History of Cricket – Cricket grew out of the many stick-and-ball games played in England 500 years ago, under a variety of different rules. The word “bat” is an old English word that simply means stick or club. By the seventeenth century, cricket had evolved enough to be recognizable as a distinct game and it was popular enough for its fans to be fined for playing it on Sunday instead of going to church. Till the middle of the eighteenth century, bats were roughly the same shape as hockey sticks, curving outwards at the bottom.
History of Cricket
There was a simple reason for this: the ball was bowled underarm, along the ground and the curve at the end of the bat gave the batsman the best chance of making contact.
How that early version of cricket played in village England grew into the modern game played in giant stadiums in great cities is a proper subject for history because one of the uses of history is to understand how the present was made. And sport is a large part of contemporary life: it is one way in which we amuse ourselves, compete with each other, stay fit, and express our social loyalties.
If tens of millions of Indians today drop everything to watch the Indian team play a Test match or a one-day international, it is reasonable for a history of India to explore how that stick-and-ball game invented in southeastern England became the ruling passion of the Indian subcontinent. This is particularly so since the game was linked to the wider history of colonialism and nationalism and was in part shaped by the politics of religion and caste.
Our history of cricket will look first at the evolution of cricket as a game in England, and discuss the wider culture of physical training and athleticism of the time. It will then move to India, discuss the history of the adoption of cricket in this country, and trace the modern transformation of the game. In each of these sections, we will see how the history of the game was connected to the social history of the time.
The Historical Development of Cricket as a Game in England
The social and economic history of England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries , cricket’s early years , shaped the game and gave cricket its unique nature .
For example, one of the peculiarities of Test cricket is that a match can go on for five days and still end in a draw. No other modern team sport takes even half as much time to complete. A football match is generally over in an hour – and – a – half of playing time. Even baseball, a long-drawn-out bat-and-ball game by the standards of modern sport, completes nine innings in less than half the time that it takes to play a limited-overs match, the shortened version of modern cricket!
Another curious characteristic of cricket is that the length of the pitch is specified – 22 yards – but the size or shape of the ground is not. Most other team sports, such as hockey and football lay down the dimensions of the playing area: cricket does not. Grounds can be oval like the Adelaide Oval or nearly circular, like Chepauk in Chennai.
A six at the Melbourne Cricket Ground needs to clear much more ground than a lofted shot for the same reward at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
There’s a historical reason behind both these oddities. Cricket was the earliest modern team sport to be codified, which is another way of saying that cricket gave itself rules and regulations so that it could be played in a uniform and standardized way well before team games like soccer and hockey.
The first written ‘ Laws of Cricket were drawn up in 1744. They stated the principals shall choose from amongst the gentlemen present two umpires who shall absolutely decide all disputes. The stumps must be 22 inches high and the bail across them six inches. The ball must be between 5 and 6 ounces, and the two sets of stumps 22 yards apart ‘. There were no limits on the shape or size of the bat.
It appears that 40 notches or runs were viewed as a very big score, probably due to the bowlers bowling quickly at shins unprotected by pads. The world’s first cricket club was formed in Hambledon in the 1760s and the Marylebone Cricket Club ( MCO ) was founded in 1787. The MCC published its first revision of the laws and became the guardian of cricket’s regulations.
The MCC’s revision of the laws brought in a series of changes in be game that occurred in the second half of the eighteenth century . During the 1760s and 1770s it became common to pitch the ball through the air , rather than roll it along the ground . This change gave increased bowlers the options of length , deception through the air , plus increased pace . It also opened new possibilities for spin and swing .
In response, batsmen had to master timing and shot selection. One immediate result was the replacement of the curved bar with the straight one. All of this raised the premium on skill and reduced the influence of rough ground and brute force.
The weight of the ball was limited to between 5 and a half to 5 three upon four ounces, and the width of the bat to four inches. The latter ruling followed an innings by a batsman who appeared with a bat as wide as the wicked In 1774, the first leg – before law was published. Also around this time, a third stump became common. By 1780, three days had become the length of a major match, and this year also saw the creation of the first six-team cricket ball.
While many important changes occurred during the nineteenth century ( the rule about wide balls was applied, the exact circumference of the ball was specified, protective equipment like pads and gloves became available, boundaries were introduced were previously all shots had to be run and, most importantly, overarm bowling became legal ) cricket remained a pre-industrial sport that matured during the early phase of the Industrial Revolution, the late eighteenth century. This history has made cricket a game with characteristics of both the past and the present day.
Cricket’s connection with a rural past can be seen in the length of a Test match. Originally, cricket matches had no time limit. The game went on for as long as it took to bowl out a side twice. The rhythms of village life were slower and cricket’s rules were made before the Industrial Revolution. Modern factory work meant that people were paid by the hour or the day or the week: games that Were codified after the industrial revolution, like football and hockey, were strictly time-limited to fit the routines of industrial city life.
In the same way, cricket’s vagueness about the size of a cricket ground is a result of its village origins. Cricket was originally played on country commons, unfenced land that was public property. The size of the commons varied from one village to another, so there were no designated boundaries or boundary hits. When the ball went into the crowd, the crowd cleared away for the fieldsman to retrieve it. Even after boundaries were written into the laws of cricket, their distance from the wicket was not specified. The laws simply lay down that the umpire shall agree with both captains on the boundaries of the playing area.