History ofcricketThe game of cricket has a known history spanningfrom the 16th century to the present day, withinternational matches played since 1844, althoughthe official history of international Test cricketbegan in 1877. During this time, the game developedfrom its origins in England into a game which isnow played professionally in most of theCommonwealth of Nations.Early cricketHistory of cricket to 1725No one knows when or where cricket began butthere is a body of evidence, much of itcircumstantial, that strongly suggests the gamewas devised during Saxon or Norman times by
children living in the Weald, an area of densewoodlands and clearings in south-east Englandthat lies across Kent and Sussex. In medievaltimes, the Weald was populated by smallfarming and metal-working communities. It isgenerally believed that cricket survived as achildrens game for many centuries before it wasincreasingly taken up by adults around thebeginning of the 17th century.It is quite likely that cricket was devised bychildren and survived for many generations asessentially a children’s game. Adultparticipation is unknown before the early 17thcentury. Possibly cricket was derived frombowls, assuming bowls is the older sport, by theintervention of a batsman trying to stop the ballfrom reaching its target by hitting it away.Playing on sheep-grazed land or in clearings, theoriginal implements may have been a mattedlump of sheep’s wool (or even a stone or a smalllump of wood) as the ball; a stick or a crook oranother farm tool as the bat; and a stool or a tree
stump or a gate (e.g., a wicket gate) as thewicket.Derivation of the name of "cricket"A number of words are thought to be possiblesources for the term "cricket". In the earliestknown reference to the sport in 1598 (seebelow), it is called creckett. The name may havebeen derived from the Middle Dutch krick(-e),meaning a stick; or the Old English cricc orcryce meaning a crutch or staff. Anotherpossible source is the Middle Dutch wordkrickstoel, meaning a long low stool used forkneeling in church and which resembled thelong low wicket with two stumps used in earlycricket.According to Heiner Gillmeister, a Europeanlanguage expert of Bonn University, "cricket"derives from the Middle Dutch met de (krikket)sen (i.e., "with the stick chase"), which alsosuggests a Dutch connection in the gamesorigin. It is more likely that the terminology of
cricket was based on words in use in south eastEngland at the time and, given trade connectionswith the County of Flanders, especially in the15th century when it belonged to the Duchy ofBurgundy, many Middle Dutch words foundtheir way into southern English dialects.First definite referenceJohn Derrick was a pupil at The Royal Grammar School in Guildford when he and his friendsplayed creckett circa 1550Despite many prior suggested references, thefirst definite mention of the game is found in a1598 court case concerning an ownershipdispute over a plot of common land in
Guildford, Surrey. A 59-year old coroner, JohnDerrick, testified that he and his school friendshad played creckett on the site fifty years earlierwhen they attended the Free School. Derricksaccount proves beyond reasonable doubt that thegame was being played in Surrey circa1550.The first reference to cricket being played as anadult sport was in 1611, when two men inSussex were prosecuted for playing cricket onSunday instead of going to church. In thesame year, a dictionary defined cricket as aboys game and this suggests that adultparticipation was a recent development.Early 17th centuryA number of references occur up to the EnglishCivil War and these indicate that cricket hadbecome an adult game contested by parishteams, but there is no evidence of countystrength teams at this time. Equally, there islittle evidence of the rampant gambling that
characterised the game throughout the 18thcentury. It is generally believed, therefore, thatvillage cricket had developed by the middle ofthe 17th century but that county cricket had notand that investment in the game had notbegun.The CommonwealthAfter the Civil War ended in 1648, the newPuritan government clamped down on "unlawfulassemblies", in particular the more raucoussports such as football. Their laws alsodemanded a stricter observance of the Sabbaththan there had been previously. As the Sabbathwas the only free time available to the lowerclasses, crickets popularity may have wanedduring the Commonwealth. Having said that, itdid flourish in public fee-paying schools such asWinchester and St Pauls. There is no actualevidence that Oliver Cromwells regime bannedcricket specifically and there are references to itduring the interregnum that suggest it wasacceptable to the authorities provided that it did
not cause any "breach of the Sabbath". It isbelieved that the nobility in general adoptedcricket at this time through involvement invillage games.Gambling and press coverageCricket certainly thrived after the Restoration in1660 and is believed to have first attractedgamblers making large bets at this time. In1664, the "Cavalier" Parliament passed theGaming Act 1664 which limited stakes to £100,although that was still a fortune at the time,equivalent to about £12 thousand in present dayterms . Cricket had certainly become asignificant gambling sport by the end of the 17thcentury. There is a newspaper report of a "greatmatch" played in Sussex in 1697 which was 11-a-side and played for high stakes of 50 guineas aside.With freedom of the press having been grantedin 1696, cricket for the first time could bereported in the newspapers. But it was a long
time before the newspaper industry adaptedsufficiently to provide frequent, let alonecomprehensive, coverage of the game. Duringthe first half of the 18th century, press reportstended to focus on the betting rather than on theplay.18th-century cricketPatronage and playersGambling introduced the first patrons becausesome of the gamblers decided to strengthen theirbets by forming their own teams and it isbelieved the first "county teams" were formed inthe aftermath of the Restoration in 1660,especially as members of the nobility wereemploying "local experts" from village cricketas the earliest professionals. The first knowngame in which the teams use county names is in1709 but there can be little doubt that these sortof fixtures were being arranged long before that.The match in 1697 was probably Sussex versusanother county.
