origins of cricket are obscure, and there are several theories on
how it started. One is that shepherds used to play it - one would
stand in front of the wicket gate to the sheep fold, and another
would bowl a stone or something at him, and he would have to hit it
with his crook, which was known as a cricce.
theories are that it derives from a game called club-ball, or a game
played in churchyards...
first reference to cricket being played is thought to be in 1300,
between Prince Edward and his friend Piers Gaveston and the first
recorded match took place at Coxheath in Kent in 1646. The first
match between counties on 29th June 1709, when Surrey played Kent at
earliest known cricket photographs were taken in 1857, by Roger
Fenton at the Artillery Ground, when the Royal Artillery played
well as shepherds' crooks, early bats were clubs and sticks. These
gave way to long, thin battes, which looked a bit like
straightened-out hockey sticks, because the ball was bowled
under-arm, and the batters swung their bats like clubs!!
the 18th century, the batte had developed into a longer, heavier,
curved version of the one we know now, carved out of a single piece
Today's bat was invented around 1853, with the blade made of willow,
and a cane handle, which is layered with strips of rubber, tied with
twine, and covered with rubber to make a grip. The 'V' shaped
extension of the handle into the blade is the splice. The early
balls were stones and other missiles. Rather dangerous really, and
not surprising that someone came up with an alternative! They're now
made of cork, and covered with hand-stitched leather quarters dyed
wicket - the stumps are the three posts. Originally there were two,
and at one point, four. The size has varied too - in the 17th
century, were up to two metres wide!! The bails are the two bits of
wood on the top, and if they fall off, it's all over!!
rudimentary form of the sport can be traced back to the 12th
century. Written evidence exists for a sport known as creag being
played by Prince Edward, the son of Edward I, in England in around
1300. In 1598 there was a reference to the sport of cricket being
played by boys at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford. This is
generally considered to be the first mention of cricket in the
English language. A number of words are thought to be possible
sources for the term cricket. The name may derive from a term for
the cricket bat: old French criquet (meaning a kind of club) or
Flemish krick(e) (meaning a stick) or in old English cricc or cryce
(meaning a crutch or staff). Alternatively, the French criquet
apparently derives from the Flemish word krickstoel, which is a long
low stool on which one kneels in church and which resembles the long
low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket.
the mid-17th to the 18th century, cricket transformed from being a
children's game to one played by men for bets. Originally played
with only two stumps and a single, long bail, Sevenoaks Vine C.C.
established a third stump and second bail (folklore suggests that a
certain bowler continuously bowled the ball through the middle of
the stumps, but due to the speed nobody could tell for sure). Old
Coulsdon hosted the first ever cricket match with three stumps and
two bails. The Coulsdon and Caterham Team were a pretty confident
bunch, laying out a bullish all-comers challenge in 1731 to beat any
11 men in England. Around 1750, a cricket club was formed in
Hambledon, Hampshire. In 1788, the Marylebone Cricket Club framed
the first set of rules to govern matches played between English
Cricket entered an epochal era in 1963, when English counties
modified the rules to provide a variant match form that produced an
expedited result: games with a restricted number of overs per side.
This gained widespread popularity and resulted in the birth of
one-day international (ODI) matches in 1971. The governing
International Cricket Council quickly adopted the new form and held
the first ODI Cricket World Cup in 1975. Since then, ODI matches
have gained mass spectatorship, at the expense of the longer form of
the game and to the consternation of fans who prefer the longer form
of the game. As of the early 2000s, however, the longer form of
cricket is experiencing a growing resurgence in popularity.
It's far from
clear how, when and where cricket was first invented, although it
would appear that within England cricket has its roots in the south
east. Reference was made to a game similar to cricket in the
accounts of King Edward I, being played in Kent as early as the 13th
Century. The word "cricket" may well have been derived from a curved
staff used by a shepherd that was known as a "cric". This was
reportedly used as a bat in front of the gate of a sheep pasture.
Cricket was a game played mainly by young peasants
and interest is believed to have already spread abroad before it
gained in popularity in England late in the 17th Century. Early in
the 1760s a club was formed in Hambledon, Hampshire. They were to be
the leading side for the next 25 years as they established batting
and bowling techniques that would transform the game.
Control of the game soon moved to London though
after Thomas Lord opened a ground (Lord's ground) on Dorset Fields.
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was formed there and when it moved
to its St Johns Wood base (Lord's) the turf from Dorset Fields moved
with it. The MCC soon became the leading club and their revised
versions of the law still govern the game today
Derivation of the name of "cricket"
number of words are thought to be possible sources for the term
cricket, which could refer to the bat or the wicket. In old
French, the word criquet meant a kind of club which probably gave
its name to croquet. Some believe that cricket and croquet have a
common origin. In Flemish, krick(e) means a stick, and, in old
English, cricc or cryce means a crutch or staff.
