CRICKET is often thought of as the quintessential sport of gentlemen, where manners and good sportsmanship go hand in hand with off-breaks and stumpings.
But a new painting of one of Sudbury Cricket Club’s most bizarre matches is helping to shed light on a lost chapter in its history.
The watercolour shows town freemen confronting cricketers during a Sudbury versus Stoke-by-Nayland match on Sudbury’s common land meadows in 1865.
The freemen were angry at not having been asked to use the land, and ordered the players from the pitch.
The painting is by local artist Neil Jacobs and will be included in Tales from the Dew Drop Inn, a book by retired journalist Alan Cocksedge marking Sudbury Cricket Club’s 225th anniversary next year.
Mr Cocksedge said: “The cricket clubs had both heard about the game being cancelled but they have never been able to establish the facts behind why.
“I have been looking into it for 25 years – it is not in any of the Suffolk records but it was for some reason reported in the Essex Standard.”
In a final attempt to piece the story together, Mr Cocksedge contacted 91-year-old Colchester-based Sudbury historian Alan Berry, who was related to one of the rioting freemen.
“As a last throw of the dice, I contacted Mr Berry and he couldn’t recall it, said Mr Cocksedge. “But three weeks later he rang back with all the details and from that we were able to reconstruct the story.”
Mr Cocksedge’s book will be on sale at Sudbury’s Tourist Information Centre in two weeks’ time.