Cricket, arguably more than any other sport, encourages the collection of statistics, as any listener to the BBCâs âTest Match Specialâ knows. Wisden, or The Cricketerâs Almanack, was first published as early as 1864 and has been documenting matches and calculating playersâ averages ever since. The nature of the sport lends itself to the accumulation and analysis of data: not just batting or bowling averages, but also all manner of records â from most runs off an over to the fastest hundred by an Australian in his (or her) debut test in England. The BBCâs first TMS scorers or, better, statisticians, Arthur Wrigley and Bill Frindall, acquired legendary status for their meticulous record keeping and anticipation of records about to be broken.
It is, however, surprising to come across not only a Spanish cricket enthusiast in the late 19th century but one who compiled a book of cricket statistics devoted to an English county. The British Library holds a copy of Anthony BenĂtez de Lugoâs Surrey at the Wicket, which was printed in Madrid at his own expense in 1888. The full title is: Surrey at the wicket. A complete record of all the matches played by the county eleven since the formation of the club. Yearly and general batting and bowling averages with other informations [sic] interesting to Surrey cricketers.
As the title indicates, the work documents the results of all matches played by Surrey, together with batting and bowling averages, year-by-year from 1844 until 1887. Surrey County Cricket Club was officially founded in 1845, but an 1844 match against the M.C.C. is included. Score cards are not included, which is initially confusing as the results tables always show Surrey as if batting first. BenĂtez de Lugo does not mention his sources of information. However, for the period after 1864 he would have had access to Wisden, and before that to press reports and to Frederick Lillywhiteâs publications. The latter may have provided him with details of playersâ height and weight. Most probably he had access to Surreyâs own records and, almost certainly, he kept records himself.
But who was our Spanish cricket enthusiast? He was born Antonio BenĂtez de Lugo y de la Cantera in Havana in 1857 and in 1893 he acquired the title of MarquĂ©s de Santa Susana, bestowed on him by MarĂa Cristina, Regent for Alfonso XIII, in recognition of his aunt Susana BenĂtez de Lugoâs charitable work in Cuba. However, it is not clear how he came to be interested in cricket nor when he began the compilation of statistics.
BenĂtez de Lugo went on to publish two further books of statistics, although sadly neither is in the British Library. The first, The Surrey Champion (1895), documented the career of the Surrey cricketer, Walter Read (1855-1907), who was most noted for a match-saving innings of 117 for England against Australia in 1884 when batting down at number 10. He also provided statistics for Readâs own Annals of Cricket (London, 1896; 07095.k.1), as Read acknowledged in his introduction: âthanks are due to the Marquis de Santa Susana for the exhaustive records of my own doingsâ (p. 3).
His final work, published in 1900, brought Surrey at the Wicket up to date down to 1899. His statistics were also deployed in the extensive Surrey Cricket. Its History and Associations of 1902, as is indicated by the acknowledgement âthe whole of the statistics âŠ are the work of the Marquis de Santa Susanaâ (pp. v.-vi.). He is also described there as âone of the most enthusiastic followers of Surrey cricketâ (p. vi).
There are obvious gaps in this account. Keen followers of Surrey cricket and statisticians are invited to fill them in and to correct any errors.
Geoff West, Former Head of Hispanic Collections
Anthony BenĂtez de Lugo, The Surrey Champion. A complete record of Mr Walter William Readâs performance for Surrey and in representational matches, 1873-1897 (Madrid, 1895). Private circulation. 100 copies.
Anthony BenĂtez de Lugo, A Summary of Surrey Cricket 1844-99. (Madrid, 1900). Private circulation.
The cricketerâs almanack for... 1864 [-1869], then John Wisdenâs cricketersâ almanack forâŠ 1870 [-1937]. (London, 1864-1937). RH.9.x.1533.
Fred Lillywhite, Frederick Lillywhiteâs cricket scores and biographies of celebrated cricketers, from 1746. Vols. 3-4. (London, 1863-64) 7905.de.9.
E. W. Padwick, A bibliography of cricket. 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (London, 1984). British Library HLR 796.358.
Richard Everard Webster, Surrey Cricket. Its history and associations. Ed. Lord Alverstone... and C. W. Alcock. (London, 1902). 07905.i.47.