1744 English cricket season
The 1744 English cricket season was the 48th cricket season since the earliest recorded eleven-a-side match was played. The earliest known codification of the Laws of Cricket dates from this year as do the two earliest surviving match scorecards. Details have survived of 20 significant eleven-a-side and three single wicket matches.
Laws of Cricket
Although there are examples of surviving Articles of Agreement between teams from as early as the 1727 season, no written Laws of Cricket exist from before 1744. The first Laws were codified during the year by the members of the London Cricket Club, based at the Artillery Ground, although they were not typeset until 1752 in New Universal Magazine as "The Game at Cricket, as settled by the Cricket-Club, in 1744, and play’d at the Artillery Ground, London". The Laws were first published as a pamphlet, titled "The Game at Cricket, as Settled by the Several Cricket-Clubs, Particularly That of the Star and Garter in Pall-Mall", in 1755. Five Laws were included in the original code.
The Laws establish a general set of conditions under which the sport should be played, including the dimensions of the pitch, number of balls per over and the role of umpires. A copy of the original Laws, printed on the edges of a linen handkerchief, is held in the MCC museum at Lord's.
Earliest known scorecards
The season is notable for the two earliest known surviving match scorecards. The first, containing individual scores but no details of dismissals, is from a match between London and Slindon on 2 June. Just over a fortnight later the scorecard from a match between Kent and an England XI at the Artillery Ground survives dated 18 June. This became the first entry in Arthur Haygarth's Scores & Biographies, although he had the date wrong. It is not until the 1772 season that more scorecards of top-class matches have survived, although a handful of cards from minor matches have been found.
The scorecard from the London – Slindon match was kept by the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood House. It gives scores and the surnames of players only, although does differentiate between the two pairs of brothers (the Harrises and Newlands) who were playing. The Daily Advertiser carried the names of players expected to play in the match on 1–2 June and reported the same names on 3 June although these are not the same names which appear on the scorecard. No titles were given to the teams at the time and various titles have been applied retrospectively by modern authors.
The match included one of cricket's earliest known declarations by Slindon in their second innings at 102/6, although the term "declaration" was not in use at that time and neither was the concept generally recognised. Rather it was a case of Surrey & Sussex "forfeiting" part of their innings in order to allow time to bowl out their opponents. This was also the first known game at which tickets for readmission were issued to the spectators.
The second surviving scorecard is for the match between Kent and England at the Artillery Ground on 18 June. This is the first match for which a full scorecard including dismissals has survived and it is the opening entry in Scores & Biographies, although Haygarth gave the date as 1746 instead of 1744.
- 10 May - Kent v England - venue unknown
- 14 May - Surrey v England - Moulsey Hurst
- 17 May - Kent v England - venue unknown
- 21 May - England v Surrey - Artillery Ground
- 2 June - London v Slindon - Artillery Ground
- 15 June - Kent v England - Coxheath Common
- 18 June - England v Kent - Artillery Ground
- 5 July - Two Elevens - Artillery Ground
- 6 July - Two Elevens - Moulsey Hurst
- 9 July - London v Richmond - Kennington Common
- 21 July - London v Woburn - Artillery Ground
- 30 July - London v Addington - Artillery Ground
- 24 August - Surrey v London - Moulsey Hurst
- 27 August - London v Surrey - Artillery Ground
- 3 September - London v Bromley - Artillery Ground
- 7 September - London v Surrey - Artillery Ground
- 10 September - London v Slindon - Artillery Ground
- 12 September - Addington v Slindon - Artillery Ground
- 14 September - Bromley v Slindon - Artillery Ground
- 19 September - Two Elevens - Artillery Ground
Single wicket matches
Three single-wicket matches are known to have taken place during 1744. A match between a Sevenoaks player and a London player took place on 20 August, and two teams of three played on 17 September at the Artillery Ground for a stake of 200 guineas with the players involved described as the "best in England". Another match between two teams of three was played on 1 October at the same ground.
In September Slindon defeated London and issued its famous challenge to play "any parish in England". The challenge was accepted by the Addington and Bromley clubs but it is not known if either match took place.
Clubs and teams
Thanks to the survival of the two scorecards from the season a number of players are known to have played during the season. The lack of scorecards from previous seasons means that these men may have played previously, but this is their first known mention.
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