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On June 25, 1863, a Royal Navy team drawn from officers on ships sent to protect British expats in Japan had plenty to worry about as the lanky James Campbell Fraser strode out to bat against them on an apology for a cricket pitch in Yokohama.

A swashbuckling Scot, Fraser had played cricket while at Harrow, a fee-paying school well known, along with Eton, for educating the country’s ruling elite. Though he didn’t make its first team, both there and later while working in Liverpool — where he played in a game against an All-England XI — he had encountered some fine players before arriving in Japan in 1862. So the following year, on that grassless patch of reclaimed land by the Foreign Settlement, his cricketing pedigree was a toffee-nosed head and shoulders above the rest.

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