Alternatively, the French criquet apparently comes from the
Flemish word krickstoel, which is a long low stool on which
one kneels in church which may appear similar to the long low wicket
with two stumps used in early cricket, or the early stool in
stoolball. The word stool is old Sussex dialect for a tree
stump, and stool ball is a sport similar to cricket played by the
Codification of rules
September 23, 1771, Shock White of Ryegate used a bat fully as wide
as a wicket against the Hambledon Club. This prompted the Hambledon
Club to record a minute to the effect that the maximum width of a
cricket bat be set at four and a quarter inches. Other clubs quickly
adopted this standard, using metal gauges to check the size of bats
before allowing their use.
first recorded codification of the rules of cricket is the Code
of 1744. This specified that:
- the pitch be 22 yards long,
- the distance between the bowling crease and popping crease be 46 inches,
- the wickets be 22 inches tall and 6 inches wide,
- and the ball weigh between 5 and 6 ounces.
first printed version of the rules printed by W Read in 1775. Then
in 1788, the Marylebone Cricket Club published a set of Laws of
Cricket, which contained the first complete codification of the
rules of the game and the dimensions of the pitch and equipment.
Other cricket clubs across England quickly adopted the MCC's Laws
and cricket became standardised for the first time. The MCC remains
the custodian of the Laws of Cricket to the present day. The laws
were recodified in 1947, 1980 and 2000.
Development of rules
1821, the distance between the bowling and popping creases was
increased from 46 to 48 inches. On May 10, 1838, the size of a
cricket ball was codified for the first time, being a circumference
between 9 and 9 1/4 inches.
1853, the cricket bat had been developed into roughly its modern
form, being carved from a single piece of willow and attached to a
1864, overarm bowling was allowed for the first time. Prior to this,
only underarm bowling had been legal.
1865, creases were painted with whitewash for the first time. Prior
to this, the creases were cut into the turf, forming small ditches
an inch in width and depth.
1889 a bowler may change ends as often as he likes in an innings
(subject to not bowling two consecutive overs) (previously he could
only change ends once or twice); a side could declare its innings
closed for the first time.
Balls per over
number of balls in each over has changed throughout cricket's
history. The earliest rules of cricket specified that four balls
were bowled in each over.
1889 four ball overs were replaced by five ball overs, and then this
was changed to the current six balls an over in 1900. Since then,
many countries have experimented with eight balls an over. In 1922
the number of balls per over was changed from six to eight in
Australia only. In 1924 the eight ball over was extended to New
Zealand and in 1937 to South Africa. The 1947 code allowed six or
eight balls depending on the conditions of play.
the 1979/80 Australian and New Zealand seasons, the six ball over
has been used worldwide and the most recent, 2000, code only permits
six ball overs.
the 1960s, English county teams began playing a version of cricket
with modified rules. Instead of allowing each team two innings and
requiring the team to be dismissed in each one, they set up games of
only one innings each, and decreed that the innings would be
completed when a maximum number of overs had been bowled if they
hadn't ended earlier.
change to the rules allowed a game to be completed within one day.
This did not supplant the traditional long format of the game, which
continued to be played. Indeed, many cricket fans considered the
shorter form of the game to be a corruption of the sport. One-day
cricket did however have the advantage of delivering a result to
spectators within a single day, thus improving cricket's appeal to
younger or busier people.
first ever cricket game played between teams representing their
nations was between the USA and Canada in 1844. The match was played
at Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Meanwhile, in England, county cricket was growing in popularity. In
the 1870s, the MCC decided that the next step was to establish
international relations with the British colonies, where cricket was
becoming more popular as well.
1877 James Lillywhite put together a team and set off by ship for a
tour of Australia. His team, representing England on foreign soil,
played the first Test match against Australia on March 15, 1877, at
the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia won by 45 runs.
tour of England in 1882, Australia narrowly beat England by 7 runs
in a tense and exciting match, which prompted the Sporting Times to
run an obituary lamenting "The Death of English Cricket", with the
footnote "N.B. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to
Australia". The following Australian summer, England played a series
in Australia which the media played up as a quest to "regain the
ashes". A small trophy was created, containing some ashes, and
presented to the English captain. Except in times of war, regular
series of Test matches between these two countries have continued
until this day, playing for the right to hold the Ashes.
March 12, 1888, England played South Africa for the first time in a
Test match. The match occurred at St. George's Park, Port Elizabeth,
South Africa and established South Africa as the third Test nation.
