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This is abrand new publication from a member, David Beaumont called FROM THIRD MAN TO THIRD BASE, if you would like it signed, please ask.
FROM THIRD MAN TO THIRD BASE
The main part of the book relates to a cricket tour undertaken in 1879 to Canada and the United States of America by seven Nottinghamshire and five Yorkshire professional cricketers. They were captained by Richard Daft, the England and Nottinghamshire captain. The information was gleaned from a handwritten ‘lecture’ subsequently given by one of the two persons accompanying the team on this four month journey. The document was discovered in the cricket library at Trent Bridge. Further research found day to day detail sent by ‘our special correspondent’ to the local Nottingham newspaper. The journey moves from Liverpool to Quebec through eventually to the famous cricket grounds in Philadelphia. Visits to Niagara Falls and New York are well recorded.
Permission was obtained from the owners of the Wisden Cricketers Almanack to include details of the twelve cricketers as they were seen in 1879 and also their individual obituaries as they were recorded in the various yearly productions.
The author also looks at the effects of the tour on cricket in this country and in Canada and the United States. There was even a request by letter from Annie Oakley who was with Buffalo Bill, to hold a stagecoach race on Trent Bridge.
There are many interesting twists and turns during the whole tour. Only one match was lost and that was against a team of Baseball professionals – the game was however Baseball!
All scorecards for the tour have been checked and recorded and many of the photographs within the book have not been published before.
The foreword has been written by Peter Wynne-Thomas, the famous cricket historian, who asks the question of what would have happened if the United States had been invited to join the Imperial Cricket Conference instead of the West Indies? An interesting thought.
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Official ACS review...
Third Man to Third Base
By David Beaumont with an introduction by Peter Wynne-Thomas, self-published, paperback, pp 259, £9.99 + £2.50p postage. Cheque payable to D.J. Beaumont – 15 Ton Lane, Lowdham, Nottingham NG14 7AS
By the late 1870s the principle of the cricket tour by English sides overseas was a fairly established one, although the notion of reciprocal tours was only just starting to catch up. There had been several tours of North America by both professional and amateur sides, including the inaugural tour in 1859 and Fitzgerald’s in 1872. But while these tours have been recorded for posterity (The English Cricketers’ tour of Canada and the United States, Wickets in the West), no book has previously been written on Richard Daft’s tour of North America in 1879, so far as I am aware, although scores of all the matches are in Wisden and in volume sixteen of Scores and Biographies, and Lillywhite’s Annual has a leading article devoted to the tour as well as scores of most of the matches. (Curiously Lillywhite’s Companion gives it only two pages at the end of the book.)
The side, consisting of seven professionals from Notts and five from Yorkshire, under the captaincy of Richard Daft, played twelve matches against local sides in Canada and the United States, mostly against odds, and a final eleven-a-side match pitting the Notts and Yorkshire contingents against one another with the assistance of players from Philadelphia. It seems to be universally acknowledged that it was a happy and harmonious tour, the players and particularly the captain being popular wherever they went, and behaving as the ambassadors for the game and for the country that they were. Although they were all professionals – and indeed turned in a healthy profit on the tour – it is stated repeatedly that they were ‘gentlemen’, the term being used as a descriptor rather than an indication of social class.
The centrepiece of the book is a tour ‘diary’ found in the Nottinghamshire archive during a recent inventory, which turns out to be a series of dispatches for the Nottingham Journal by Edwin Browne, a journalist who was also assistant secretary of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and who accompanied the side throughout. His accounts of the play, and the text of a lecture on the tour in January 1880, form the bulk of the book. He is a well-informed observer and his analysis of the play in often shrewd, particularly with regard to the hosts. During a match in Syracuse, he notes that ‘several batsmen played at the ball as if they were playing baseball with a cross bat’, while in Detroit, his comments have a modern resonance: ‘The complaint spectators made was that the game of cricket is slow. They like plenty of big hits; and do not understand the scientific game.’ He is also amused by the efforts of the local press to understand the intricacies of the game –’Bayley’s over was a virgin’ being one of his favourite examples of these struggles.
As well as cricket there is also plenty of travel writing, reflecting on the nature of the nations Browne was visiting. He waxes lyrical on Niagara Falls, venturing into theology in his response to the scene. Some of his comments are very much of his time, for example some observations on the attitudes of Irish-Americans towards England, or an account of a journey in a carriage with some comments on the driver that would now be considered racist, although there is nothing malicious in his words. As indicated above, he can be a perceptive observer, and correctly predicts that one day Canada would cease to be a British colony and would become an independent nation, rather than part of the United States. On the other hand, his confident assertion of the imminent collapse of baseball, for which he displays not a little contempt, has proven with hindsight to be somewhat wide of the mark.
This is a lively, vivid and enjoyable account of a long-forgotten tour, thoughtfully assembled and edited (albeit with the occasional typo)by a member of the Nottinghamshire General Committee, David Beaumont, and its appearance in book form is most welcome.