Category: Cricket

History of cricket

Cricket is one of many games in the “club ball” sphere that basically involve hitting a ball with a hand-held implement; others are baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, squash, and table tennis.[1] In cricket’s case, a key difference is the existence of a solid target structure, the wicket (originally, it is thought, a “wicket gate” through which sheep were herded), that the batsman must defend.[2] The cricket historian Harry Altham identified three “groups” of “club ball” games: the “hockey group”, in which the ball is driven to and fro between two targets (the goals); the “golf group”, in which the ball is driven towards an undefended target (the hole); and the “cricket group”, in which “the ball is aimed at a mark (the wicket) and driven away from it”.

It is generally believed that cricket originated as a children’s game in the south-eastern counties of England, sometime during the medieval period.[2] Although there are claims for prior dates, the earliest definite reference to cricket being played comes from evidence given at a court case in Guildford on Monday, 17 January 1597 (Julian calendar; equating to 30 January 1598 in the Gregorian calendar). The case concerned ownership of a certain plot of land and the court heard the testimony of a 59-year-old coroner, John Derrick, who gave witness that:

“Being a scholler in the ffree schoole of Guldeford hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies”.

Given Derrick’s age, it was about half a century earlier when he was at school and so it is certain that cricket was being played c.1550 by boys in Surrey.[6] The view that it was originally a children’s game is reinforced by Randle Cotgrave’s 1611 English-French dictionary in which he defined the noun “crosse” as “the crooked staff wherewith boys play at cricket” and the verb form “crosser” as “to play at cricket”.

One possible source for the sport’s name is the Old English word “cryce” (or “cricc”) meaning a crutch or staff. In Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, he derived cricket from “cryce, Saxon, a stick”.[4] In Old French, the word “criquet” seems to have meant a kind of club or stick.[9] Given the strong medieval trade connections between south-east England and the County of Flanders when the latter belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, the name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch (in use in Flanders at the time) “krick”(-e), meaning a stick (crook).[9] 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.[10] 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 (i.e., “with the stick chase”). Gillmeister has suggested that not only the name but also the sport itself may be of Flemish origin.

Evolution of the cricket bat. The original “hockey stick” (left) evolved into the straight bat from c.1760 when pitched delivery bowling began.
Although the main object of the game has always been to score the most runs, the early form of cricket differed from the modern game in certain key technical aspects. The ball was bowled underarm by the bowler and all along the ground towards a batsman armed with a bat that, in shape, resembled a hockey stick; the batsman defended a low, two-stump wicket; and runs were called “notches” because the scorers recorded them by notching tally sticks.

In 1611, the year Cotgrave’s dictionary was published, ecclesiastical court records at Sidlesham in Sussex state that two parishioners, Bartholomew Wyatt and Richard Latter, failed to attend church on Easter Sunday because they were playing cricket. They were fined 12d each and ordered to do penance.[15] This is the earliest mention of adult participation in cricket and it was around the same time that the earliest known organised inter-parish or village match was played – at Chevening, Kent.[4][16] In 1624, a player called Jasper Vinall died after he was accidentally struck on the head during a match between two parish teams in Sussex.

Cricket remained a low-key local pursuit for much of the century.[8] It is known, through numerous references found in the records of ecclesiastical court cases, to have been proscribed at times by the Puritans before and during the Commonwealth.[18][19] The problem was nearly always the issue of Sunday play as the Puritans considered cricket to be “profane” if played on the Sabbath, especially if large crowds and/or gambling were involved.

According to the social historian Derek Birley, there was a “great upsurge of sport after the Restoration” in 1660.[22] Gambling on sport became a problem significant enough for Parliament to pass the 1664 Gambling Act, limiting stakes to £100 which was in any case a colossal sum exceeding the annual income of 99% of the population.[22] Along with prizefighting, horse racing and blood sports, cricket was perceived to be a gambling sport.[23] Rich patrons made matches for high stakes, forming teams in which they engaged the first professional players.[24] By the end of the century, cricket had developed into a major sport which was spreading throughout England and was already being taken abroad by English mariners and colonisers – the earliest reference to cricket overseas is dated 1676.[25] A 1697 newspaper report survives of “a great cricket match” played in Sussex “for fifty guineas apiece” – this is the earliest known reference to an important match.

The patrons, and other players from the social class known as the “gentry”, began to classify themselves as “amateurs”[fn 1] to establish a clear distinction vis-à-vis the professionals, who were invariably members of the working class, even to the point of having separate changing and dining facilities. The gentry, including such high-ranking nobles as the Dukes of Richmond, exerted their honour code of noblesse oblige to claim rights of leadership in any sporting contests they took part in, especially as it was necessary for them to play alongside their “social inferiors” if they were to win their bets.[28] In time, a perception took hold that the typical amateur who played in first-class cricket, until 1962 when amateurism was abolished, was someone with a public school education who had then gone to one of Cambridge or Oxford University – society insisted that such people were “officers and gentlemen” whose destiny was to provide leadership. In a purely financial sense, the cricketing amateur would theoretically claim expenses for playing while his professional counterpart played under contract and was paid a wage or match fee; in practice, many amateurs claimed somewhat more than actual expenditure and the derisive term “shamateur” was coined to describe the syndrome.

