THE HISTORY BEHIND OUR NAME
In the early days of cricket, the game was played by either amateurs (Gentlemen) or professionals (Players) with the difference being dictated by the English class system in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Players were typically working class and the Gentlemen middle and upper class – usually products of the English public schools. The Players were paid wages by their counties or clubs but the Gentlemen merely claimed expenses (often in the form of a good lunch!).
The year 1806 saw the first ever Gentlemen v Players match and the fixture continued until 1962 with two or more games each season – with a break for the Napoleonic Wars. During the mid 19th century the matches lacked interest as the Gentlemen were often outclassed but the fixture gained prestige during the career of a certain W. G. Grace when the matches became very competitive.
The advent of Test cricket coupled with social change in the 20th century saw its importance decline, especially in the aftermath of the Second World War.
On 31 January 1963, the committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) voted to abolish the concept of amateurism and all first-class cricketers became professional and the Gentlemen v Players fixture was discontinued.
A total of 274 Gentlemen v Players matches were played from 1806 to 1962. The Players won 125 and the Gentlemen 68. There were 80 draws and one tie.