In the late 16th century, the history of cricket sport is known to have begun. The game originated in England, among shepherds using their crooks as bats, and the earliest wickets may well have been narrow sheep pens. The earliest men’s games that were officially recorded (from law court records) were played in southeast England in the 1550s. Initially a single wicket was used, as it still is in ancient games like stoolball that continue to be played in southern England.
The poet John Skelton describes immigrants from Flanders living in southern England playing creckette. When described in a coroner’s report of teen games in Guildford, this evolved into Crickett (1598). All this sounds probable to describe the origin of the word ‘cricket’.
The game itself evolved from a variety of folk hitabouts played in villages on both sides of the Channel, each with its own local idiosyncrasies. Early forms of cricket were only played in the downlands and woodlands of south-east England, especially West Sussex and the Weald of Kent.
The first game was played in 1646 in Coxheath, close to Maidstone. A tree stump was used, but as there weren’t many trees on the downs of Sussex and Kent, where the game had a stronghold, a new target had to be identified—the “wicket-gate,” through which swarms of sheep went.
This gate took the form of a minor hurdle, comprising two uprights known as stumps. The stumps were 12 inches high and set 24 inches apart. On top of them was laid a crosspiece, known to this day in Australian meadows as a bail. Due to the fact that there was no room for debate when the bail hit the ground, it made a better target than a tree stump.
At White Conduit Fields in Islington, the Artillery Ground in Finsbury, and Kennington Common, cricket was being played nonstop by the year 1730. The ‘bat’ resembled a hockey stick. Before seventeenth-century cobblers started stitching a leather cover around cork stuffing, the ball was originally just a circular piece of wood.
In 1774 the laws were amended to assure the ball should not weigh over 5¾ ounces and no less than 5½ ounces. Fast, underarm bowls that rolled along the ground were a common style of bowling at the period, and this was reflected in the bat’s shape.
Instead of rolling the ball along the ground, it was more usual in the 1760s and 1770s to pitch the ball through the air. This important development provided the bowler the ability to use length, air trickery, and greater pace. Additionally, it provided new spin and swerve options.
Batsmen used different strategies in response to the demands made on them by airborne bowling. They now needed to perfect their timing and stroke choice. This development improved the game more than any other in the eyes of the viewer. Batsmen had a lot more options for scoring runs even bowlers had a lot more options for getting them out.
Hambledon Cricket Club
Although historical evidence indicates that the Weald region between Kent and Sussex is where cricket was first played, the Hambeldon Club in Hampshire is largely regarded as cricket’s spiritual home. The Hambledon Club in Hampshire is credited with being the birthplace of contemporary competitive or professional cricket.
The world’s first cricket club was established in Hambledon in the 1760s. Midway through the 1780s, some of the members of that club established the White Conduit Club in London, which later changed its name to The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
For around 30 years, Hambledon was the top club in England, frequently bringing 20,000 crowd to its games on Broad Halfpenny Down. In 1777, Hambledon defeated All England and scored 403 runs, demonstrating its power. Hambledon’s influence was lost when the Marylebone Cricket Club was founded and brought notable players to London.
Cricket in the United States
In the history of cricket, the first ever international cricket match was played between the US and Canada in Manhattan’s Bloomingdale Park in September 1844. The match was in fact between two clubs, but the America’s Cup was also between two clubs. Even though the majority of the participants were from the St. George’s Club of New York and The Toronto Cricket Club.
The match was declared to be between the United States of America and the Canadian Province of the British Empire. An audience of about 50,000 people attended to watch this game. Cricket was the most popular sport in the US at the time. It was broadcast all over the nation. No matter their social rank, all men played it. An English team also toured there in 1859.
Cricket in Olympics
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