Some Cricket Archaeology

For Christmas my wife got me a set of vintage cricket stumps. While she discovered these in Brisbane, Australia (owned by a member of the Queensland Cricketers’ Club), they have a known provenience to near Surrey, England and date to the first decade and a half of the 20th century (if not a bit earlier). Apparently the stumps are made of hickory. They are regulation height (28 inches) and diameter (1 3/8). They flair out slightly toward the base.


They each have a brass cap on the top of the stump protecting the slot where the bails sat and providing a surface for them to be driven into the ground. A small brass pin secured each cap, but on this set only one pin remains. The brass caps show signs of regular pounding and the distortion of the caps matches the distortion of the hard wood at the top of the stump suggesting that these caps and stumps had been together for significant use.


The bottom of the stumps are a bit unusual in my limited knowledge. There is no evidence that they had brass tips on them to protect the end of the stumps from moisture or other damage when they were driven into the ground. There is no evidence for pins on other clamps. In contrast to the relatively elegant flaring of the shafts, the tips look pretty crude and irregular There might even be a bit of evidence for retouching of the points.



Also curious was a series of semi-circular burn or clamp(?) marks on the shafts of the stumps. They are visible on the bottom stump in the first photograph and below. My working hypothesis are that these are marks made by a mallet or hammer used to remove the stump from the ground at the end of play, but perhaps someone has a better idea. 


A brief surf of the interwebs has made it pretty clear that there is not a huge amount of information available about vintage cricket equipment so any additional information on these artifacts would be much appreciated.


  1. Bill, are those traces of charring on the points of the stumps or is it the lighting in the photo? The iron sockets of tools such as chisels, shovels and forks etc were often heated immediately before fitting with a shaped wooden handle so the iron would contract on cooling and form a tight bond with the wood. Hence sometimes charring on on handles that have lost their iron bits. Dont know whether this was also done with brass.
    Nice present!


  2. Ben,

    Thanks! I don’t think it’s charred. In fact, it looks like the tips got saturated with water at some point and then re-stained. But maybe you’re right. It’s hard to believe that they’d just leave it as unprotected wood.



    1. Hey Bill.
      Cool…, worth a stab. Lovely present. No idea on the other marks though.
      Really enjoy your blog. Take it easy…


  3. Lovely stuff, a really nice article and gift! I wouldn’t have thought it would be charring on the tips; stumps are usually hammered into the ground so it’d be pointless tipping them as the impact would see the tips soon fall off anyway. I’d think that the darker parts of the bottom and where it has flared is the result of water being sucked up into the wood, and the actual tips would have been re-pointened once or twice when damaged to make them non-uniform to each other. The brass caps at the top indicate that they are very old, certainly since I’ve been playing/watching I’ve not come across them (since the early 80s at least). I hope you don’t mind me re-blogging!


  4. Reblogged this on wrongunatlongon and commented:
    Lovely little find – very old school cricket stumps!


  5. Ben,

    That’s a great parallel – right down to the flaring near the bottom. We know that these stumps date to before 1917 so the are basically the same era.

    Unfortunately, it’s impossible to see how the tip is attached…



  6. Here’s an example with metal tips, but it’s easy to see how they pins secured them to the tips.

    Ours have no trace of pinholes, so it seems unlikely the tips were covered, and hence, the well worn look.


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