An Angry Fan to Edward “Lumpy” Stevens, July 1771

And I shan't hesitate to remove your stocking-cap and dash it to the ground, either.

My Dearest Good Sir,

I am writing to you in a most intemperate rage as a fan, patron, and bettor of you and your boys of Chertsey. I am not normally one to get his immaculately powdered wig in a knot, but I must object most strenuously and most bitterly to your appalling display versus Bromley a fortnight past. A club cannot expect to win matches (and more importantly, bets) when her chief bowler, her anchor, heaves and hurls the ball with all the venom of a child with a puppy. I should say that if my wife had pretensions of being a cricketer, she would be most embarrassed to be associated with bowling of that calibre. Not only hindered by her womanhood, the good lady is 7 months with child and lost a finger from scurvy as a young girl. Such is my dissatisfaction with the quality of your performance.

I should not think it an exaggeration to say that if Cromwell had seen your display, he would have been right to ban the game in all its forms. In fact, though I have counted myself a supporter of cricket since my father beat me to within an inch of my life with a bat in 1745 (May, as I recall), I would not have hesitated in supporting the Puritan chamberpot. If Shakespeare had written a play about you, it would have most certainly been entitled The Comedy of Errors or Much Ado About Nothing or Romeo and Juliet and the Bowler Who Was Terrible Enough to Make Them Both Commit Suicide.

Mr. Stevens, I think it would be prudent for the match at next week-end if you would try most sincerely to remove your cranium from your devil’s hole and bowl to a line worthy of the tuppence you are paid. If you do not, I shall not hesitate to call you a blackguard in mixed company.

Yours in furore,

Sir Dewey Finnegan Throckmorton, Duke of South Gobbleshite

Analysis:

Sir Dewey’s suggestion of an as-yet-unheard of Shakespeare play led scholars to finally open a centuries-old envelope they’d found in Shakespeare’s desk on which he had written “Just a little something that wouldn’t interest anyone.” Before then, they hadn’t bothered to open it because it sounded so unimportant.

When they opened the envelope, they discovered the script of what historians think is a precursor to the more well-known “Romeo and Juliet”: “Romeo and Juliet and the Bowler Who Was Terrible Enough to Make Them Both Commit Suicide.”

Here is a scene from Act I, scene vi:

Romeo: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Juliet: Yes you really ought to, and…oh my goodness, what is wrong with that cricket bowler?

Romeo: Gah, his playing is all off.

Juliet: He’s so weak. It makes me feel so hopeless.

Romeo: A pox on me.

Juliet: Me too.

[They kill themselves with dagger.]

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