The History Of Cricket

This article lists some important dates in the history of cricket. People and events that had an effect on the game are discussed.

The game of cricket is the second most popular game in the world, second only to soccer. Cricket appears to have an eventful and colorful history, although the exact origins of the game are unknown. As far back as the 1300's, a mention of the game "creag" is found. However it is unclear whether this is the beginnings of modern-day cricket. The name "cricket" may have come from the word "cric". The word cric stood for the hooked staffs carried by Shepards. These may have been the first cricket bats. Cricket in its early days in England was considered a child's game, not to be played by serious adults.

In 1598 there was a written record of a game called "creckett" or "crickett". This may be the first recorded mention of the game that is played today. By 1611 cricket had become an adult game. Considered illegal and immoral, two men were arrested for playing the game rather than going to church. More and more arrests were made as the game grew in popularity.

At the end of the English Civil War in 1648, the new government clamped down on recreational cricket that was played on Sundays. In these days cricket was played mostly by the working class and Sunday was their only opportunity to play. Interest in the sport seemed to diminish. As the years progressed, cricket once again regained popularity as a betting game. In the year 1688 the Puritan government of England was gone and the Monarchy was in power again. Cricket was favored by the government and regained some respectability. There were still huge problems in the world of cricket however. Betting and rioting marred the game. Around the year 1784 a London magistrate deemed cricket to be "respectable" even though there were still problems with wagering.

Finally in the year 1788 the "Laws of Cricket" were born. The Laws were written by the Marylebone Cricket Club. Except for some minor revisions, these laws are still adhered to in present day cricket. One notable change was in 1864 when over arm bowling was first used legally. Cricket is the only sport today that has laws instead of rules. Gaining even more respectability in the late 1700s, cricket became the game of "gentlemen". The Laws of Cricket were used for play in England and the Eastern United States. These laws covered the length of the pitch, the distance from the pitching crease to the bowling crease, wicket size, and ball weight.

The cricket fields were leveled and manicured in the 1800's. Up until this time the fields were rough and bumpy. South Africa and Australia began to play cricket seriously during this time. In the year 1844 the first international game of cricket was played in the state of New York in the United States. This match was played between the United States and Canada. Later, in 1877, England traveled to Australia for the first international test match. The match was played in Melbourne Australia. The Australians won the match by 45 runs.

A few years later in 1882, Australia again beat England. It was a close match with Australia winning by 8 runs. This prompted an English writer to publish an obituary for English cricket. The obituary pronounced it "dead". It went on to say that the body would be cremated and that the ashes would be spread over Australia. The next summer England played another series against Australia. This was dubbed by the press as an English endeavor to "reclaim the ashes". A small trophy filled with ashes was made and given to the British Captain. To this day, all test matches between England and Australia are said to be played "for the ashes".

In the year 1900 cricket made its first and only appearance in the Olympics. The match was between France and Britain. Most of the French players came from the British Embassy in France, so mostly British players played the match. Britain won the match and the gold medal. Today there is a renewed interest in cricket becoming an Olympic game.

The ICC was formed in 1909. The Imperial Cricket Conference was formed to govern the laws of cricket. The ICC is known today as the International Cricket Conference. The founding countries of the ICC were England, South Africa, and Australia.

The years 1932 and 1933 saw the laws of cricket being tightened. English players were throwing short-pitched balls at the Australian batters in an attempt at intimidation. England won this series, but ill feelings still exist between Australian and English players because of this series.

In the 1960's some English teams began playing a shortened version of cricket that allowed a match to be completed in only one day. Up until this time the average cricket match could last up to five days. Some fans and players felt this shortened form of cricket to be an insult to the game, so it was not widely accepted by traditional cricket fans. The first one-day international match was played in Melbourne, Australia in 1971. This match prompted the ICC to organize the "Cricket World Cup" to be played every four years. These matches are strictly one-day matches.

In 1981 the ICC banned underarm bowling as a result of a match between New Zealand and Australia. Australian captain Greg Chappell ordered his brother Trevor to use the underarm bowling technique to stop New Zealand from winning a match. Greg's actions angered many in the cricketing community prompting the change.

Today cricket remains a well-loved sport. Some young men in Australia and England grow up hoping to one day "play for the ashes". It is a sport steeped in tradition and its fans are loyal. Although the history of cricket was rocky at times, it's a solid sport that will be around for years to come.

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