn (DC), p. 9.
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- Buckley (FL18), p. 6.
- Major, p. 56.
- Waghorn (DC), p. 10.
- Waghorn (CS), p. 4.
- Waghorn (CS), p. 3.
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- Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane.
- Collins, A. R. (2016). "Historical Calendar". Dr A. R. Collins.