Seventy-One Not Out
Author: William Caffyn
Publisher: William Blackwood & Sons
Rating: 3.5 stars
By Archie Mac
08 Nov 2007
Seventy-One Not Out was one of the first cricket biographies written by a cricketing star, and William Caffyn was a true star. Playing for Surrey (he was known as the 'Surrey Pet') and the 'All England Eleven.' He also played in a number of single wicket matches that were popular at the time, on one occasion famously defeating XI of Winchester single-handly, the scores: W. Caffyn 35 & 1 defeated the XI of Winchester 4 & 4. (Caffyn was given two fieldsman).
William Caffyn was also a member of the inaugural English cricket tour of the USA, and a member of the first two English cricket tours of Australia.
After the second tour of Australia, Caffyn remained in Australia coaching in both Melbourne and Sydney, and had a great influence on a number of cricketers including the young Charles Bannermann.
The cricket as played in Caffyn's time is almost a different game compared to that played now; underarm bowling side by side with roundarm and overarm bowling, no Test matches, and even the county game was an ad hoc competition with counties playing infrequently and players turning out for a more than one county a season.
The biggest show in the world of cricket was the 'All England Eleven' a team that would traverse the country and play local teams made up of 22 players. Often these local sides would be 'given' a professional player or two. These must have been very enervating encounters, with 22 players in the field and all hits having to be run out, regardless of how far the ball was hit. Add to this a congested itinerary which often required the team travelling all night to reach their next destination.
The 'All England Eleven' was created and managed by William Clarke a former bricklayer and founder of the Trent Bridge cricket ground. Clarke was a one eyed portly underarm bowler, with a rather surly disposition. In 1855 Caffyn left the 'All England Eleven' and joined there recently created competitor 'The United All England Eleven', the reason; "not being altogether satisfied with the way poor Old Clarke had treated me, I severed my connection".
Things were certainly different during Caffyn's playing days, for instance there was a call by the newspapers in 1856 to increase the size of the stumps, as it was felt the bat had become too dominant over the ball; the highest batting average of the season belonged to John Lillywhite with an average of 24!
Fascinating read this book, the old time stars of the 1850s and 60s brought to life, by one of their own. The title is a reference to the authors age, he finishes; "I hope I shall be able to continue my innings for some time to come, and perhaps even may be permitted to complete my century". Close, but the umpire shot him out in the nineties.
It was quite common practice in these days before radio, TV or internet, to publish a large catalogue in the back of books, while perusing said catalogue (yes I like to read every page), I found this;
Ranjitsinhji; The Jubilee Book of Cricket, Edition De Luxe. Limited to 350 copies signed by Prince Ranjitsinhji. Price ₤5, 5s net. Alas there is no order form!