Organised matches of cricket in Radnorshire can be traced back to the 1840s. Several clubs were successfully formed during the Victorian era, especially to the east of the county and close to the adjoining English counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
The Radnorshire club was reformed in 1868 with annual games against the likes of Glamorgan, Breconshire and Montgomeryshire. However, the club was not fully representative of the county’s cricketers and was instead a collection of rich young gentlemen and not so young men who clearly enjoyed the social aspects of playing cricket.
Frank Cobden was the leading light of Radnorshire cricket during the second half of the 19th century.
In June 1870 he made one of the most dramatic contributions in the annual Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Frank took, at the age of twenty, a hat-trick (three wickets in successive balls) during the final over of the game to clinch a historic victory for Cambridge by just two runs. With Oxford chasing 179 to win, the game went on past seven o’clock on the final day with both sides still in the hunt. But Frank, bowling at great speed from the Nursery End, settled the contest with the second, third and fourth deliveries of what proved to be the final over, having Sam Bourne caught at mid-off, before clean bowling Will Stewart and Tom Belcher.
Born at Lambley in Nottinghamshire in 1849, Frank had been educated at private schools in the Home Counties, including Highgate, Brighton College and Harrow, before going up to Cambridge for whom he also appeared in the 1871 and 1872 Varsity Matches, but with less dramatic. After coming down, he moved to the Welsh Borders and played cricket for both Shropshire and Herefordshire,. During the 1880s, he moved to mid-Wales where his family owned land and held business interests besides becoming the leading light with the Radnorshire club, as well as acting as the local representative of the South Wales Cricket Club – a gentleman’s team representing the area and who organized annual tours to London and the South-East.
Frank played for the South Wales club between 1878 and 1883, besides appearing for a XXII of Montgomeryshire against the United England Eleven in 1882. He was on the move again in the 1890s as he purchased a hotel in Capel Curig. He remained in Caernarvonshire for the rest of his life, passing away in December 1932.
The Green-Price family
The Green-Price family were great supporters of Radnorshire cricket, with Sir Richard playing for the county in 1869 and his sons Alfred and George following suit during the 1880s. The Green-Price’s were leading figures in the political and social world of Mid-Wales and, no doubt, these contacts were helpful when Sir Richard organized a cricket week at Knighton from 1883 onwards, with matches against the MCC, the Free Foresters, Herefordshire and Breconshire.