Cricket Rules

  • Bowled – Cricket rules state that if the ball is bowled and hits the striking batsman’s wickets the batsman is given out (as long as at least one bail is removed by the ball). It does not matter whether the ball has touched the batsman’s bat, gloves, body or any other part of the batsman. However the ball is not allowed to have touched another player or umpire before hitting the wickets.
  • Caught – Cricket rules state that if a batsman hits the ball or touches the ball at all with his bat or hand/glove holding the bat then the batsman can be caught out. This is done by the fielders, wicket keeper or bowler catching the ball on the full (before it bounces). If this is done then cricket rules state the batsman is out.
  • Leg Before Wicket (LBW) – If the ball is bowled and it hits the batsman first without the bat hitting it then an LBW decision is possible. However for the umpire to give this out he must first look at some of the factors stated in the cricket rules. The first thing the umpire need to decide is would the ball have hit the wickets if the batsman was not there. If his answer to this is yes and the ball was not pitched on the leg side of the wicket he can safely give the batsman out. However if the ball hits the batsman outside the line of off stump while he was attempting to play a stroke then he is not out.
  • Stumped – A batsman can be given out according to cricket rules when the wicketkeeper puts down his wicket while he is out of his crease and not attempting a run (if he is attempting a run it would be a runout).
  • Run Out – Cricket rules state that a batsman is out if no part of his bat or body is grounded behind the popping crease while the ball is in play and the wicket is fairly put down by the fielding side.
  • Hit Wicket – Cricket rules specify that if a batsman hits his wicket down with his bat or body after the bowler has entered his delivery stried and the ball is in play then he is out. The striking batsman is also out if he hits his wicket down while setting off for his first run.
  • Handled The Ball – Cricket rules allow the batsman to be given out if he willingly handles the ball with the hand that is not touching the bat without the consent of the opposition.
  • Timed Out – An incoming batsman must be ready to face a ball or be at the non strikers end with his partner within three minutes of the outgoing batsman being dismissed. If this is not done the incoming batsman can be given out.
  • Hit The Ball Twice – Cricket rules state that if a batsman hits a ball twice other than for the purpose of protecting his wicket or with consent from the opposition he is out.
  • Obstructing The Field – A batsman is out if he willingly obstructs the opposition by word or actionA typical cricket field
  • A “No Ball” can be declared for many reasons: If the bowler bowls the ball from the wrong place, the ball is declared dangerous (often happens when bowled at the batsmen’s body on the full), bounces more than twice or rolls before reaching the batsman or if fielders are standing in illegal positions. The batsman can hit a no ball and score runs off it but cannot be out from a no ball except if they are ran out, hit the ball twice, handle the ball or obstruct the field. The batsman gains any runs scored off the no ball for his shot while the team also gains one run for the no ball itself.
  • A “Wide Ball” will be declared if the umpire thinks the batsman did not have a reasonable opportunity to score off the delivery. However if the delivery is bowled over the batsmen’s head it will not be declared a wide but a no ball. Umpires are much stricter on wide deliveries in the shorter format of the game while being much more relaxed in test cricket. A wide delivery will add one run to the batting team and any runs scored by the batsman. The batsman is not able to get out off a wide delivery except if they are stumped, run out, handle the ball, hit their wicket or obstruct the field.
  • A “Bye” is where a ball that isn’t a no ball or wide passes the striking batsman and runs are scored without the batsman hitting the ball.
  • A “Leg Bye” is where runs are scored by hitting the batsman, but not the bat and the ball is not a no ball or wide. However no runs can be scored if the striking batsman didn’t attempt to play a shot or if he was avoiding the ball.
  • Ways to score runs

    The aim of the batsmen is to score runs. One of the main cricket rules is that for batsmen to score runs they must run to each other’s end of the pitch (from one end to the other). In doing this one run is scored. Cricket rules state they may run multiple runs per shot. As well as running they can also score runs by hitting boundaries. A boundary scores the batsmen either 4 or 6 runs. A four is scored by hitting the ball past the boundary after hitting the ground while a six is scored by hitting the ball past the boundary on the full (before it hits the ground). Cricket rules also state that once a 4 or 6 has been scored any runs physically ran by the batsman are null & void. They will only obtain the 4 or 6 runs.

    Other ways runs can be scored according to the cricket rules include no balls, wide balls, byes & leg byes. Cricket rules state that all runs scored by these methods are awarded to the batting team but not the individual batters.

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