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1769 Cricket's first centurion

Discussion in 'Sevenoaks Historical Society' started by Discuss Ted, Apr 6, 2009. Replies: 0 | Views: 1491

  1. Discuss Ted

    Discuss Ted Member

    1769 Cricket's first centurion

    From CricInfo Magazine

    1769 Cricket's first centurion - by Martin Williamson
    The man who entered the record books for scoring the game's first recorded hundred.

    Although cricket can be traced back with certainty to the seventeenth century, most of the early contests are lost in the mists of time. Occasional snippets survived, but with scoring and newspapers very much in their infancy, individual feats are rarely recorded.

    In 1744 the first laws were drawn up, 10 years after cricket had been played at Sevenoaks Vine in Kent. In that same year the first full scorecard can be found.

    A partial scorecard of a match played at The Vine on August 31, 1769 is one of the earliest to survive, and from it the honour of being the first man to score a hundred was given to John Minshull.

    The game, between the Duke of Dorset's XI and Wrotham, was not a major match, even by the rather confused standards of the day, but no batsman before had been reported as making a century. Dorset, like his father, was a renowned patron of the game.

    Minshull, or Minchin as he was called on the scorecard, made 107 in Dorset's second innings - he also top-scored in the first with 18 - which included 34 singles, 15 twos, nine threes and four fours, the latter all-run. Other details of the match are sketchy - Wrotham's scores are not even mentioned - but his was the first stroke-by-stroke record of any major innings.

    To put his achievement into context, it was an era where it was relatively rare for a team to reach a total in excess of 100, and a batsman who got into double figures was considered to have done well. Pitches were little more than an area selected on a field that would have been kept in trim by sheep. The playing surface would have been uneven, and bats were unsprung and little more than carved wood.

    Dorset, who three years later donated the ground to the Sevenoaks Vine club, recognised Minshull's talent, and as was often the way, subsequently employed him as head gardener at Knole House, his Kent estate, at 20 guineas a year. While Minshull reportedly fulfilled that role diligently, a major part of his job also involved playing cricket for the Duke and the club. [more]
     

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