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Kent county cricket teams have been traced back to the 17th century but the county's involvement in
cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bai ...

cricket
goes back much further than that. Kent, jointly with
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...

Sussex
, is generally accepted as the birthplace of the sport. It is widely believed that cricket was first played by children living on the
Weald The Weald (, ) is an area of South East England South East England is one of the nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the highest tier of sub-national division in England ...
in Saxon or Norman times. The world's earliest known organised match was held in Kent c.1611 and the county has always been at the forefront of cricket's development through the growth of village cricket in the 17th century to representative matches in the 18th. A Kent team took part in the earliest known inter-county match, which was played on
Dartford Brent Dartford Brent was an extensive area of common land on the outskirts of Dartford Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford, Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It b ...

Dartford Brent
in 1709. Several famous players and patrons were involved in Kent cricket from then until the creation of the first county club in 1842. Among them were William Bedle,
Robert Colchin Robert "Long Robin" Colchin (1713 – c. 27 April 1750) was a highly influential professionalism, professional English cricketer and match organiser of the mid-Georgian period at a time when the single wicket cricket, single wicket version of ...
and the 3rd Duke of Dorset. Kent were generally regarded as the strongest county team in the first half of the 18th century and were always one of the main challengers to the dominance of Hambledon in the second half. County cricket ceased through the
Napoleonic War The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ... and its allies, led by Napoleon I ...
and was resurrected in 1826 when Kent played Sussex. By the 1830s, Kent had again become the strongest county and remained so until mid-century.


Early cricket in Kent

Cricket is believed to have developed out of other
bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport * Battlef ...
and was probably first played in early medieval times to the south and south-east of London in the geographical areas of the
North Downs The North Downs are a ridge of chalk Chalk is a soft, white, porous Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the (i.e. "empty") spaces in a , and is a of voids over the total volume, between 0 and 1, or as a between 0% and 100%. Stric ...
, the
South Downs The South Downs are a range of chalk hills that extends for about across the south-eastern coastal counties of England from the Itchen valley Itchen Valley is a civil parish in the England, English county of Hampshire. Forming part of the City ...
and the
Weald The Weald (, ) is an area of South East England South East England is one of the nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the highest tier of sub-national division in England ...
; hence, the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey were its earliest centres of excellence.A brief history of Kent
CricInfo ''ESPN''cricinfo (formerly known as Cricinfo or CricInfo) is a sports news website exclusively for the game of cricket. The site features news, articles, live coverage of cricket matches (including liveblogs and scorecards), and ''StatsGuru'' ...
. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
The world's earliest known organised match took place in Kent, c.1611, at
Chevening Chevening House is a large country house in the parish of Chevening in Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Su ...
. A later court case described it as a "cricketing of the Weald and the Upland versus the Chalk Hill". Cricket became established in Kent and its neighbouring counties through the 17th century with the development of
village cricket Village cricket is a term, sometimes pejorative, given to the playing of cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pit ...

village cricket
and it is possible that the earliest county teams were formed in the aftermath of the
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
in 1660. In 1705, a newspaper recorded an 11-a-side match between West of Kent and Chatham at a place called "Maulden", which does not exist. Historians have surmised that the venue must have been either
Maidstone Maidstone is the largest town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origi ...
or Malling (later West of Kent teams played at Maidstone).Maun, p. 7.300 Years of Cricket at Town Malling
Town Malling Cricket Club. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
Kent County Cricket Club Timeline
Kent County Cricket Club. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
Four years later, the earliest known inter-county match took place when a Kent side and one from Surrey played against each other on
Dartford Brent Dartford Brent was an extensive area of common land on the outskirts of Dartford Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford, Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It b ...

Dartford Brent
. It is generally believed, as asserted by G. B. Buckley, that "inter-county matches" till about 1730 were really inter-parish matches involving two villages on either side of a county boundary.
Dartford Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford The Borough of Dartford is a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in the north-west of the county of Kent, England. Its council is based in the town of Dartford. It is ...
was an important club in the first half of the 18th century and its team at this time featured William Bedle, who is acknowledged to have been cricket's first great player. The 1709 match is the earliest known mention of Dartford Brent as a venue.Our history: Dartford Brent
Dartford Cricket Club Dartford Cricket Club is one of the oldest cricket clubs in England with origins which date from the early 18th century, perhaps earlier. The earliest known match involving a team from Dartford took place in 1722, against London Cricket Club, Lo ...
. Retrieved 2017-11-28.


