1778 English cricket season

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1778 English cricket season

1778 was the 82nd English cricket season since the earliest known important match was played. It marked the end of Thomas Brett's career as the game's first great fast bowler.

According to John Arlott in his Arlott on Cricket: "...in 1778 Hambledon announced home and out matches - on level terms and with no 'given' players - with Alresford for fifty guineas a match." He gives no further details.

Important matches[edit]

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

date match title venue source result
30 May (S) Hambledon Club v Hambledon Parish Itchin Stoke Down FL18 result unknown

Pre-announced in the Hampshire Chronicle on Mon 18 May as Hambledon Club v Hambledon Parish with Noah Mann. The title in the ACS list (Hambledon Parish v Hampshire) is incorrect.

Often called Stoke Down, the venue here is more correctly known as Itchin Stoke Down. It is near Alresford and not, as many believe, near Hambledon, Hampshire.

29–30 June (M-Tu) All-England v Hampshire Sevenoaks Vine SB37 Hampshire won by 3 wkts

All-England 88 (W Yalden 19; T Brett 2w, R Francis 2w, N Mann 2w) & 122 (J Miller 32, W Yalden 22; T Brett 2w, R Nyren 2w, N Mann 2w); Hampshire 71 (R Francis 24; E Stevens 3w) & 140 (R A Veck 53*, R Nyren 38; W Lamborn 2w)

Hampshire had William Bedster as a given man.

6–7 July (M-Tu) Hampshire v All-England Itchin Stoke Down SB37 All-England won by 45 runs

All-England 143 (T White 33, J Minshull 31, J Wood 26, W Yalden 24*; T Taylor 3w, N Mann 2w) & 130 (W Bedster 34, W Bowra 29; R Nyren 4w); Hampshire 152 (John Small 49*, T Sueter 22; E Stevens 4w) & 76 (R Francis 23; E Stevens 3w, W Lamborn 3w)

24–25 August (M-Tu) London v Dartford Artillery Ground FL18 result unknown

This was pre-advertised as Hampshire v All-England but that fixture was postponed and London v Dartford was played instead. The postponement was recorded in the Daily Advertiser on Fri 21 August.

The Morning Chronicle on Tues 25 August reports that London scored over 120 and Dartford 84. Dartford at one point were apparently 0-5! The remainder of the match was to be played out the same day (Tuesday) but no subsequent report was found.

10–11 September (Th-F) Chertsey v All-England Laleham Burway FL18 Chertsey won by innings & 24 runs

All-England 65 (Boltwood 27; E Stevens 2w, W Lamborn 2w) & 89 (J Miller 29; W Lamborn 6w, E Stevens 2w); Chertsey 178 (W Yalden 49, E Stevens 24*, H Attfield 24; Polden 4w, W Bullen 2w)

This is one of those games where the status is questionable because of the use of a club name in the title. In real terms, Chertsey should be viewed as Earl of Tankerville’s XI. The All-England XI was undoubtedly weaker than normal with four unknown players Boltwood, Mansfield, Polden and Irons, though two of these at least performed with credit in the game.

15 September (Tu) All-England v Chertsey Artillery Ground FL18 result unknown

This is the last time we have an important match played at the Artillery Ground. Hambledon was by now the predominant centre of English cricket and a lot of games were being played at other outlying venues such as Laleham Burway, Bishopsbourne Paddock and Sevenoaks Vine. London for the time being had been abandoned but the noblemen and gentlemen soon began to yearn for a return to the metropolis, as we shall see. Though not at the Artillery Ground, which had fallen into very bad repute.

The General Advertiser on the same day announced this match as a return to the game at Laleham Burway on 10 & 11 September. It was not reported afterwards.

24–25 September (Th-F) Hampshire v Surrey Broadhalfpenny Down ACS Spring Journal 2010 Hampshire won by 4 wkts

The stake was £1100. Surrey scored 115 (W Bedster 63*, T White 28) & 166 (J Miller 59); Hampshire replied with 135 (N Mann 31) & 149-6 (R A Veck 46, T Sueter 49).

