135 years ago, with a First-class game ending early, Gloucestershire cricketers armed with broomsticks took on a local team with normal bats. Arunabha Sengupta revisits that singular day in cricket history.
A century and a bit before Harry Potter zoomed over the Quiddich pitch on his Nimbus 2000, broomsticks had been used to play cricket – in real life and by a bunch of First-class cricketers. The cricketers did not fly, but their feat was no less remarkable.
At the College Ground, Cheltenham, the visiting Nottinghamshire team had started the 3rd and final day at a comfortable 69 for two in their second innings. But, the Australian import, Billy Midwinter had Arthur Shrewsbury stumped almost as soon as play commenced. And then, the great WG Grace, who had scored only 17 in Gloucestershire’s innings, ran through rest of the side, finishing with eight second innings wickets, making it 17 for the match. The visitors could manage only 79, and suffered defeat by an innings and 45 runs.
That freed up almost the entire day.
After a brief discussion, a unique match was organised. A local Cheltenham XI took on the Gloucestershire team. To compensate for the difference in ability, the Gloucestershire men agreed to bat with broomsticks!
The First-class side batted first. EM Grace scored 103 and Midwinter 58 – all with broomsticks! The innings amounted to 290.
When time ran out, Cheltenham XI batsmen had progressed to 50 for two in reply.
Incidentally, this was not the first time that a broomstick had been used in a cricket match.
Three years before that, in August, 1874, the same College Ground of Cheltenham had witnessed WG Grace bat with an ordinary looking one in a friendly game against F. Townsend’s XI. He had managed a score of 35 – the second highest of the match.
(Arunabha Sengupta is trained from Indian Statistical Institute as a Statistician. He works as a Process Consultant, but purifies the soul through writing and cricket, often mixing the two into a cleansing cocktail. The author of three novels, he currently resides in the incredibly beautiful, but sadly cricket-ignorant, country of Switzerland. You can know more about him from his author site, his cricket blogs and by following him on Twitter)