Did photographer call out Shrewsbury School cricketer with dirty pads?

Exactly 150 years ago, these were the young men of Shrewsbury School who were striving for glory with the school cricket XI.

But did one of them blot his copybook when the local photographer came round to record them for posterity?

It is an intriguing possibility raised by a picture taken of the team in 1868 which is in the archives of the school, and was emailed in to us by school librarian and archivist Dr Robin Brooke-Smith.

It is, he says, the earliest cricket photo they have. And he sent it for comparison after seeing published another picture from our archives of exactly the same team, which was clearly taken at the same time, and the Victorian photographer – Laing, of Castle Street, Shrewsbury – was the same too.

But look closely and, apart from some minor changes of pose, there is one big difference between the photo in our archive and the photo in the school archives.

In the photo held by the school, the cricketer standing on the left and the cricketer on the ground on the left, have swapped places in comparison to our photo.

Which raises the question of why that should have been so, resulting in two different versions of the same team line-up in an era in which photography must have cost a fortune.

So here we go with some conjecture (and if you have any better theories, just let us know). Just look at the filthy pads of the cricketer standing on the left in our photo. Could the photographer have asked him to sit down so that those dirty pads didn't show?

The name of the offending cricketer looks to have been Coates, as at the bottom of the print in our archive the following names are written, presumably starting from the left on the back row, although the writing on some of them is difficult to make out – Coates, Horner, Nicholas, Youngson (?), Benson, Bundle (?), Hatel (?), Dryland.

And these are the names, presumably for the front row: Hughes, Gilkes (?), James, Young Jim (?).

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