The summer game is upon us with the reminder that in Oscar Wilde’s earliest surviving letter, as well as in his final poem, there is mention of cricket.
In 1868, Oscar Wilde proudly wrote to his Mother that his school had beaten the visiting 27th Regiment at cricket by 70 runs . Thirty years later, at the other end of his writing career, the initial description Wilde gives us of Charles Thomas Wooldrige, the tragic dedicatee of The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), is that a cricket cap was on his head.
What, you may ask, do these bookends portend? Well, precisely nothing.
Or so I thought.
The consensus is that, apart from dominoes outside French cafes, Oscar famously had a dislike of outdoor games. Football, he is reported to have said, was all very well for rough girls, but hardly suitable for delicate boys ; and, as for cricket, he didn’t play as it requires one to assume such indecent postures. 
As the photograph on this page demonstrates, Oscar remained decidedly unprepared when it came to participating in cricket, content to be holding what appears to be a mascot dog (that refuses to look straight at the camera long enough for the exposure). Indeed, there is no evidence of his having played the game at all.
Until now, that is.
The evidence is in this newspaper article  which tells us Oscar was persuaded into a game of cricket aboard the steamship Britannic on his way to America for the second time in 1883.
Moreover he appears to have been no mean player, as he was pleased to recount that he had hit a six! For those unfamiliar with the old game, this is the equivalent of hitting one out of the park, or, in Oscar’s case, overboard.
 Complete Letters, 3
 Dominoes and football from Hesketh Pearson, His Life and Wit, 147
 Robert Harborough Sherard, The Life of Oscar Wilde (1906), 104.
 The Times (Philadelphia), August 12, 1883, 1.