A game described as being similar to baseball and loved by many around the world, Cricket is a sport like no other. According to Wikipedia, ‘Cricket is the world’s second most popular spectator sport after football (soccer)’. So what is the origin of cricket? How did the sport come to be? Let’s find out.
The exact origin of cricket is unknown. It is believed that cricket started back in the 16th century during Saxon or Norman times by children who were living in woodlands in southeast England. The name ‘cricc’ is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning shepherd’s staff and it is thought that English shepherds were the first players of the sport and used their ‘criccs’ as bats.
It wasn’t until the 17th century that cricket was taken up by adults. Hitting a ball with a stick or bat became a popular pastime for many. The earliest bats were kind of like hockey sticks, long, heavy and curved. For most of the 17th century, cricket remained a local game played in England, and many people used to play cricket on Sundays after church.
Cricket in the 18th and 19th Century
By the mid 18th century, cricket had become one of the leading sports in London and southeast England. It was steadily gaining in popularity even among women as the first known women’s cricket match was dated back to 1745 in Surry. As for the rest of the world, cricket was introduced to North America via English colonies and it also slowly made its way to other parts of the globe such as India and Australia due to colonists and mariners.
It is unclear when the original rules of cricket were formulated, but the first written rules of cricket were established in 1744 and the game’s rules were finalized by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1797. By the 1770s it was common to pitch the ball through the air, rather than rolling it on the gourd, as it was played in the early days. This change brought forth new possibilities for spinning and swerving the ball and to throw the ball with greater speed.
The 19th century brought significant changes to the game of cricket. Initially, bowlers were still bowling the ball underarm. By the 1830s round-arm had become increasingly popular and was permitted by the Marylebone Cricket Club who refused to allow any delivery not thrown or jerked in which the hand or arm did not go above the shoulder.
By the 19th century, cricket had grown a lot. Part of this was due to the development of the railway network, which meant that long-distance teams could play one another without an overly long journey. Also, travelers were able to travel longer distances to matches leading to increasing the size of crowds at matches.
Over time, with the changing of rules and balling techniques, batsmen learned to protect themselves with pads, batting gloves, and protective equipment and led to the cricket we know of today. Cricket has established itself in Australia, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, North America, South Africa, and the British Isles. It is England’s national summer sport and is now played throughout the world.
Also Read: THE GREATEST CRICKET GROUNDS IN THE WORLD
- Wikipedia. History of Cricket. June 25, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cricket#:~:text=Having%20originated%20in%20south%2Deast,%2C%20retrospectively%20recognised%2C%20in%201877.
- Athnet. Is this how cricket was started? Retrieved June 30, 2021. https://www.athleticscholarships.net/history-of-cricket.htm