18th century

The
Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians (ACS) was founded in England in 1973 for the purpose of researching and collating information about the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything ...
(ACS) considers Kent to be one of cricket's "major counties" throughout its entire history and rates all Kent county matches in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as many played by teams called East Kent or West Kent, as
first-class First class (or 1st class, Firstclass) generally implies a high level of service, importance or quality. Specific uses of the term include: Books and Comics * ''First Class'', List of Dandy comic strips, a comic strip in ''The Dandy'' (1983-1998 ...
.ACS, ''op. cit.'', p. 4. The ACS have explained that any match between a strong Kent eleven and another top-class team justifies the classification but caution is needed with nomenclature because of the different committees and sponsors who organised the games and would sometimes use team names other than "Kent".ACS, ''op. cit.'', p. 10. Dartford came under the patronage of
Edwin Stead Edwin Stead (1701 – 28 August 1735) was a noted patron of English cricket, particularly of Kent county cricket teams, Kent teams in the 1720s. He usually captain (cricket), captained his teams but nothing is known about his ability as a player. ...
through the 1720s and its team became representative of Kent as a county,Wallace L ''et al.'' (2014) Archaeological Investigations of a Major Building, probably Roman, and related landscape features at Bourne Park, Bishopsbourne, 2011–12, ''Archaeologia Cantiana'', Vol. 134, pp.187–203.
Available online
Retrieved 2017-12-17).
often playing against teams from
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...
.The history of Kent Cricket: Part 1 – Prehistory
Kent Cricket Heritage Trust. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
Stead developed a keen rivalry with the Sussex patrons
Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, 2nd Duke of Lennox, 2nd Duke of Aubigny, (18 May 17018 August 1750) of Goodwood House near Chichester in Sussex, was a British nobleman and politician. He was the son of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmo ...

Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond
, and Sir William Gage. Their teams would name themselves either by their counties or as the patron's XI. There were three Kent v Sussex matches in 1728 and Stead's team won them all. After the third win, a newspaper reported the outcome as "the third time this summer that the Kent men have been too expert for those of Sussex".Waghorn, ''Dawn of Cricket'', p. 7. The 1728 proclamation of Kent's superiority is the first time that the concept of a "Champion County" can be seen in the sources and it is augmented by a "turned the scales" comment made by a reporter after Sussex defeated Kent in 1729. The 1729 report added that the "scale of victory had been on the Kentish side for some years past". In 1730, a newspaper referred to the "Kentish champions". In his cricket history,
Harry Altham Harry Surtees Altham (30 November 1888 – 11 March 1965) was an English cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket ...
titled his third chapter, which was about cricket in the second quarter of the 18th century, as "Kent, The First Champions". Strong teams played under the name of Kent throughout the 18th century with several famous patrons including Stead,
Robert Colchin Robert "Long Robin" Colchin (1713 – c. 27 April 1750) was a highly influential professionalism, professional English cricketer and match organiser of the mid-Georgian period at a time when the single wicket cricket, single wicket version of ...
("Long Robin"),
Lord John Sackville Lord John Philip Sackville (22 June 1713 – 3 December 1765) was the second son of Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset. He was a keen cricketer who was closely connected with the sport in Kent. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamworth (U ...
, his son John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset and
Sir Horatio Mann Sir Horatio (Horace) Mann, 2nd Baronet (2 February 1744 – 2 April 1814) was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1774 and 1807. He is remembered as a member of the Hambledon Club in Hampshire and a patron of Kent county c ...
organising teams. In July 1739, the strength of Kent as a county team was recognised by the formation of a non-international England team, loosely termed "All-England" or, more accurately, the Rest of England, to play against them. Kent at this time were led by Lord John Sackville and his team won the first All-England match on
Bromley Common Bromley Common is the area of south-east London, within the London Borough of Bromley and the Historic counties of England, historic county of Kent. It lies south of Bromley town centre and Bickley, west of Southborough, Bromley, Southborough an ...
; the return on the
Artillery Ground The Artillery Ground in Finsbury Finsbury is a district of Central London, forming the south-eastern part of the London Borough of Islington. It borders the City of London. The Manorialism, Manor of Finsbury is first recorded as ''Vinisbir ...
was drawn.ACS, ''op. cit.'', p. 20.Maun, ''op. cit.'', pp. 95–96. In 1744, the year in which the ''
Laws of Cricket The ''Laws of Cricket'' is a code which specifies the rules of the game of cricket Cricket is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two oppos ...
'' were first published as a code, Kent met All-England four times. The most famous encounter was the one on Monday, 18 June at the Artillery Ground which was commemorated in a poem by James Love and is the subject of the world's second oldest scorecard. It is also the opening match in ''
Scores and Biographies Arthur Haygarth (4 August 1825 – 1 May 1903) was a noted amateur cricketer who became one of cricket's most significant historians. He played first-class cricket for the Marylebone Cricket Club and Sussex County Cricket Club, Sussex between 18 ...
'' (although this erroneously records the date as 1746). Kent, whose team included both Colchin and Sackville, won the match by one
wicket In cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bai ...

