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Peter Upton's

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Table Cricket.

Page 1: Boxed Sets .

Peter Adolph introduced a cricket game to his Subbuteo range pretty soon after he had started his games company. I believe it was on sale by 1949. Certainly by 1953 the full compliment of three box sets were available from his mail order service. So when the OO scale football started to take off in the mid 1960s, it was natural that he would produce a matching cricket game. Like football, this had its own selection of accessories and choices of team. However, it  remained a minor part of the Subbuteo range and the range of accessories which was established by 1969 was never expanded on. 

Cricket Editions.
The 1950 Flat Versions.

   

Three versions were produced to match various budgets. The assembly version was produced with variations to the lid. It started in a plain brown lid matching the earliest football game, and this later gains an illustration of a bowler in the blank space on the right. In the 1950s the set gains a green lid which matches the look of the bigger sets now being produced. 

Assembly Outfit: with cardboard figures, and plastic bases etc. Price 10/1d in 1957
Combination Edition: with celluloid plastic figures and plastic bases etc. Price 14/5 in 1957
Super Assembled Set: with deluxe components and "marked out" baize cloth. Price 42/- in 1957

In cricket, the only difference between the combination and the assembly set is that the combination has the more expensive celluloid figures. The combination comes in a cute little square box, and the label on the lid is either green (as illustrated) or light blue.

  

Here are a couple of pictures of the pieces from an assembly outfit. You should be able to see that the bowler is identical to the version used in the OO scale version, and the bat is used in the same way - although in the early game it is a normal flat  figure in a base with a handle - which is held upside down. A bit like using a celluloid goalkeeper on his head. The main differences between this and the later game are the fielders,  who are on normal football bases, and the simple wickets. The different bases on the fielders result in different rules for catching and fielding. I've now produced a 1950s cricket rules page for those who wish to play this version of the game, and a flat era accessories page

The OO scale versions

There are four alternative versions of cricket, closely matching the football editions. The first sets produced were the display and club editions, which had arrived by 1966. The large Test Match edition had been added by 1969, and the final set was the Floodlighting Edition in 1981.

Display Edition

As with the football display edition, this was basically the club edition without a pitch. As the pitch was the most expensive part of the set, it cut the price drastically. In the 1960s, the display edtion was 22/11d, whereas the club edition was 45/11d. The display edition had left the range by 1973, and so is only available in the early box types.

Club Edition

    

The standard cricket set. Included one fielding team, a bowler, two batsmen, two umpires, the balls, the bat, the wickets and wicket stops. In both the display and club editions, the usual arrangement is red capped batsmen, and light blue capped fielders, but variations are quite common. The later version originally has a card interior (as shown) but later swaps to polystyrene. By the 1980s the pitch is a nylon one.

Test Match Edition

    

This expensive set was rather in the manner of the football International edition, including most of the cricket accessory range - a scoreboard, the sightscreens, the groundsmen, and the deckchair supporters. Like the 1960s football editions, the fence surround wasn't included in this set (sadly). The set actually appeared a few years after the club and display editions, simply because the extra components were also later arrivals to the range (the 1966-67 Cricket range only reaches set TC-M). The above pictures show that there were two different illustrations on the early cricket sets.

My 1970s version of this set features England (in blue caps) and Australia (in green caps), although sets can also feature the West Indies. The two batsmen and the wicket keeper are supplied in the colours of both teams, but as only one fielding team is supplied, this tends to be all fielders without caps to keep them neutral (I'm not sure how this worked with the West Indies).

    

Like the Club Edition, the Test Match set has a change of lid in the 1970s to match the look of the other sports of the time. This set then switches to a polystyrene inner at the end of the 1970s. Both card and polystyrene inners are designed the same way, with the standard club edition insert next to the one featuring the extras. The box lid has a final minor change in the 1980s, to match the floodlighting version, and is then numbered as C310.

C330: Floodlighting Edition

Only available for a few years circa 1981-83, this was basically the Club edition with a pair of floodlights added. I thought floodlit one day cricket matches were a more recent development than this, but in fact they started in the mid 1970s. There are a couple of minor tweaks to this version. The cricket balls are white (so that they show up under the floodlights) and the batsmen and wicket keeper's pads are painted black. 

The Floodlighting set was the most expensive cricket set produced, costing 17.50 in 1981 compared with 10.50 for the Club, and 12.50 for the Test Match. This surprised me at first, but is logical when you think of the cost of floodlights compared to a scoreboard, sightscreens and some spectators. Nevertheless, the boxes of Test and Floodlighting set are the same size, and somehow the Test Match one feels the more classy. Which is perhaps why the floodlighting set did not sell in any great numbers. 

If the floodlighting set had been a success, then Subbuteo Sports Games were all set to launch a set of cricketers in coloured outfits. Sadly, the cutbacks of the early 1980s put pay to that idea. But you can recreate the look with some Wicketz players. 

If you want to look at the cricket accessories, then these now have their own page.


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