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Friday, 8 July 2011

Early cricket

Early cricket

Origin

No one knows when or where cricket began but there is a body of evidence, much of it circumstantial, that strongly suggests the game was devised during Saxon or Norman times by children living in the Weald, an area of dense woodlands and clearings in south-east England that lies across Kent and Sussex. In medieval times, the Weald was populated by small farming and metal-working communities. It is generally believed that cricket survived as a children's game for many centuries before it was increasingly taken up by adults around the beginning of the 17th century.[1]
It is quite likely that cricket was devised by children and survived for many generations as essentially a children’s game. Adult participation is unknown before the early 17th century. Possibly cricket was derived from bowls, assuming bowls is the older sport, by the intervention of a batsman trying to stop the ball from reaching its target by hitting it away. Playing on sheep-grazed land or in clearings, the original implements may have been a matted lump of sheep’s wool (or even a stone or a small lump of wood) as the ball; a stick or a crook or another farm tool as the bat; and a stool or a tree stump or a gate (e.g., a wicket gate) as the wicket.[2]

Derivation of the name of "cricket"

A number of words are thought to be possible sources for the term "cricket". In the earliest known reference to the sport in 1598 (see below), it is called creckett. The name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch krick(-e), meaning a stick; or the Old English cricc or cryce meaning a crutch or staff.[2] 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 met de (krik ket)sen (i.e., "with the stick chase"), which also suggests a Dutch connection in the game's origin. It is more likely that the terminology of cricket was based on words in use in south east England at the time and, given trade connections with the County of Flanders, especially in the 15th century when it belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, many Middle Dutch[3] words found their way into southern English dialects.

First definite reference

First definite reference

John Derrick was a pupil at The Royal Grammar School in Guildford when he and his friends played creckett circa 1550
Despite many prior suggested references, the first definite mention of the game is found in a 1598 court case concerning an ownership dispute over a plot of common land in Guildford, Surrey. A 59-year old coroner, John Derrick, testified that he and his school friends had played creckett on the site fifty years earlier when they attended the Free School. Derrick's account proves beyond reasonable doubt that the game was being played in Surrey circa 1550
The first reference to cricket being played as an adult sport was in 1611, when two men in Sussex were prosecuted for playing cricket on Sunday instead of going to church.[7] In the same year, a dictionary defined cricket as a boys' game and this suggests that adult participation was a recent development.[5]

Early 17th century

A number of references occur up to the English Civil War and these indicate that cricket had become an adult game contested by parish teams, but there is no evidence of county strength teams at this time. Equally, there is little evidence of the rampant gambling that characterised the game throughout the 18th century. It is generally believed, therefore, that village cricket had developed by the middle of the 17th century but that county cricket had not and that investment in the game had not begun.[1]

18th-century cricket

18th-century cricket

Patronage and players

Gambling introduced the first patrons because some of the gamblers decided to strengthen their bets by forming their own teams and it is believed the first "county teams" were formed in the aftermath of the Restoration in 1660, especially as members of the nobility were employing "local experts" from village cricket as the earliest professionals.[5] The first known game in which the teams use county names is in 1709 but there can be little doubt that these sort of fixtures were being arranged long before that. The match in 1697 was probably Sussex versus another county.
The most notable of the early patrons were a group of aristocrats and businessmen who were active from about 1725, which is the time that press coverage became more regular, perhaps as a result of the patrons' influence. These men included the 2nd Duke of Richmond, Sir William Gage, Alan Brodrick and Edward Stead. For the first time, the press mentions individual players like Thomas Waymark.

Cricket moves out of England

Cricket was introduced to North America via the English colonies in the 17th century,[4] probably before it had even reached the north of England. In the 18th century it arrived in other parts of the globe. It was introduced to the West Indies by colonists[4] and to India by British East India Company mariners in the first half of the century. It arrived in Australia almost as soon as colonization began in 1788. New Zealand and South Africa followed in the early years of the 19th century.[5]

19th-century cricket

19th-century cricket

View of Geneva's Plaine de Plainpalais with cricketers, 1817
The game also underwent a fundamental change of organisation with the formation for the first time of county clubs. All the modern county clubs, starting with Sussex in 1839, were founded during the 19th century.
A cricket match at Darnall, Sheffield in the 1820s.
No sooner had the first county clubs established themselves than they faced what amounted to "player action" as William Clarke created the travelling All-England Eleven in 1846. Though a commercial venture, this team did much to popularise the game in districts which had never previously been visited by high-class cricketers. Other similar teams were created and this vogue lasted for about thirty years. But the counties and MCC prevailed.
The growth of cricket in the mid and late 19th century was assisted by the development of the railway network. For the first time, teams from a long distance apart could play one other without a prohibitively time-consuming journey. Spectators could travel longer distances to matches, increasing the size of crowds.

