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Notes on Single-Wicket Cricket - A Checklist

This page has been researched by Matthew Smith.
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Single-wicket was a popular form of cricket during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was played, as the name suggests, with only one wicket, usually between sides of from one to six players.

The page lists brief details and sources for known single-wicket matches.

This is an ongoing project, and anyone wishing to contribute to this list is most welcome to contact (Matthew Smth at smithmaxiu AT @gmail.com. It would be advisable to make contact before compiling records of multiple matches, so as to avoid duplication.

Date
Where play took place on more than one day, all dates are listed, where known. So in the match listed as “17, 21 Sep 1796” play took place on two days only. In some cases only the year, or year and month, are known.

Where the date is followed by a dagger (†), the match was played at the conclusion of another match (usually double-wicket).

Side Name
Where the indicated source gives no team name, the first named batsman on each side is listed. Side A and Side B represent only the order in which the sides are given by the source and do not necessarily indicate which side batted first.

No. of Players
In the column to the right of each team is given the number of players, and it will be seen that matches were sometimes played at odds – with different numbers on the two sides.

Where a player or players were accompanied by fielders, the number of players is given in the format [players + fielders]. For example, on 11 Jun 1798, when William Fennex played against Three of Mitcham, he had two fielders, neither of whom were permitted to bat or bowl, so under No. of Players, for Side A, we see 1+2 (i.e. one player and two fielders). In some cases it is unknown whether additional fielders were employed, and only where it is clear that additional fielders were used are they listed.

Source
In most cases, the listed source will be a secondary source. In some cases, the listed source indicates an original or contemporaneous source, but only where the researcher has viewed that source is it noted.

The sources used are are given in the sources.

Venue
Wherever possible, venues are listed as shown by the source. Where no venue is given, this field is blank. Sometimes the name or address of a venue may appear in slightly different forms for different games. On occasion longer addresses have been shortened; the full form appears below.

Abrewas (Alrewas?), near Lichfield, in Staffordshire
Aram’s Ground, Montpelier, Walworth, also Aram’s New Ground, at Montpelier, Walworth Brunswick Ground, Hove, Brighton
College Ground at Clifton, near Bristol
Croydon Clarendon Ground, New Waddon, Croydon
Croydon Club Ground, Waddon Road, Croydon
F. Pilch’s Ground, Town Malling, Kent
George Taylor’s at Deptford: in the field behind George Taylor’s at Deptford
H. Hall’s Ground, Camberwell
Hamilton Crescent Ground, at Glasgow
Lord’s: prior to 1811, the Old Ground, on the site of Dorset Square; 1811 to 1813, the "New Middle Ground”, near North Bank, Regent’s Park; 1814 onwards, the Present Ground, St John’s Wood.
Lord Stalbridge’s Estate, Motcombe, Dorset
Marsh’s New Cricket Ground, near the Royal George, at Rochester
Middlesex County Ground, at Islington
Moulsey Hurst, in Surrey
Mr Brown’s Ground, Nunhead (South London Ground)
Mr Guy’s Ground (Half Moon), at Putney
Mr Holwell’s Ground, Wymeswold, Leicestershire
Mr W.J. Page’s Ground, Tufnell Park, Holloway
New Ground, behind North Street (Bar) Walls, York
New Ground, Hulme, Manchester
Old Serjeant’s Field, Wandsworth
Roebuck Field, near Maidstone, Kent
Severals: The "Severals” in front of Mr Richard Cotton’s, the trainer’s house, at Newmarket
Shaw Lane, Markfield, Leicestershire
Sir John Pollen’s Park, Reddenham, Hampshire
Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells
Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire
Stoke Down, near Alresford, Hampshire (Itchen Stoke Down https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itchin_Stoke_Down)
St Thomas’ Ground, Bootham Stray, York
The Chequers Field, Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir, Lincolnshire
Victoria Club, Bletchley and Fenny Stratford
Wadsley Cricket Gound, Wadsley, Sheffield
White Conduit Field, at Islington

Classification
Few announcements of 18th century cricket explicitly state whether a match is single-wicket or double-wicket. In many cases we simply don’t have enough information to say what kind of game was played. But in some cases we are told the number of players on each side.