The most notable of the early patrons were agroup of aristocrats and businessmen who wereactive from about 1725, which is the time thatpress coverage became more regular, perhaps asa result of the patrons influence. These menincluded the 2nd Duke of Richmond, SirWilliam Gage, Alan Brodrick and EdwardStead. For the first time, the press mentionsindividual players like Thomas Waymark.Cricket moves out of EnglandCricket was introduced to North America viathe English colonies in the 17th century,probably before it had even reached the north ofEngland. In the 18th century it arrived in otherparts of the globe. It was introduced to the WestIndies by colonists and to India by British EastIndia Company mariners in the first half of thecentury. It arrived in Australia almost as soon ascolonization began in 1788. New Zealand andSouth Africa followed in the early years of the19th century.
Cricket never caught on in Canada, despiteefforts by an imperial-minded elite to promotethe game as a way of identifying with theBritish Empire. Canada, unlike Australia and theWest Indies, witnessed a continual decline in thepopularity of the game during 1860-1960.Linked to upper class British-Canadian elites,the game never became popular with the generalpublic. In the summer season it had to competewith baseball. During the First World War,Canadian units stationed in Britain playedbaseball, not cricket. See also: Laws of CricketDevelopment of theCricket and crisis Laws The basic rules of cricket such asbat and ball, the wicket, pitch dimensions, overs, how out,etc. have existed since time immemorial. In 1728, theDuke of Richmond and Alan Brodick drew up Articles ofAgreement to determine the code of practice in aparticular game and this became a common feature,especially around payment of stake money and
distributing the winnings given the importance ofgambling.In 1744, the Laws of Cricket were codified for the firsttime and then amended in 1774, when innovations such aslbw, middle stump and maximum bat width were added.These laws stated that the principals shall choose fromamongst the gentlemen present two umpires who shallabsolutely decide all disputes. The codes were drawn upby the so-called "Star and Garter Club" whose membersultimately founded MCC at Lords in 1787. MCCimmediately became the custodian of the Laws and hasmade periodic revisions and recodificationssubsequently.Continued growth in EnglandThe game continued to spread throughout England and, in1751, Yorkshire is first mentioned as a venue. Theoriginal form of bowling (i.e., rolling the ball along theground as in bowls) was superseded sometime after 1760when bowlers began to pitch the ball and study variationsin line, length and pace. Scorecards began to be kept ona regular basis from 1772 and since then an increasinglyclear picture has emerged of the sports development.
An artwork depicting the history of the cricket batThe first famous clubs were London and Dartford in theearly 18th century. London played its matches on theArtillery Ground, which still exists. Others followed,particularly Slindon in Sussex which was backed by theDuke of Richmond and featured the star player RichardNewland. There were other prominent clubs atMaidenhead, Hornchurch, Maidstone, Sevenoaks,Bromley, Addington, Hadlow and Chertsey.But far and away the most famous of the early clubs wasHambledon in Hampshire. It started as a parishorganisation that first achieved prominence in 1756. Theclub itself was founded in the 1760s and was wellpatronised to the extent that it was the focal point of thegame for about thirty years until the formation of MCCand the opening of Lords Cricket Ground in 1787.Hambledon produced several outstanding playersincluding the master batsman John Small and the firstgreat fast bowler Thomas Brett. Their most notableopponent was the Chertsey and Surrey bowler Edward
"Lumpy" Stevens, who is believed to have been the mainproponent of the flighted delivery.It was in answer to the flighted, or pitched, delivery thatthe straight bat was introduced. The old "hockey stick"style of bat was only really effective against the ball beingtrundled or skimmed along the ground.Cricket faced its first real crisis during the 18thcentury when major matches virtually ceased duringthe Seven Years War. This was largely due toshortage of players and lack of investment. But thegame survived and the "Hambledon Era" properbegan in the mid-1760s.Cricket faced another major crisis at the beginningof the 19th century when a cessation of majormatches occurred during the culminating period ofthe Napoleonic Wars. Again, the causes wereshortage of players and lack of investment. But, as inthe 1760s, the game survived and a slow recoverybegan in 1815.On June 17, 1815, on the eve of the Battle ofWaterloo British soldiers played a cricket match inthe Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels. Ever since
the park area where that match took place has beencalled La Pelouse des Anglais (the Englishmenslawn).MCC was itself the centre of controversy in theRegency period, largely on account of the enmitybetween Lord Frederick Beauclerk and GeorgeOsbaldeston. In 1817, their intrigues and jealousiesexploded into a match-fixing scandal with the topplayer William Lambert being banned from playingat Lords Cricket Ground for life. Gambling scandalsin cricket have been going on since the 17th century.In the 1820s, cricket faced a major crisis of its ownmaking as the campaign to allow roundarm bowlinggathered pace.19th-century cricketMain article: Overview of English cricket from 1816 to 1863