20th-century cricket

20th-century cricket

Growth of Test cricket

Sid Barnes, traps Lala Amarnath lbw in the first official Test between Australia and India at the MCG in 1948
When the Imperial Cricket Conference (as it was originally called) was founded in 1909, only England, Australia and South Africa were members. India, West Indies and New Zealand became Test nations before the Second World War and Pakistan soon afterwards. The international game grew with several "affiliate nations" getting involved and, in the closing years of the 20th century, three of those became Test nations also: Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Test cricket remained the sport's highest level of standard throughout the 20th century but it had its problems, notably in the infamous "Bodyline Series" of 1932–33 when Douglas Jardine's England used so-called "leg theory" to try and neutralise the run-scoring brilliance of Australia's Don Bradman.

Suspension of South Africa (1970–91)

The greatest crisis to hit international cricket was brought about by apartheid, the South African policy of racial segregation. The situation began to crystallise after 1961 when South Africa left the Commonwealth of Nations and so, under the rules of the day, its cricket board had to leave the International Cricket Conference (ICC). Cricket's opposition to apartheid intensified in 1968 with the cancellation of England's tour to South Africa by the South African authorities, due to the inclusion of "coloured" cricketer Basil D'Oliveira in the England team. In 1970, the ICC members voted to suspend South Africa indefinitely from international cricket competition. Ironically, the South African team at that time was probably the strongest in the world.

World Series Cricket

World Series Cricket

The money problems of top cricketers were also the root cause of another cricketing crisis that arose in 1977 when the Australian media magnate Kerry Packer fell out with the Australian Cricket Board over TV rights. Taking advantage of the low remuneration paid to players, Packer retaliated by signing several of the best players in the world to a privately run cricket league outside the structure of international cricket. World Series Cricket hired some of the banned South African players and allowed them to show off their skills in an international arena against other world-class players. The schism lasted only until 1979 and the "rebel" players were allowed back into established international cricket, though many found that their national teams had moved on without them. Long-term results of World Series Cricket have included the introduction of significantly higher player salaries and innovations such as coloured kit and night games.

Limited-overs cricket

In the 1960s, English county teams began playing a version of cricket with games of only one innings each and a maximum number of overs per innings. Starting in 1963 as a knockout competition only, limited overs grew in popularity and in 1969 a national league was created which consequently caused a reduction in the number of matches in the County Championship.
Although many "traditional" cricket fans objected to the shorter form of the game, limited overs cricket did have the advantage of delivering a result to spectators within a single day; it did improve cricket's appeal to younger or busier people; and it did prove commercially successful.
The first limited overs international match took place at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1971 as a time-filler after a Test match had been abandoned because of heavy rain on the opening days. It was tried simply as an experiment and to give the players some exercise, but turned out to be immensely popular. Limited overs internationals (LOIs or ODIs, after One-day Internationals) have since grown to become a massively popular form of the game, especially for busy people who want to be able to see a whole match. The International Cricket Council reacted to this development by organising the first Cricket World Cup in England in 1975, with all the Test playing nations taking part.

21st-century cricket

21st-century cricket

Cricket remains a major world sport in terms of participants, spectators and media interest.
The ICC has expanded its development program with the goal of producing more national teams capable of competing at Test level. Development efforts are focused on African and Asian nations; and on the United States. In 2004, the ICC Intercontinental Cup brought first-class cricket to 12 nations, mostly for the first time.
In June 2001, the ICC introduced a "Test Championship Table" and, in October 2002, a "One-day International Championship Table". Australia has consistently topped both these tables in the 2000s.
Cricket's newest innovation is Twenty20, essentially an evening entertainment. It has so far enjoyed enormous popularity and has attracted large attendances at matches as well as good TV audience ratings. The inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup tournament was held in 2007 with a follow-up event in 2009. The formation of Twenty20 leagues in India – the unofficial Indian Cricket League, which started in 2007, and the official Indian Premier League, starting in 2008 – raised much speculation in the cricketing press about their effect on the future of cricket.