This list has been compiled under the assumption that matches known to have been played with from one to six players on a side are single-wicket matches, and those with a greater number of players are double-wicket, unless otherwise indicated in the reference source.

Those matches for which the listed reference source does not contain the words single-wicket, or a very close approximation, have been marked with a double dagger ‡ in the date column.

During the first half of the 18th century, though matches between XIs are common, eleven does not yet seem to have established itself as the only number of players on a side for double-wicket; we see a number of matches between twelves and tens, and occasionally between sides of nine or even fourteen players.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Joseph Strutt, writing in Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (1801), tells use that:
“This game, which is played with a bat and a ball, consists of a single and a double wicket. The former requires five players on each side, the latter eleven; but the number may be varied on both sides at the pleasure of the parties.”

From early in the century, in various editions of the Laws of Cricket, and in reliable editions from 1823, it is stated that single-wicket is played with from one to six players on a side.

Clearly, single-wicket is sometimes played one against one and, at double-wicket, the minimum number required for a side is two – one to guard each wicket whilst batting, and one to bowl from each end whilst fielding. Indeed, Haygarth does note one occasion when two players played against an XI at double-wicket (S&B Vol2, p294) however, we are aware of no more than a handful of occasions on which double-wicket was played by a side of significantly fewer players than the now traditional XI.

Whilst the possibility that small sides played double-wicket cannot be completely discounted, it seems reasonable to assume the distinction between single- and double-wicket drawn both by Strutt and by most 19th century editions of the Laws of Cricket.

Some care may be required with matches featuring only one player on each side, when no fielders are mentioned. Though in many cases it appears clear that these were indeed one-on-one single-wicket matches, and fielders may or may not have been employed, it is possible that the two named players are captains or sponsors of larger teams.

The matches of 20 and 23 August 1751, listed by Ian Maun in From Commons to Lord’s Volume II, illustrate the difficulty. On 20 August a match between the Duke of Cumberland and Sir John Elvill was begun but, due to rain, only completed three days later. Following its conclusion there was a second match, played between Lord Howe and the Earl of Sandwich. Maun notes that Ashley-Cooper’s description seems to suggest that both matches were single-wicket, however Maun quotes the Whitehall Evening Post showing that the former match was in fact played between elevens, presumably at double-wicket. It remains possible that the second game, too, was not simply a one-on-one match between Lord Howe and the Earl of Sandwich. As Maun does not directly contradict Ashley-Cooper with regard to this second game having been played at single-wicket, it has been included in the list.

A similar situation is seen with the matches played on 30 and 31 May 1755 between Colonel Townshend and Lord Orford. The various accounts, provided by Maun for the first match, whilst not specifying single-wicket, seem to indicate a one-on-one match between these two gentlemen. However, the accounts of the second match make clear that this one, at least, was indeed played at single-wicket, but with five players on each side. Both matches have been included on the list, though the number of players on each side for the first game has been left blank.

Many matches during the 18th century are reported simply as 'Side A vs Side B', with no details of either the format or the number of players. In such cases, it is not possible to be know whether the match was played at single- or double-wicket. Such matches, of course, have not been included on the list.

Diary Entries
Various 18th century diary entries concerning cricket are noted in From Commons to Lord’s. In some cases, notably those of William Byrd of Virginia and Thomas Turner of East Hoathly, these feature entries mentioning small matches, sometimes for stakes, involving the author of the diary and one or more associates. It appears most likely that these would have been single-wicket games, but matches only involving the diarist and his associates have not been added to the match list. Where the diarist attended a single-wicket match as a spectator, such a match has been added to the list.