View of Genevas Plaine de Plainpalais with cricketers,1817 The game also underwent a fundamental change ofThe "Greatorganisation with the formation for the first time ofcounty clubs. All the modern county clubs, starting withSussex in 1839, were founded during the 19th century.A cricket match at Darnall, Sheffield in the 1820s.No sooner had the first county clubs establishedthemselves than they faced what amounted to "playeraction" as William Clarke created the travelling All-England Eleven in 1846. Though a commercial venture,this team did much to popularise the game in districtswhich had never previously been visited by high-classcricketers. Other similar teams were created and thisvogue lasted for about thirty years. But the counties andMCC prevailed.The growth of cricket in the mid and late 19th centurywas assisted by the development of the railway network.For the first time, teams from a long distance apart couldplay one other without a prohibitively time-consuming
journey. Spectators could travel longer distances tomatches, increasing the size of crowds.In 1864, another bowling revolution resulted in thelegalisation of overarm and in the same year WisdenCricketers Almanack was first published.Cricketer", W G Grace, made his first-class debut in1865. His feats did much to increase the games popularityand he introduced technical innovations whichrevolutionised the game, particularly in batting.International cricket beginsThe first ever international cricket game was between theUSA and Canada in 1844. The match was played at thegrounds of the St Georges Cricket Club in New York.The English team 1859 on their way to the USAIn 1859, a team of leading English professionals set off toNorth America on the first-ever overseas tour and, in1862, the first English team toured Australia.
Between May and October 1868, a team of AustralianAborigines toured England in what was the firstAustralian cricket team to travel overseas.The first Australian touring team (1878) pictured atNiagara FallsIn 1877, an England touring team in Australia played twomatches against full Australian XIs that are now regardedas the inaugural Test matches. The following year, theAustralians toured England for the first time and were aspectacular success. No Tests were played on that tour butmore soon followed and, at The Oval in 1882, arguablythe most famous match of all time gave rise to The Ashes.South Africa became the third Test nation in 1889.National championshipsA major watershed occurred in 1890 when theofficial County Championship was constituted inEngland. This organisational initiative has beenrepeated in other countries. Australia established theSheffield Shield in 1892–93. Other national
competitions to be established were the Currie Cupin South Africa, the Plunkett Shield in New Zealandand the Ranji Trophy in India.The period from 1890 to the outbreak of the FirstWorld War has become an object of nostalgia,ostensibly because the teams played cricketaccording to "the spirit of the game", but morerealistically because it was a peacetime period thatwas shattered by the First World War. The era hasbeen called The Golden Age of cricket and itfeatured numerous great names such as Grace,Wilfred Rhodes, C B Fry, K S Ranjitsinhji andVictor Trumper.Balls per overIn 1889 the immemorial four ball over was replaced by afive ball over and then this was changed to the current sixballs an over in 1900. Subsequently, some countriesexperimented with eight balls an over. In 1922, thenumber of balls per over was changed from six to eight inAustralia only. In 1924 the eight ball over was extendedto New Zealand and in 1937 to South Africa. In England,the eight ball over was adopted experimentally for the1939 season; the intention was to continue the experimentin 1940, but first-class cricket was suspended for theSecond World War and when it resumed, English cricket
reverted to the six ball over. The 1947 Laws of Cricketallowed six or eight balls depending on the conditions ofplay. Since the 1979/80 Australian and New Zealandseasons, the six ball over has been used worldwide andthe most recent version of the Laws in 2000 only permitssix ball overs.20th-century cricketGrowth of Test cricketSid Barnes, traps Lala Amarnath lbw in the firstofficial Test between Australia and India at theMCG in 1948When the Imperial Cricket Conference (as itwas originally called) was founded in 1909,only England, Australia and South Africa weremembers. India, West Indies and New Zealandbecame Test nations before the Second WorldWar and Pakistan soon afterwards. The
international game grew with several "affiliatenations" getting involved and, in the closingyears of the 20th century, three of those becameTest nations also: Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe andBangladesh.Test cricket remained the sports highest level ofstandard throughout the 20th century but it hadits problems, notably in the infamous "BodylineSeries" of 1932–33 when Douglas JardinesEngland used so-called "leg theory" to try andneutralise the run-scoring brilliance ofAustralias Don Bradman.