6–8 October (Tu-Th) Surrey v Hampshire Laleham Burway SB38 Surrey won by 138 runs

Surrey 238 (J Minshull 75, W Bedster 48, J Miller 42, W Yalden 24, T White 23*; T Brett 3w, T Taylor 2w) & 105 (J Miller 20; N Mann 3w, T Brett 2w); Hampshire 116 (G Leer 31; W Lamborn 6w, E Stevens 2w) & 89 (T Sueter 20; E Stevens 4w)

A notice in the Morning Post on Mon 5 October said: "We hear the noblemen and gentlemen of the Grand Cricket Club (sic) have established a fund for the purpose of rewarding such players as particularly distinguish themselves in the great county match: and it is said the hero of the capital match to be played tomorrow at Chertsey, between Hampshire and Surrey, will be entitled to the first prize". Could this have been the first Man of the Match award?

This game was played rather late in the year and it marks the end of a very notable career as it was the great Thomas Brett's swansong. Brett was still only 31 but it seems he may have finished playing for employment reasons. He appears to have left the Hambledon area and moved to Portsmouth. Brett was described in Nyren's book as both the fastest and straightest of all the underarm bowlers.

The description of Brett as the fastest and straightest of all bowlers brings to mind Brian Statham, who was also noted for his accuracy despite bowling at high pace. Statham once expressed a philosophy that Brett might well have shared: "If they miss, I hit".

The statistical record from 1772 is proof of his ability, bearing in mind that all his known wickets were bowled. It is reasonable to assume that a third or more of catches taken by Hampshire fielders were off his bowling. His known wicket tally was 102 but bowling details in every game are either unknown or incomplete. We do know he took 29 wickets (i.e., bowled only) in just five matches in the 1777 season; with catches, the true figure could well be 40-plus.

It is curious that, in his recorded matches, Brett never played for anyone except Hampshire whereas his contemporaries made appearances for numerous teams. Brett made 31 appearances for Hampshire in games with surviving scorecards from 1772 to 1778.

First-class debutants[edit]

The following players made their first known appearance during the 1778 season.

Leading batsmen[edit]

Note that many scorecards in the 18th century are unknown or have missing details and so it is impossible to provide a complete analysis of batting performances: e.g., the missing not outs prevent computation of batting averages. The "runs scored" are in fact the runs known.

runs player
162 William Yalden
147 John Minshull
138 Joseph Miller
132 William Bedster
97 Thomas White
81 Tom Sueter

Leading bowlers[edit]

Note that the wickets credited to an 18th-century bowler were only those where he bowled the batsman out. The bowler was not credited with the wickets of batsmen who were caught out, even if it was "caught and bowled". In addition, the runs conceded by each bowler were not recorded so no analyses or averages can be computed.

wkts player
22 Lamborn
20 Edward "Lumpy" Stevens
10 Thomas Brett
10 Noah Mann
8 Richard Nyren
5 Thomas Taylor

Leading fielders[edit]

Note that many scorecards in the 18th century are unknown or have missing details and so the totals are of the known catches and stumpings only. Stumpings were not always recorded as such and sometimes the name of the wicket-keeper was not given. Generally, a catch was given the same status as "bowled" with credit being awarded to the fielder only and not the bowler. There is never a record of "caught and bowled"the bowler would be credited with the catch, not with the wicket.

ct/st player
8+1 William Yalden
5 John Minshull
5 Thomas Taylor
4 John Wood of Seal
3 William Bedster


  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.



  • Ashley-Cooper, F. S. (1924). Hambledon Cricket Chronicle 1772–1796. Jenkins.
  • Buckley, G. B. (1935). Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket. Cotterell.
  • Haygarth, Arthur (1862). Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826). Lillywhite.
  • Mote, Ashley (1997). The Glory Days of Cricket. Robson.
  • Nyren, John (1998). Ashley Mote, ed. The Cricketers of my Time. Robson.
  • Waghorn, H. T. (1906). The Dawn of Cricket. Electric Press.
  • Wilson, Martin (2005). An Index to Waghorn. Bodyline.

Further reading[edit]

  • ACS (1981). A Guide to Important Cricket Matches Played in the British Isles 1709 – 1863. Nottingham: ACS.
  • 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.
  • Bowen, Rowland (1970). Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development. Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  • Buckley, G. B. (1937). Fresh Light on pre-Victorian Cricket. Cotterell.
  • McCann, Tim (2004). Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century. Sussex Record Society.
  • Major, John (2007). More Than A Game. HarperCollins.
  • Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane.

External links[edit]