wicket
.ACS, ''op. cit.'', p. 21.Waghorn, ''Cricket Scores'', p. 33.Waghorn, ''Dawn of Cricket'', p. 15 Under the Duke of Dorset and Sir Horatio Mann, Kent continued to field a strong team through the last quarter of the 18th century and were, along with Surrey, the main challengers to
Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a Counties of England, county in South East England on the coast of the English Channel. The county town is Winchester, but the county is named after Southampton. Its two largest cities are Southampton a ...
whose team was organised by the
Hambledon Club The Hambledon Club was a social club that is famous for its organisation of 18th century cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which ...
. Dartford had played against a Hambledon team three times in 1756 and Kent played against Hampshire at
Broadhalfpenny Down 'Broadhalfpenny Down (pronounced /ˌbrɔ:dˈheɪpniː/; '' brawd-HAYP-nee'') is a historic cricket ground in Hambledon, Hampshire. It is known as the "Cradle of Cricket" because it was the home venue in the 18th century of the Hambledon Club, bu ...
in 1768.ACS, ''op. cit.'', p. 23.Waghorn, ''Cricket Scores'', p. 66. Kent played numerous inter-county matches through the 1770s and 1780s, mostly against Hampshire and Surrey. Renowned Kent players in this period included William Bullen, Robert Clifford, Joseph Miller and
John Minshull John Minshull (c.1741 – 23 October 1793), also known as John Minchin, was a famous English cricketer during the 1770s. He scored the first definitely recorded century in cricket. He was born at Acton, London, Acton in Middlesex. According to J ...
. Large crowds were attracted to games in the county and
Derek Birley Sir Derek Birley (31 May 1926 – 14 May 2002) was a distinguished English educationalist and a prize-winning writer on the social history of sport The history of sports extends back to the Ancient world. The physical activity that developed in ...
states in his history that 20,000 gathered at
Bourne Paddock Bourne Paddock was a cricket ground at Bourne Park House, the seat of Sir Horatio Mann, at Bishopsbourne around south-east of Canterbury in the English county of Kent. It was a venue for first-class cricket matches from 1766 to 1790. The ground w ...
for a match against Hampshire in 1772.Birley, ''op. cit.'', p. 37. Kent remained an active county team until 1796 when, probably because of the war situation, county cricket ceased and was not resurrected until 1825 when Kent met Sussex at Brighton's Royal New Ground.Haygarth, ''op. cit.'', p. 514.ACS, ''op. cit.'', p. 33.


19th century

In the 1822 MCC ''versus'' Kent match at
Lord's Lord's Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord's, is a cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch ...
, John Willes of Kent opened the bowling and was no-balled for using a roundarm action, a style he had attempted to introduce since 1807. Willes promptly withdrew from the match and refused to play again in any important fixture. His action proved the catalyst for the so-called "roundarm revolution". By the 1830s Kent sides began to dominate English cricket, winning 98 matches during the period and being declared the leading county side for six seasons out of the seven between 1837 and 1843.Ellis C, Pennell M (2010) ''Trophies and Tribulations'', p.7. London: Greenwich Publishing. . During this period the formation of county sides was initially focussed on Town Malling Cricket Club, backed by lawyers Thomas Selby and Silas Norton alongside William Harris, 2nd Baron Harris.Silas Norton
Famous Local People, The Larkfield Society. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
Birley, ''op. cit.'', pp.79–82. Selby and Norton recruited "the best batsman in England",Birley, ''op. cit.'', p.79.
Fuller Pilch Fuller Pilch (17 March 1803 – 1 May 1870) was an English first-class cricketer. Described as "the greatest batsman ever known until the appearance of W. G. Grace", the right-handed batsman Pilch played 229 first-class matches between 1820 and 1 ...
from Norfolk, to play at Town Malling, maintain the cricket ground and run the connected public house.Denison W (1846) Fuller Pilch, ''Cricket: Sketches of the Players'', pp.64–69. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co.
Available online
Retrieved 2017-12-13).
Alongside other players such as
Alfred Mynn Alfred Mynn (19 January 1807 – 1 November 1861) was an English first-class cricketer during the game's roundarm bowling, "Roundarm Era". He was a genuine all-rounder, being both an attacking right-handed batsman and a formidable right arm fast ...

