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Monday, April 09, 2007

"A batter of great might" 1773 style

I recently came across this on the free part of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website (unlike its Australian counterpart only a small part of the English one is free).

It's from a biography of Sir Horatio Mann, in his day (the 18th century) a famous English cricketer. An extract:

The only evidence of Mann's skills as a cricketer lies in some lines of doggerel written in 1773 after he had batted in a match between Surrey and Kent:
At last Sir Horace took the field,
A batter of great might,
Moved like a lion, he a while
Put Surrey in a fright.
(Haygarth, 1.10)
Note the use of the word "batter": it is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest recorded use of a term which is now the preferred, non-sexist, one to describe the likes of Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen and Mohammad Ashraful. I'll no longer have any qualms about using it in future posts.

While I'm on Sir Horatio, here's more from his DNB entry:

Mann's twenty-two runs [in the match described above] proved to be his highest known score and only one other innings is recorded. What contemporary fame he had as a player must lie in any achievements in the years preceding 1772 in matches not recorded in Haygarth's
Scores and Biographies. This ‘agreeable, gay and affable’ man (ibid., 1.55) found his chief satisfaction in cricket through his ability to organize, his delight in entertaining, and his compulsion to bet.

Batters and betting on cricket. Some things don't change much.

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