Lancashire player number 13 - Coward, Cornelius
by Don Ambrose

Player:C Coward

Lancashire 1865-76
Born 27.1.1838 Preston.
Died 15.7.1903 Preston.


His brother Frederick also played for Lancashire in seven matches, 1867-68.


A small man, standing at just under 5ft.6inches and weighing ten stone. He was reckoned to be an excellent batsman and a good field at long-leg or cover-point.


His first recorded match of any consequence was in June 1862 when he appeared for a team of young professionals who had never appeared at Lord's or The Oval against the MCC at Lord's. In his first innings he was bowled by Grundy for 0, but in the second innings made 17 not out against the bowling of Grundy and Wootton to record the highest score for his side. He played so well that he was awarded a presentation bat by the Hon. F.Ponsonby.


His first match for Lancashire was the County's second first-class match, against Middlesex at Islington on 7th and 8th August 1865, when opening the innings he scored 23 and 0.


On 5th to 7th July 1866, at Old Trafford, against Middlesex, he came to the wicket in his side's first innings with the score at 48 for six wickets and was last out for 85, Lancashire totalling 181. During this year and the next three he played regularly for the United All England Eleven in their matches against twenty-twos, and in 1867 and 1868 was selected for the Players in their matches against the Gentlemen at The Oval.


He played his club cricket for Preston, but appears to have prefered coaching to club engagements. He spent some time at Stoneyhurst College, Lancashire and at Clongowes Wood College, in Ireland, both leading Roman Catholic institutions.


After his retirement the match between Lancashire and Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford in July 1878 was played for his benefit, and on 2nd September 1889 he received a further benefit at Preston when Lancashire played Eighteen of Preston. He continued to stand as umpire into the 1890s.


In June 1899 Fred Reynolds recalled in his memories of "Kerr" Coward that the Lancashire crowd often shortened his first name and also this incident : - "In his later days Coward was somewhat lame, and had a runner. On one occasion at Old Trafford he hit a ball and himself started to run, forgetting for the moment the runner. The runner ran too, half way up the wicket. The other batsman met them (Coward and his runner) just half way. It was then that Coward saw that the run was no run, and he turned tail. So did the runner, but the batsman from the other end kept straight ahead, and was about level with them at the wicket. All three stormed in at one end together, and the sight must have been comical. The wicket at the other derelict end was, of course, put down. Thoms, the umpire, was asked "How's that?" and of course he said "Out." "But who's out?" asked the three breathlessly. "Why," laughed Thoms, "you're all out." It was the last wicket." Try as we might we cannot firmly identify this match, which may of course have been a minor game between club sides. But with Thoms as the umpire?


At the time of the 1881 Census he was a licensed victualler, aged 43, living at the Riverside Bowling Green Inn, Preston, with his wife Ellen, aged 41, and two domestic servants.


At the time of the 1901 Census he was described as a professional cricketer and was a 63 year old widower, living at 204 South Meadow Road, Preston, with one domestic servant.


(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)


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