1900, cricket made its first and only appearance in the Olympics.
Two teams competed, France and Britain. The French team consisted of
mostly players from the British Embassy. The British team won.
However, the players were not aware of the game's Olympic status
until some time later: the Olympic organisers decided to expand the
appeal of the Games by declaring that all the sports played in Paris
that year were part of the 1900 Summer Olympics and awarding medals
to the winners.
Pre-first world war era
June 15th 1909 representatives from England, Australia and South
Africa met at Lord's cricket ground in London, England and founded
the Imperial Cricket Conference. Membership was confined to teams
within the British Commonwealth who played test cricket.
1912, a "Triangular Tournament" was organised in England, involving
South Africa, Australia, and the host nation. It was the first Test
series in which more than two countries took part. Though not helped
by the weather, the enterprise was an utter disaster and was not
International cricket was suspended for the duration of World War I,
although domestic first-class cricket was still played.
Between the wars
Between the World Wars, three new teams acquired test status. On
June 23, 1928, the West Indies played England at Lord's Cricket
Ground in London. Then, England played against New Zealand in
Lancaster Park, Christchurch, New Zealand on January 10, 1930.
Finally, England matched up against one of its own colonies, India,
on June 23, 1932, at Lord's.
of the most controversial and antagonistic episodes in cricket
history occurred during the 1932-33 tour of Australia by England.
The so-called Bodyline tour saw England adopt the deliberate tactic
of bowling fast, short-pitched balls at the bodies of the Australian
batsmen, with the goal of intimidating them into losing their
wickets. England won the test series, but at the expense of a lot of
ill feeling between the two countries. After this tour, the Laws of
Cricket were changed to prevent any recurrence of such tactics.
best-known and also most controversial of these changes was an
amendment of the lbw rule, which was later to be blamed by eminent
players like Bob Wyatt and Jack Fingleton for encouraging negative
tactics based on a packed leg-side field during the 1950s.
the outbreak of World War II, international cricket was again
suspended until after the war.
India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947, the new Pakistani
cricket team played their first Test against their Indian
counterparts at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, India, on October 16, 1952.
This was the first inaugural Test in which England did not play. No
new Test teams were to be seen until the 1980s. At that time
Pakistan included current day Bangladesh, which did not become
independent until 1971.
Suspension of South Africa (1970-1991)
1961 South Africa left the Commonwealth and so had to leave the ICC.
Then throughout the 1960s the world was becoming increasingly
concerned about the policy of racial segregation, or 'apartheid',
adopted by the South African government.
started to come to a head in 1968 with the D'Oliveira affair. Basil
D'Oliveira was a Cape Coloured cricketer. He had moved to England to
further his career and taken British citizenship. He was widely
tipped to be selected for the English team to tour South Africa in
the winter of 1968/69, especially after scoring 158 in the final
test against Australia. But he was first omitted from the team,
apparently because his race would upset the South Africans. This
caused an outcry in the English media, and when a selected player
had to pull out through injury, D'Oliveira was selected to take his
place. When John Vorster, the South African prime minister, refused
D'Oliveira a visa to enter South Africa, England called off the
in 1970, the member nations of the International Cricket Conference,
as the ICC was then known, voted to suspend indefinitely South
Africa from international cricket competition. South Africa had
played its last Test against Australia on March 5 to March 10, 1970,
at Port Elizabeth, and they were regarded by many as the strongest
team in the world. South Africa had been due to tour England over
the English summer. So that the English did not miss out on
international cricket, the ICC hastily arranged a five match England
v Rest of World series. This series was later stripped of test match
status as it was not between two separate countries.
Africa's suspension resulted in the Test careers of several fine
players being cut short, most notably Barry Richards and Graeme
Pollock. South Africa continued playing domestic cricket within the
country, and its players remained strong. In 1974, the South African
Cricket Board of Control applied for re-admission to international
cricket, and was refused by the ICC.
Starved of top-level competition for its best players, the board
began funding so-called rebel tours, offering large sums of money
for international players to form teams and tour South Africa. The
ICC's response was to blacklist any rebel players who agreed to tour
South Africa, banning them from officially sanctioned international
cricket. As players were remunerated poorly during the 1970s,
several accepted the offer to tour South Africa, particularly
players towards the end of their careers, where a blacklisting would
have little effect.
rebel tours were widely condemned by the cricket establishment as
offering support and succour to South Africa's apartheid regime, and
some members of the press supported this view. Others claimed that
the old maxim that "sport and politics do not mix" applied and saw
no harm in having a sporting contest with citizens of an oppressive
tours continued into the 1980s, including a high profile English
teams led by Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting and West Indian and