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However, as two rare items from the Leslie Gutteridge cricket library, sold by Lawrences of Crewkerne on January 14 demonstrate, ’twas not always so.

There was a time – in the 18th and early 19th century century and before the county cricket system really came into being – when Kent cricket ruled, and crowds gathered in much greater numbers to see them take on not just other county or club sides, but teams representing all-England.

In 1772, it is claimed, 20,000 supporters invaded Sir Horace Mann’s Bourne Park estate at Bishopsbourne, a village just a few miles outside Canterbury, to watch Kent take on the men of the famous Hambledon club.

So high was Kent’s standing that in 1773 John Duncombe wrote Surry Triumphant: or, the Kentish Mens Defeat. A New Ballad. Being a Parody upon Chevy-Chace, seen above, presumably to celebrate an unexpected victory over the team of the century. Later that year came the riposte. A Canterbury printer, T. Smith & Son, was employed to print John Burnby’s The Kentish Cricketers: A Poem, By a Gentleman. Being a Reply to a late Publication of a Parody on the Ballad of Chevy Chace.

Many lots in the Gutteridge sale were contested by two very determined collectors who forced prices way beyond any normal levels, but for these two rare poems bound in full morocco gilt they were either not interested or bettered by others.

Surry Triumphant... reached £3000, but the Kentish Cricketers was bid by a Kent collector (who apparently already has a copy of the Surrey poem) up to £9800.