Monday, 7 February 2011

Cricket in Old Buckenham

Digging out the 'facts'
A recent comment on something posted on this blog a couple of years ago queried the often quoted fact that the soil for the Old Buckenham cricket pitch came all the way from Australia.
The following is taken from an article on village cricket in the 'Sporting life' booklet in a series on the history of Old Buckenham. But of course if you know better...

The first record of cricket being played at Old Buckenham is in 1817 when the local newspaper reported that several persons who had long resisted the threats and entreaties of the inhabitants were convicted before a magistrate at Larlingford and fined for playing cricket on Sunday October 2nd on Old Buckenham Green. Odd references to cricket appear in the press in the following years but the earliest recorded match is that against Attleborough in 1865 which Old Buckenham won.
In 1906, however, cricket in Old Buckenham became of great importance for in this year a Lionel Robinson, an immensely wealthy Australian stockbroker from Melbourne who had offices in London, bought the Old Buckenham Hall estate from Prince Frederick Duleep Singh (whose guardian in this country was none other than Queen Victoria). This was a factor which must have brought Lionel Robinson to the notice of the top social circles to which he aspired. He had a passion for cricket and in addition to rebuilding Buckenham Hall in an extravagant style, he erected splendid stables for a racing stud and sought to create a first class•cricket ground in the middle of his shooting estates.
Robinson‘s cricket ground was specially and scientifically constructed with clay from a lake on the estate. The clay was bound together with chickenwire netting and covered with fine turf specially imported from Australia. He aimed to create a cricket square as fast as those common in Australia and to stage first class cricket matches upon it. He employed a Archie MacIaren, a famous county gentleman cricketer and former English captain before the First World War, as his cricketing manager and provided him with a house on the estate. Archie was also a well known cricket correspondent for the press and particularly in the specialist 'Cricketer' magazine. At Old Buckenham he set about the task of developing cricket of the highest order.

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