Origins of Cricket January 11 2017, 0 Comments
Cricket originated in England during the late 16th century and became its national sport 200 years later. International cricket matches began in 1844 and 34 years later, test cricket was recognized, albeit retrospectively.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the game of cricket spread and became a competitive sport that traversed language and culture. Today it’s the second most popular spectator sport in the world! However, its rise to popularity in the USA has been resisted by zealous supporters of baseball, one of the favoured summer sports in that country.
What would a game be without rules? How would one know who would lift the cup? The basic rules of cricket seem to have been understood from the beginning but being a game for gamblers, firm terms were needed to avoid arguments off the field. Formal written codes of practice and the Articles of Agreement were drawn up, purportedly by the second Duke of Richmond and one other. In 1744, the Laws of Cricket were recorded for the first time and some 30 years later the 'lbw' law and bat width was finalized.
Cricket continued quite uneventfully, interrupted only by major wars, owing to the lack of players and funding but curiously, on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, British soldiers played a cricket match in the Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels, to be called later La Pelouse des Anglais, The Englishmen’s Lawn.
Bowling of the ball as we know it today was not always in fashion. 'Round arm bowling' as it is known gathered pace in the 1820s, causing concern among traditionalists and rule-makers. What would cricket be like today if Dale Steyn delivered under-arm balls to Adam Gilchrist! In 1889 the four ball over was replaced by a five ball over and then, by 1900, the current six ball over was introduced, which remained except for a short period of experimental eight ball over games, ending with the break out of the Second World War in 1939.
One of the most significant crises to hit international cricket was the suspension of South Africa from international competition in 1970, which lasted until 1993 when the South African Government’s apartheid policies began crumbling. It was then that South Africa was restored to international competition and regained its glory.
Test cricket is not for everyone. In the 1960s, English country teams started playing one-innings games which grew in popularity and in 1969, a limited overs national league was created. Limited overs cricket was further enhanced by television, high-speed camera’s allowing for ultra-slow motion replays and review, and digital technology. Cricket analysis was no longer dependent on sharp eyes and experience eye but evolved with the availability of more exact analytics, which has lead to the introduction of the third umpire.
Today, most schools play cricket and enjoy the input of coaches and umpires who have been seasoned by a heritage of over 300 years. Not only do the scholars play for coveted team trophies but for equally important awards such as ‘bowler of the year’, ‘best fielder’ and ‘most improved player of the season’. Supporters are also awarded tokens of appreciation in the form of shields and medals, which adds to the spirit of this wonderful game. Long live cricket!