The rules weren't changed for another year or so and bowling in our game would have been either underarm or roundarm - a sort of half-way house which ironically is now the illegal form!The watershed was reached on 26 August 1862 at The Oval when Surrey hosted All-England. The England bowler Edgar Willsher deliberately bowled overarm and was no-balled six times in succession by umpire John Lillywhite, ironically the son of William Lillywhite, the famous bowler who had done so much to have roundarm legalised in 1835.In what was surely a pre-rehearsed demonstration, Willsher and the other eight professionals in the England team staged a walkoff, leaving their two amateur colleagues looking non-plussed in the middle. Play continued next day, but Lillywhite diplomatically withdrew and was replaced by another umpire.
So our Yelf connection was stepping into a match against some pretty big names at a time of ferment and change and would, ironically, be up against John Lillywhite, the unfortunate umpire of the Surrey Oval match. William Richard Yelf was a keen local cricketer and ran Yelf & Sons Printers at Newport following the unfortunate demise of his father William Wheeler Yelf. William Wheeler had died in Millbank prison after being convicted of stealing thousands of pounds from the IOW Savings Bank, but it's probably fair to assume William Richard Yelf had put that awkward fact behind him and that he was eager to join the other 21 local players facing up to the All-England Xl. That's right.... against lesser teams the All-England side would allow them a 2 to 1 advantage and William Richard found himself batting at number 14!
William was probably more of a bowler as he was one of the six Isle of Wight bowlers on the day. And this shows another diference to the modern game in the number of balls in an over - at this time it was just four balls so for his six overs William delivered just 24 balls, but his figures were very good with two wickets for 12 runs. Mr Ede went for a duck whilst William also took the wicket of the unfortunate John Lillywhite for 4 runs!
|John Wisden - Scourge of Yelf batsmen|
Isle of Wight were all out for 139 and the England team decided to put them straight in to bat again with predictable results. The Isle of Wight were skittled out for 99 runs with William Richard Yelf only managing two runs before he was caught by John Lillywhite, who thus gained his revenge!
The match might have been scheduled for three days but I'm not sure the Isle of Wight managed the distance...
|England's 1859 touring team of America - practice for the IoW|