Alfred Mynn
,
Nicholas Felix Nicholas Wanostrocht (5 October 1804 – 3 September 1876), known as Nicholas Felix, was an English amateur "gentleman" cricketer. He was one of the few players who – at his request – was routinely known by his pseudonym, Felix. When his fa ...

Nicholas Felix
,
Ned Wenman Edward Gower "Ned" Wenman (18 August 1803 – 28 December 1879) was an English first-class cricket, first-class cricketer whose career spanned the 1825 to 1854 seasons. A specialist wicket-keeper, he was a prominent member of the great Kent count ...

Ned Wenman
and
William Hillyer William Richard Hillyer (5 March 1813 – 8 January 1861), was a prominent 19th century English professional cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, ...

William Hillyer
, Kent teams selected by Selby played eleven matches at Town Malling between 1836 and 1841. The expense of running county games meant that Town Malling proved too small to support a county club, despite the large attendances that games attracted, and in 1842 Pilch moved to the Beverley club at Canterbury. Kent struggled against the prominence of
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...
in the early roundarm years but then enjoyed a glorious period in the middle of the century. Rowland Bowen has recorded that a Maidstone newspaper in 1837 described a match between Kent and Nottinghamshire as for the
County Championship The County Championship (referred to as the LV= Insurance County Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the domestic first-class cricket First-class cricket is the highest-standard international or domestic matches in the sport of cri ...
.Bowen, p. 95. This is the earliest known use of the term although the concept of a
Champion County The County Championship (referred to as the LV= Insurance County Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the domestic first-class cricket First-class cricket is the highest-standard international or domestic matches in the sport of cri ...
was much older. Kent was duly proclaimed "Champion County" in 1837 and through most of the 1840s. Mainstays of the Kent team in those years included
Alfred Mynn Alfred Mynn (19 January 1807 – 1 November 1861) was an English first-class cricketer during the game's roundarm bowling, "Roundarm Era". He was a genuine all-rounder, being both an attacking right-handed batsman and a formidable right arm fast ...

Alfred Mynn
,
Fuller Pilch Fuller Pilch (17 March 1803 – 1 May 1870) was an English first-class cricketer. Described as "the greatest batsman ever known until the appearance of W. G. Grace", the right-handed batsman Pilch played 229 first-class matches between 1820 and 1 ...
,
Nicholas Wanostrocht Nicholas Wanostrocht (5 October 1804 – 3 September 1876), known as Nicholas Felix, was an English amateur "gentleman" cricketer. He was one of the few players who – at his request – was routinely known by his pseudonym, Felix. When his fa ...
''aka'' "Felix",
Ned Wenman Edward Gower "Ned" Wenman (18 August 1803 – 28 December 1879) was an English first-class cricket, first-class cricketer whose career spanned the 1825 to 1854 seasons. A specialist wicket-keeper, he was a prominent member of the great Kent count ...

Ned Wenman
and
William Hillyer William Richard Hillyer (5 March 1813 – 8 January 1861), was a prominent 19th century English professional cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, ...

William Hillyer
. On 6 August 1842, formation of the original
Kent County Cricket Club Kent County Cricket Club is one of the eighteen first-class cricket, first-class county cricket, county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the Historic counties of England, historic county of Kent. ...
took place in
Canterbury Canterbury (, ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the heart of the City of Canterbury, a local government district of Kent, England. It lies on the River Stour, Kent, River Stour ...

Canterbury
. The new club played its initial first-class match against All-England at
White Hart Field White Hart Field was a cricket ground in Bromley in south-east London. The ground, which was in the county of Kent until 1965, was on an area of open space and farm land which stretched from Bromley Palace to Widmore Green.
in Bromley on 25–27 August 1842. On 1 March 1859 a second county club was established in Maidstone to support the Canterbury club. The two clubs were amalgamated in 1870 to form the present county club.A brief history
Kent County Cricket Club. Retrieved 2016-02-27.

CricInfo ''ESPN''cricinfo (formerly known as Cricinfo or CricInfo) is a sports news website exclusively for the game of cricket. The site features news, articles, live coverage of cricket matches (including liveblogs and scorecards), and ''StatsGuru'' ...
. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
Marshall I (2015) ''Playfair Cricket Annual 2015'', Machete UK.
Available online
. Retrieved 2016-02-27.


References


Bibliography

* * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * {{English cricket teams in the 18th century History of Kent English cricket teams in the 18th century English cricket in the 19th century Former senior cricket clubs Cricket in Kent