United All England Eleven versus the Twenty-two of the Channel Islands: May 1866

Double your cricket numbers with England's finest (or second finest) at the Fort Ground. The newspaper notes: 'Although the Twenty-two are said to be of the Channel Islands, three only are natives, the remainder being officers of the garrison or other temporary English residents.' From the Star, March 31st, 1866.

This match, which had been looked forward to with so much interest in these islands, commenced on Monday afternoon [May 28] on the garrison field, Fort George, Guernsey,1 was continued on Tuesday, and concluded yesterday evening.

The Jersey members of the Twenty-two, together with a considerable number of visitors, and the band of the 6th Royals, arrived by the Normandy from that island on Monday morning, and the Eleven, with many amateurs of cricket, arrived by the mailboat from Weymouth at one o’clock in the afternoon.

At 2 o’clock the spectators, among whom were the Lieutenant-Governor and Mrs Scott, and a large number of the élite of the island, began to assemble on the ground. A large, commodious, and well-sheltered stand had been erected for the use of the subscribers to the match fund and for the holders of first-class tickets, while in other parts of the field were tents for the committee, for the players, and for the sale of refreshments; and non-commissioned officers and privates of the Royal Artillery and of the 6th Regiment, were employed to keep the ground and carry out the general arrangements.

The Band of the 6th Royals commenced playing at about half-past two on Monday. The Eleven came on the ground about 3, when the wickets were pitched, and the Twenty-two having gained the toss, sent in their competitors, who placed Bignall and Pryor at the wickets, Messrs Bilham and Little acting as bowlers.

The innings lasted until half-past 6, when, with nine wickets down, the Eleven had scored 126. The game was resumed at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and at 12 the Eleven went out with a score of 139.

The Twenty-two, consisting of the following gentlemen, then went in: Messrs Saunders, Woodford, Bilham, Harmann, Hebeler, Blades, Le Lièvre, Thornton, Seddon, Barton, Giffard, Little, Alban, Morton, Tudor, Stainer, Gandy, Ireland, Cloete, Crewe, White, and Frecker. The innings was completed with a score of 72.

The eleven then went in for their second innings, and continuing yesterday morning came out with a score of 201.

The Twenty-two followed, and in about two hours were disposed of for 77, the match terminating at 6 p.m. United All England 139 and 201 = 340 all out; The Twenty-two of the Channel Islands, 72 and 77 = 149 all out, United All England winning by 191 runs.

To the uninitiated this result will be a cause of surprise, as the generality would suppose that any eleven could defeat double their number of players of average proficiency. [Difference however to be expected.] The Eleven whom we have had so much pleasure in seeing in Guernsey, and who have given us so much useful instruction, form, as it were, a complete piece of mechanism, each of the parts of which is perfect in itself, and all of which work in entire harmony. The machine makes no mistakes, and never fails to do its appointed work. The Twenty-two, on the contrary, although all of them good and some of them superior players, were not bound together like their antagonists. Collected, for this occasion, from Guernsey, Jersey, and Alderney, they were without the advantages of drill, and were in a great degree ignorant of each others’ specialities, which, had they known them, would have enabled them to turn their powers to better account. Moreover, they were decidedly inferior in the grand point of bowling.² They had here, in fact, no chance with the Eleven. The quick and accurate balls of Atkinson, and the insidious, slow, and twisting balls of Iddison, could not be contended with, and although the Twenty-two had some really good bowlers on their side, they were no match for the opposite party in this particular.

Under the circumstances neither surprise nor regret need be felt at the issue of the contest. On the contrary, the Channel Islands cricketers have received a lesson which will, no doubt, be productive of useful effects, and as for the public of Guernsey they have had a three days’ holiday which they have thoroughly enjoyed. Yesterday evening a subscription ball took place at the Assembly Rooms, which was well attended, and gave great satisfaction to all who were present. The United All England Eleven left Guernsey this morning for Weymouth.

The innings and individual England player biographies may be found here.

1 The Committee for promoting this match was headed up by the chief officers of the Royal Artillery and 6th Regiments. It was proposed that the game would be held on the Fort Ground and that the expenses of the match, reckoned at £100, be raised by public subscription. Reserved seats were to be given to those who subscribed a sovereign, while a 10 shilling subscription gained a ticket to the ground. A standard day ticket was only one franc. It was felt that although the Fort Ground had somewhat limited space, in Cambridge Park 'it would be impossible, as well as highly dangerous, to play the fast bowling of the United All England Eleven.' There was some carping in the newspapers that the visiting team was not in fact All England, but United All England, and therefore inferior, but no-one seems to have minded that very much.

2 To the Editor of the Star (June 2, 1866): 'SIR:- Permit me to remark that it is usual in England for amateur cricketers to engage a professional bowler for one or two seasons, before they think of playing the United England All Eleven. For ten years I attended all the great matches at Lords’, beside many other matches in different parts of England, and I have always found and observed that a great deal of practise is necessary, more than many seem to imagine, with professional bowlers, to be able to keep the bat against their bowling. I am one of those that are surprised, not that the Twenty-two of the Channel Islands did not score more, but that they scored so many.' On June 5th was published another letter, belittling the previous one and claiming that 'the mistakes made on the field were the chief cause of Guernsey’s defeat in the late match, and while there is no doubt that a professional bowler would be a very good thing, still he could not have prevented these misses.'