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Edward "Lumpy" Stevens (1735 – 7 September 1819) was an English professional cricketer who played first-class cricket from around 1756 to 1789. He was an outstanding bowler (cricket), bowler who is generally regarded as the first great bowler in the game's history. He was universally known by his nickname and was always called "Lumpy" in contemporary scorecards and reports.


Cricket career

Stevens was born in 1735 at Send, Surrey. The beginning of Stevens' career was before scorecards began to be kept on a regular basis. Stevens probably began playing in great matches around the mid-1750s at a time when bowlers still bowled (i.e., trundled) the ball all along the ground, as in crown green bowls. It is not known if Stevens was the first to "give the ball air" but he was certainly around when that particular revolution occurred, probably before 1770. What is known is that Stevens was the bowler who made the most careful study of flight and worked out all the implications of variations in pace, length and direction mentioned above. He became a master of his craft. Unlike the Hambledon Club, Hambledon players who tended to represent their club only, Stevens made appearances for just about every team, including Hambledon. He is normally associated with Surrey county cricket teams, Surrey teams in general and with the famous Chertsey Cricket Club, Chertsey club in particular. He continued as a player until he was 50 and played his last match on 2–5 September 1789 for All-England Eleven, All-England v Hampshire county cricket teams, Hampshire at Vine Cricket Ground, Sevenoaks Vine. It is not known what took place in his career following this game, but John Major suspected that Stevens enlisted in the British Army: on 20 May 1793 a letter signed by 'A Kentish Cricketer' written to ''Sporting Magazine'' describes an incident where an Ensign Hamilton, a member of the Sevenoaks Vine Club, had a cannonball deflected away from his head by a Sergeant. The magazine and the ''Maidstone Journal'' both linked the story to Stevens.


Style and technique

How he came by his legendary nickname is uncertain but it may have been because he was adept at choosing a pitch to suit his very subtle variations of pace, length and direction. In the 18th century, choice of pitch was granted to one team according to the rules ''in situ'' and it was generally the leading bowler on that team who chose the place where the wickets would be pitched. According to the famous verse: ::''For honest Lumpy did allow'' ::''He ne'er would pitch but o'er a brow''Arthur Haygarth, ''Scores & Biographies'', Volume 1 (1744–1826), Lillywhite, 1862.


Family and personal life

Stevens was a gardener by trade and his bowling prowess earned him a job on the Walton-on-Thames estate of the Charles Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville, Earl of Tankerville, a noted patron of the game.


Legacy

It is known that in a single wicket match on 22–23 May 1775, Stevens beat the great Hambledon Club, Hambledon batsman John Small (Hambledon cricketer), John Small three times with the ball going ''through'' the two stump wicket of the day. As a result of his protests, the patrons agreed that a third stump should be added.


References


Bibliography

* Harry Altham, ''A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914)'', George Allen & Unwin, 1926. * Derek Birley, ''A Social History of English Cricket'', Aurum, 1999. * Rowland Bowen, ''Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development'', Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970. * G. B. Buckley, ''Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket'', Cotterell, 1935. * David Frith, ''The Fast Men'', Van Nostrand Rheinhold, 1975. * Arthur Haygarth, ''Scores & Biographies'', Volume 1 (1744–1826), Lillywhite, 1862. * Ashley Mote, ''The Glory Days of Cricket'', Robson, 1997. * John Nyren, ''The Cricketers of my Time'' (ed. Ashley Mote), Robson, 1998. * David Underdown, ''Start of Play'', Allen Lane, 2000. * H. T. Waghorn, ''Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730–1773)'', Blackwood, 1899. * H. T. Waghorn, ''The Dawn of Cricket'', Electric Press, 1906. {{DEFAULTSORT:Stevens, Lumpy 1735 births 1819 deaths Chertsey cricketers English cricketers of 1701 to 1786 English cricketers of 1787 to 1825 Hambledon cricketers Hampshire cricketers Kent cricketers Non-international England cricketers Surrey cricketers West Kent cricketers White Conduit Club cricketers