Why Hambledon’s ‘cradle of cricket’ is hosting a special game on New Year’s Day 2022

Hambledon Cricket Club will host a special New Year’s Day game to kickstart the 250th anniversary of first class cricket in England.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 2:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 3:12 pm
Broadhalfpenny Down cricket ground, Hambledon, will host a game on New Year's Day 2022 - 250 years after the inaugural first class game was held there. Picture: Graham Moir.
Broadhalfpenny Down cricket ground, Hambledon, will host a game on New Year's Day 2022 - 250 years after the inaugural first class game was held there. Picture: Graham Moir.

Broadhalfpenny Down, the home of the Hambledon club known as the ‘cradle of cricket’, was the setting of the inaugural first class match in June 1772 between Hampshire and an All-England team.

In the 18th century the Hambledon club was the acknowledged authority on the Laws of Cricket, and responsible for the development of new techniques and the laws of cricket. These varied from the addition of a third stump to the size of the bat.

On January 1, 2022, Broadhalfpenny Brigands will take on the Hampshire Huskies, an invitational team of local club cricketers and enthusiasts.

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Flashback to January 1, 2000, and a charity game at Broadhalfpenny Down - only the second occasion where cricket had been played on the ground on New Year's Day.

Brigands chairman Nick Harris said: ‘This is set to be another memorable occasion for the Brigands whose members have enjoyed the privilege of playing on Broadhalfpenny Down and preparing its wickets since 1959.’

Hampshire Cricket Chief Executive, David Mann said: ‘We are proud that this significant moment in the history of our game took place in Hampshire, at a special ground in Hambledon.

‘The New Year’s Day match will be a great start to what I’m sure will be a memorable year of celebrations and as a club we’re delighted to be able to support.’

It will be only the third time that the ground has seen play on New Year's Day.

In 1929 a charity match was played between the Hampshire Eskimos and The Invalids Cricket Club, a club founded in 1919 for players wounded in the First World War.

Ex-Sergeant Major Newland, fondly known as Picolo Jim, climbed on top of the monument and beckoned the players to the field to start the match.

The game, which was interrupted by the Hampshire Hunt, was a cold and low scoring affair with The Invalids scoring 89 all out and the Eskimos making just 78 in reply.

It was so bitter and cold that as soon as the last wicket fell the players went straight to the Bat and Ball and drunk the pub dry.

At the turn of the millennium, Hambledon CC arranged a match commencing at the stroke of midnight using car headlights to light the ground. Play was then halted due to bad light and resumed later in the day when daylight illuminated the proceedings.

An Adie Aymes Benefit Invitation XI beat a Hambledon team by two wickets.