TODAY the setting is inconceivable but a historic cricket match was once played on the site of a present Southampton estate.

The ancient hamlet of Woolston was the setting of a game between what was euphemistically called Hampshire and the powerful All England team who remarkably included one player each destined to leave an indelible mark on the game at national and international level.

One was Sir Frederick Bathurst who helped finance the county’s first official ground and the other was John Wisden, founder of the world famous cricketers almanac.

The result was an inevitability. Though Hampshire were generously permitted to field 14 players, England strolled home by nine wickets.

“Not all that surprising when it is known that scarcely 11 better players could be picked from the whole of the public men and that Hampshire men had scarcely ever played together before,” wrote one observer of the two day encounter that enriched Day’s Ground on August 22, 1850.

“Their play, however, was admirable, and if, from the superior fielding of their opponents, they were unable to mark a larger score, it was not through bad play or want of exertion.”

However, one factor that bedevil cricket over the years has not changed - rain!

The game had attracted a large crowd who on the first morning had to endure a lengthy wait for play to start and at times forced to dash for cover as storm clouds gathered overhead.

“The squals were so sudden and severe that play was discontinued and resumed at intervals,” it was reported in the Hampshire and Southampton County Paper. “After dinner, however, at half past two o’clock the weather moderated and play commenced in good earnest, interrupted only by showers.”

Who won the toss is unknown but Hampshire batted first, accumulating a modest 74 with only three batsmen reaching double figures, one apparently playing “very steadily” and another making “a splendid straight hit for four.”

However it was the national team’s fielding that brought rapturous applause which “excited the admiration of the lovers of the noble game.”

England’s openers, Guy and Vernon quickly took command, virtually overhauling Hampshire before the first wicket fell. Then came an extraordinary collapse with the next seven batsmen only contributing nine between them before a respectable last wicket stand took England to 131.

Hampshire sadly fared even worse in their second innings, dismissed for a paltry 57 but with the scores tied, they were spared the ignomy of being thrashed by an innings.

But England suffered the embarrassment of losing a wicket before getting the solitary single with Bathurst bowling Clarke middle stump first ball.

The baronet was one of the most famous early cricketers to be associated with Hampshire. A righ handed batsmen who bowled right arm medium pace, he played for the country from 1842-1861 as well as the MCC between 1827-1855.

His batting was moderate as an average of 5.92 would testify but he took 349 wickets, includig ten in a match eight times.

Together with Thomas Chamberlayne and Sir John Barber-Mill, he developed of Antelope Ground, Hampshire’s first major venue.

However his next ball to Wisden yielded the winning run.

Wisden played 187 first class matches, 185 for Sussex and one each for Middlesex and Kent, and featured in the England team that toured the USA and Canada in 1859. However, he will be forever remembered for the cricketers bible which he launched in 1864 a year after his retirement.