1729 English cricket season

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1729 English cricket season

1729 was the 33rd English cricket season since the earliest known important match was played. Details have survived of seven important matches. The earliest known innings victory is believed to have happened and the earliest known surviving cricket bat dates from the season. The earliest known reference to cricket in the county of Gloucestershire has been found.

Important matches[edit]

The following matches are classified as important:[fc 1]

date match title venue result source
24 June (Tu) Kent v Sussex Walworth Common result unknown [1]

The match was for fifty pounds per side with a play or pay rule agreed. It is the earliest match featuring a team that is expressly called Sussex, though teams raised by patrons in earlier seasons are understood to have been composed mainly of Sussex players.

30 July (Wed) Dartford v London Dartford (precise venue not specified) result unknown [2]

The teams were described as "the Gentlemen of Dartford and London"; the stake was fifty pounds.

5 August (Tu) London v Dartford Kennington Common Dartford won "very much" [3][4]

Described thus: "a great Cricket Match at Kennington Common between the Londoners and the Dartford men, for a considerable Sum of Money, Wager and Betts, and the latter beat the former very much".[5]

26 August (Tu) Surrey v Kent Farnham (precise venue not specified) result unknown [5]

The Daily Journal on 26 August reported that a match would be played same day near Farnham between "Mr Steed (sic) of Kent and his Company, against the best Players in the County of Surrey".[5]

28 August (Th) Edwin Stead's XI v Sir William Gage's XI Penshurst Park Sir William Gage's XI won (by an innings?) [6][7][4]

Stead v Gage was alternatively titled Kent (Stead's XI) v Sussex, Surrey & Hampshire (Gage's XI). It was an 11-a-side match played for 100 guineas with "some thousands" watching.[6] The match seems to have resulted in the earliest known innings victory as Gage's XI "got (within three) in one hand, as the former did in two hands, so the Kentish men (i.e., Stead's XI) threw it up". The report added re Thomas Waymark that "a groom of the 2nd Duke of Richmond signalised himself by extraordinary agility and dexterity".[6]

The report then states that "(Waymark) turned the scale of victory, which for some years past has been generally on the Kentish side".[6] This indicates that inter-county matches had been played for many years previously and that there was keen rivalry with each team seeking ascendancy: i.e., as "champions" or, given a 1728 reference to the superiority of Kent, at least of "bragging rights".[8]

Penshurst Park surrounds Penshurst Place, then the seat of John Sidney, 6th Earl of Leicester, near Tonbridge in Kent.

? Sept Hampshire, Surrey & Sussex v Kent Lewes (precise venue not specified) result unknown [6][4]

A report dated 13 September says that: "the great match played at Penshurst will be played again in Sussex".[6] This is the first time that Hampshire is known to be used in a team name, though not individually.[8]

County cricket[edit]

It appears that Gage's XI was representative of three counties and so should perhaps be considered a Rest of England team formed to challenge Kent, who had hitherto enjoyed: "the scale of victory, which for some years past has been generally on the Kentish side" (see above). The match on 24 June involved a team specifically named Sussex, but the result is unknown. Despite losing to Gage's team in August, Kent under the patronage of Edwin Stead is generally believed to have been the strongest county team[fc 2] of the 1720s.[9]

Other events[edit]

The oldest cricket bat still in existence dates from 1729. Note the shape, which is more like that of a modern-day hockey stick than a modern-day cricket bat. It is kept in the Sandham Room in the Member's Pavilion at the Oval

There is a bat in The Oval pavilion which belonged to John Chitty of Knaphill, Surrey. Dated 1729, it is the oldest known bat.[10] It looks more like a field hockey stick than a modern cricket bat but its curvature was to enable the batsman to play a ball that was always rolled or skimmed along the ground, as in bowls, never pitched. Pitching began about 30 years later and the straight bats used nowadays were invented in response to the pitched delivery.[8]

Dr Samuel Johnson attended the University of Oxford from October 1728 until the following summer and later told James Boswell that cricket matches were played there. Boswell mentioned this in his Life of Samuel Johnson.[1]

Tuesday, 5 August. Gentlemen of Middlesex v Gentlemen of London was announced, to be played at the "Woolpack", Islington. The venue was described as "in the Field behind the Woolpack Back Gate near Sadler's Wells", the match having a stake of £50 per side. Several sources have listed the match in 1728 due to an error in original research. As London were playing Dartford on the same day (see above), this match was as advertised "gentlemen only".[6][8]

A local game in Gloucester on Monday, 22 September is the earliest known reference to cricket in Gloucestershire.[10]

First mentions[edit]


Clubs and teams[edit]


  • none



  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "Champion County" is an unofficial seasonal title proclaimed by media or historians prior to December 1889 when the official County Championship was constituted.


  1. ^ a b c d e Maun, p. 38.
  2. ^ Maun, pp. 38–39.
  3. ^ Buckley, p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c ACS, Important Matches, p. 19.
  5. ^ a b c d Maun, p. 39.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Waghorn, p. 7.
  7. ^ Wilson, p. 50.
  8. ^ a b c d Leach, John (2007). "From Lads to Lord's – 1729". Stumpsite. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Leach, John (2008). "Champion cricket teams since 1728". Stumpsite. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Bowen, p. 263.


  • ACS (1981). A Guide to Important Cricket Matches Played in the British Isles 1709 – 1863. Nottingham: ACS. 
  • Bowen, Rowland (1970). Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development. Eyre & Spottiswoode. 
  • Buckley, G. B. (1935). Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket. Cotterell. 
  • Maun, Ian (2009). From Commons to Lord's, Volume One: 1700 to 1750. Roger Heavens. ISBN 978 1 900592 52 9. 
  • Waghorn, H. T. (1906). The Dawn of Cricket. Electric Press. 
  • Wilson, Martin (2005). An Index to Waghorn. Bodyline. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Altham, H. S. (1962). A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914). George Allen & Unwin. 
  • Birley, Derek (1999). A Social History of English Cricket. Aurum. 
  • Buckley, G. B. (1937). Fresh Light on pre-Victorian Cricket. Cotterell. 
  • Major, John (2007). More Than A Game. HarperCollins. 
  • Marshall, John (1961). The Duke who was Cricket. Muller. 
  • McCann, Tim (2004). Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century. Sussex Record Society. 
  • Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane. 

External links[edit]