Honouring A Contractual Agreement

England are set to play the West Indians in two T20 matches at the Duke of Cornwall’s ground at the Kennington Oval.  They are a by-blow from the Allan Stanford fiasco. Enough said. The first takes place tonight.

This is not the only example of games being played to honour a contract.

Perhaps the earliest such engagement for which evidence survives was contracted between the Squire’s great rival, His Grace the 2nd Duke of Richmond and another of his great rivals, Mr Alan Brodick (shortly afterwards the 2nd Viscount Midleton) and his likeness is well attempted here.

Although a black helicopter was not present when the agreement was struck on the 11th July 1727, a prototype of the Type I time-machine betrayed the presence of the Squire, acting as an honest broker.

Incidentally, Third Man was also there but in his mother’s arms (she was providing the Quality with refreshments) suitably teething on a bail. 

The Squire’s personal and annotated copy of the Articles of Agreement can be found in the Great Library with one or two stains and creases that can be accounted for by its use as a distraction for the infant on the unaccountably long journey home.  The prototype lacked the efficiency of later versions.

From memory, the Articles were as follows:

Imprimis: ‘Tis by the aforesaid Parties agreed that the first Match shall be played some day or this instant July in the county of Surrey; the Place to be named by Mr Brodrick, the second match to be played in August next and in the County of Sussex, the Place to be named by the Duke of Richmond.

2nd: That the wickets shall be pitched in a fair and even place, at 23 yards from each other.

3rd: A ball caught, cloathed or not cloathed the Striker is out.

4th: When a Ball is caught out, the Stroke counts nothing.

5th: Catching out behind the Wicket allowed.

6th: That ’tis lawful for the Duke of Richmond to choose the Gamesters, who have played in either of his Grace’s two last matches with Sir William Gage; and that ’tis lawful for Mr Brodrick to choose the Gamesters within three miles of Pepperharowe, provided they actually lived there last Lady day.

7th: That 12 Gamesters shall play on each side.

8th: That the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick shall determine the Ball or Balls to be played with.

9th: If any of the Gamesters shall be taken lame or sick after the match is begun, their places may be supplied by any One chose comformably to the Sixth Article, or in Case that not be done, the other side shall be obliged to leave out one of their Gamesters, whomsoever they please.

10th: That each Match shall be for twelve guineas of each Side; between the Duke and Mr Brodrick.

11th: That there shall be one Umpire of each Side; and that if any of the Gamesters shall speak or give their opinion, on any point of the Game, they are to be turned out and voided in the Match. This not to extend to the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick.

12th If any Doubt or Dispute arises on any of the aforementioned articles, or whatever else is not settled therein, it shall be determined by the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick on their Honours; by whom the Umpires are likewise to be determined on any Difference between them.

13th: The Duke of Richmond’s Umpire shall pitch the Wickets when they play inSussex; and Mr Brodrick’s when they play inSurrey; and Each of Them shall be obliged to conform himself strictly to the Agreements strictly contained in the said Article.

14th: The Batt Men for every One they count are to touch the Umpires Stick.

15th: That it shall not be lawfull to fling down the wickets, and that no Player shall be deemed out by any wicket put down, unless with the Ball in Hand.

16th: That both the Matches shall be played upon, and determined by these Articles.

Third Man cannot help but think that these Articles could have been improved with the addition of a clause providing for two super overs in the event of a tie.

The first match was played in July at Brodick’s place, Peper Harow, hard by Godalming and pictured at the head of this post, the second in August at Godalming.

From only a slightly later time, here is a cricket match being played at Moulsey Hurst

Learned readers will already have noted that no Article in the Agreement exists to allocate the broadcasting rights which explains why Third Man is not at liberty to report the results of these matches which must remain a frustrating mystery to time-tied archivists.


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