Cricket in Robertsbridge
|With the parish name Salehurst
probably derived from Salix Hurst, willow wood, it is perhaps
not surprising that Robertsbridge has played, and continues to play,
a prominent role in the history of cricket.
Nicolls bat factory in
the High Street.
Photo courtesy of Mrs
| In 1876,
L.J. Nicolls started making bats
his workshop in Robertsbridge and supplied WG Grace with
his record-breaking bat with which he scored his 100th century and
made 1000 runs in May 1894. He was the first to introduce the
Gray and Sons was founded in
by world rackets champion H.J. Gray in 1855 and built a reputation
supplying rackets to University players such as Ranjitsinjhi and the
future King Edward VII.
Gray-Nicolls was formed in the 1940's by the merger of H.J.Gray and
Sons, and L.J. Nicolls. At this time the company also acquired the
famous brands of Shaw and
and Wainwrights. The company is still owned and controlled by the
Gray family and the cricket bat factory is still based in
The brand went from strength to strength in the
1950's and 60's and at one stage the captains of all 5 test playing
countries (Ted Dexter, Richie Benaud, Frank Worrell, John Reid,
Trevor Goddard) all used Gray-Nicolls bats.
Major innovations have included the revolutionary "Steel
Spring" and the first shoulderless "Superlite" bat.
In the 1970's Gray-Nicolls were the first to introduce coloured labels
and the trend-setting Red Flash was used by top
Cricketers including the Chappell brothers, Clive Lloyd, Tony Greig
and Barry Richards. In 1974 the company broke new ground with the
introduction of the revolutionary scoop bat.
factory was opened in
to supply the growing demand from the Australian and New Zealand
markets and expansion in the 1980's and 1990's meant Gray-Nicolls
had to move to larger premises in Robertsbridge. New innovations
included the Dynadrive, Sabre and Millennium bats. Famous names such
as David Gower, Robin Smith, David Boon, Javed Miandad, Sunil
Gavaskar and Jeff Dujon used Gray-Nicolls and Brian Lara scored the
highest ever first class (501) innings with the Scoop 2000.
new Millennium saw the introduction of the unique Carbon &
Titanium handles. . More runs were scored with Gray-Nicolls bats
than any other brand in the 2003 World Cup.
village also produced a County class cricketer, Leslie
Waghorn, who played 1st class cricket for Sussex CC and the MCC
between 1926 and 1928
Right: Wilfred Barnes and
make their way to the wicket.
Photo courtesy of Mrs Jean Woodgate
Robertsbridge cricket in the 21st Century
celebrated its centenary in 1987 and is still thriving and cricket
in the 21st Century continues to play a prominent part in
Robertsbridge village life. The village Cricket Club (Robertsbridge
Cricket club )
plays both competitive and recreational cricket throughout
the summer! Competitions such as the infamous Cooper Cup
6-a-side competition played each July and August
display some of the finest amateur cricket for miles around.
Complemented by a busy social calendar, days like the Cooper
Cup Finals Day and President's vs. Chairman's XI - a
Robertsbridge Cricket Club institution - are ideal examples
of the invaluable and beneficial relationship between
competitive cricket and a vibrant village community!
photos above are courtesy of Paul Brett
For more information visit the
Gray-Nicolls web site. Also, see the history of the
cricket bat factory written by Dorothy Martin MBE. I am indebted
to the Martin family for allowing me to reproduce this here.