Sporting altercation just was not cricket

AN AUTHOR has unearthed the definitive report of a notorious cricket match that took place in a west Suffolk market town almost 150 years ago and is considered a key milestone in the town’s past.

Writer Alan Cocksedge discovered details of the game played in Sudbury in 1865 that almost descended into a riot whilst researching a book on the history of Sudbury Cricket Club – due to be published in October.

The match, which was played on Great Common, part of Sudbury’s Common Lands, has gone down in Sudbury folklore after freemen and cattle herders broke up the game in protest against people playing on land they owned. Prior to Mr Cocksedge’s breakthrough, full details of the incident had been lost.

Mr Cocksedge, a former East Anglian Daily Times journalist, made his finding after contacting 91-year old Sudbury historian Alan Berry, who had a newspaper report of the event from an old copy of the Essex Standard buried in his archives.

The report from July 1 1865 gives details of the match and offers an interesting insight into social attitudes of the time.

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It gives an account of the match between cricketers from Sudbury and Stoke, which was interrupted by freemen who “kept walking across and between the wicket”.

We are also told that the cricketers “not wishing to have an unseemly altercation or disturbance with such a class of men did not persist in the game”.

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A later report from another local newspaper, dated August 10, states that “it really was a most infamous thing that half a dozen discontented cow keepers, with perhaps two or three disaffected freemen, should bring so much discredit to the town”.

Mr Cocksedge, who has commissioned a watercolour painting of the incident for the front cover of his forthcoming book, said: “This finding is important because it is an iconic moment in the history of Sudbury Cricket Club and the Common Lands.

“I’ve been digging around for this evidence for 25 years and it was incredibly satisfying to have finally found it.”

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