History of Cricket
The history of cricket in the city of Winchester closely mirrors the changes in its evolution. At the time that Robert Matthew wrote his poem in 1647 which refers to Winchester’s College
pupils playing on St Catherine’s Hill, it was a casual sport played by boys.
By the 1770s, Winchester was regularly fielding adult cricket teams: it is recorded that in 1774 Winchester refused to allow Bishop’s Waltham to finish a match on Twyford Down although only six runs were needed. Rather than throw the match away, the Waltham players stayed overnight and subsequently warned other teams against playing such unreasonable opponents.
In 1796 we know that a match took place between the tradesmen of Winchester and the tradesmen of Southampton, marking the shift in the game from a children’s game to an adult’s sport, popular with working men. Another match between local tradesmen was recorded in 1856 at Oliver’s Battery when a team representing the town north of the High Street played against another from the south side.
As the game became more popular, its following among the gentry grew and this is reflected in the number of Winchester College pupils who rose to prominence in the sport. We take
a look at some of these noted players…