Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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166                                     THE NONPAREIL                                 chap.
The Prince's ground stood partly on the Level as it now is, and partly on Park Crescent. In 1823, it became Ireland's Gardens, upon whose turf the most famous cricketers of England played until 1847. In 1848 the Brunswick ground at Hove was opened, close to the sea, into which the ball was occasionally hit by Mr. C. I. Thornton. The present Hove ground dates from 1871. I like to think that George IV., though no great cricketer himself (he played now and then when young " with great condescension and affability "), is the true father of Sussex cricket. He may deserve all that Lamb, Leigh Hunt, and Thackeray said of him, but without his influence and patronage the history of cricket would be the poorer by many bright pages.
Where Montpellier Crescent now stands, was, eighty years ago, the ground on which Frederick William Lillywhite, the Nonpareil, used to bowl to gentlemen young or old who were prepared to put down five shillings for the privilege. Little Wisden acted as a long stop. Lillywhite was the real creator of round-arm bowling, although Tom Walker of the Hambledon Club was the pioneer and James Broadbridge an earlier exponent. It was not until 1828 that round-arm was legalised. 11 Me bowling, Pilch batting, and Box keeping wicket—that's cricket," was the old man's dictum : or " When I bowls and Fuller bats," a variant has it, bowl being pronounced to rhyme with owl, " then you'll see cricket." He was thirty-five before he began his first-class career, he bowled fewer than a dozen wides in twenty-seven years, and his myriad wickets cost only seven runs a-piece.
Brighton in its palmiest days was practically contained within the streets that bear boundary names, North Street, East Street, West Street, and the sea, with the parish church high on the hill. On the other side of the Steyne were the naked Downs, while the Lewes road and the London Road were mere thoroughfares between equally bare hills, with a few houses here and there.
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