History of Cricket
Early cricket was at some time or another described as “a club striking a ball”. The ancient games of club-ball, stool-ball, trap-ball, stob-ball”. Cricket can definitely be traced back to Tudor times in early 16th-century England. Written evidence exists of a game known as “creag” being played by Prince Edward, the son of Edward I (Longshanks), at Newenden, Kent in 1301 and there has been speculation, but no evidence, that this was a form of cricket. Many other words have been suggested as names for the term “cricket”. In the earliest real reference to the sport in 1598, it is called “creckett”. Given the strong old trade connections between south-east England and the County of Flanders when the latter belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, the name may have begun from the Middle Dutch kricke, meaning a stick ; or the Old English cricc or cryce meaning a crutch or staff. In Old French, the word criquet seems to have meant a kind of club or stick.
In Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, he derived cricket from “cryce, Saxon, a stick”. Another possible source is the Middle Dutch word krickstoel, meaning a long low stool used for kneeling in church and which resembled the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket. According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, “cricket” derives from the Middle Dutch phrase for hockey, met de krik ket sen “with the stick chase”. Dr. Gillmeister believes that not only the name but the sport is of origin. During the 17th century, numerous references indicate the growth of cricket in the south-east of England. By the end of the century, it had become an organized activity being played for high stakes and it is believed that the first professionals appeared in the years following the Restoration in 1660.
A newspaper report survives of “a great cricket match” with eleven players a side that was played for high stakes in Sussex in 1697 and this is the earliest known reference to a cricket match of such importance. The game went through major development in the 18th century and became the national sport of England. Betting played a major part in that development with rich patrons forming their own “select XIs”. Cricket was popular in London as early as 1707 and large crowds flocked to matches on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury. The single wicket form of the sport attracted huge crowds and wagers to match. Bowling became popular around 1760 when bowlers began to pitch the ball instead of rolling or skimming it towards the batsman. This caused a revolution in bat design because, to deal with the bouncing ball, it was necessary to introduce the modern straight bat in place of the old “hockey stick” shape.
The Hambledon Club was founded in the 1760s and, for the next 20 years until the formation of MCC and the opening of Lord’s Old Ground in 1787, Hambledon was both the game’s greatest club and its focal point. MCC quickly became the sport’s premier club and the custodian of the Laws of Cricket. New Laws introduced in the latter part of the 18th century included the three stump wicket and leg before wicket. The 19th century saw underarm bowling replaced by first roundarm and then overarm bowling. Both developments were controversial. Organization of the game at county level led to the creation of the county clubs, starting with Sussex CCC in 1839, which ultimately formed the official County Championship in 1890.
Meanwhile, the British Empire had been instrumental in spreading the game overseas and by the middle of the 19th century it had become well established in India, North America, the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In 1844, the first international cricket match took place between the United States and Canada, although neither has ever been ranked as a Test-playing nation. Cricket entered a new era in 1963 when English counties introduced the limited overs variant. As it was sure to produce a result, limited overs cricket was lucrative and the number of matches increased. The first Limited Overs International was played in 1971. The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) saw its potential and staged the first limited overs Cricket World Cup in 1975. In the 21st century, a new limited overs form, Twenty20, has made an immediate impact.
Equipment and Changes over Time
Ball- A red or white ball with a cork base, wrapped in twine covered with leather. The ball should have a circumference of 23 cm (9.1 inches) unless it is a children’s size. Bat- A wooden bat is used. The wood used is from the Kashmir or English willow tree. The bat cannot be more than 38 inches (96.5 cm) long and 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) wide. Aluminium bats are not allowed. The bat has a long handle and one side has a smooth face. Stumps- 3 wooden poles known as the stumps.
Bails- Two crosspieces are known as the bails.
Sight screen- A screen placed at the boundary known as the sight screen. This is aligned exactly parallel to the width of the pitch and behind both pairs of wickets. Boundary- A rope demarcating the perimeter of the field known as the boundary. History of the Cricket Bat-
(The only known piece of equipment that has changed, has only been the bat.) 1624 – This is the first time that we have any mention of a cricket bat. An inquest was carried out after a fielder was killed. The batsman had tried to prevent him from catching the ball, and had presumably whacked him on the head in the process! Originally bowlers used to bowl the ball underarm. The cricket bat was therefore shaped very much like a hockey stick. 1770’s – The laws were changed to allow “length bowling”, which was still performed underarm. The cricket bat became roughly parallel with a maximum width of 4.25″. This is still the same today.
They were extremely heavy, with the “swell” at the bottom. 1820’s – Round arm bowling was allowed, instigating more bounce so the cricket bat became lighter with a higher “swell”. 1830’s – Until this period all cricket bats were one piece willow. However, because of increased breakages and shock as the ball travelled faster, cricket bat makers started to “splice” handles into bats. Handles were either solid willow or ash. 1835 – The length of a cricket bat was restricted to 38″, which is still the same today. 1840 – The first recorded use of a “spring” being inserted into the handles of the cricket bat. These were initially whalebone (as used in ladies corsets) and some years later India rubber. 1853 – Thomas Nixon, a Notts cricketer, introduced the use of cane in handle making in cricket bats. 1864 – The laws were altered to allow over- arm bowling so there was a further lightening and more refined shaping of the blade. Handles became intricate constructions and were nearly all made of cane with Indian rubber grips. 1870’s – The shape of today’s cricket bat evolves.
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