Cricket on Good Friday

Happy Good Friday! I’ve already seen plenty of tweets from cricket clubs today about pre- season cricket nets – and surely a public holiday is the perfect time for a spot of perfecting that cover drive?

Apparently the members of the Waddington village team thought the same thing in 1860, when they decided to have an impromptu practice match amongst themselves on Good Friday.

Sadly the village’s controversial Archdeacon, George Gresley Perry, who was Rector of Waddington between 1852 and 1897, had other ideas.

This was the same Rector who expected all children to acknowledge him if they met him in the village – girls to curtsey and boys to pull their forelocks – and if they failed to do so, he would rap their shoulder with his walking stick.

His attitude to cricket seems to have been equally puritanical. When he discovered that the village team had held a practice on Good Friday, he accused them of being unchristian and said that they were “setting a bad example” to the rest of the village.

Goodness knows what he would have made of Sunday league cricket!

Not all clergy felt the same way about the sport. Many 19th century clergy were Oxbridge educated, and were good cricketers . In one of the first recorded games played by a Lincolnshire side, against the MCC in August 1884, the Reverend CE Chapman – vicar of Scrivelsby – scored 53 runs for Lincolnshire in the first innings and 13 in the second; he was also a football blue, and supposedly had a very muscular physique! There was even a Lincolnshire Clergy Cricket Club, formed in 1923. They played their first match at Trent Bridge in July that year against the Southwell Clergy.

Also, the majority of teams in the early days of the Lincoln League (which was formed in 1900) were run from mission halls and church halls. Cricket was evidently felt to be a morally improving activity – though not, apparently, when it was played on Good Friday!

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