The History of Cricket
Nobel-prize winning playwright Harold Pinter once remarked, “I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth – certainly greater than sex, although sex isn’t too bad either.” Though offered in jest, Pinter makes a good point; today, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, runner-up only to Association Football!
The word “cricket” is derived from the Old French word, “creckett,” which is one of the many old-English language variations for the word, “stick.”
The earliest evidence of cricket’s origins can date as far back as 1301 in Newenden, Kent, but it wasn’t until 1611 when cricket was first recognised as a sport — right around the time when two men were prosecuted for playing cricket on Sunday, rather than going to church!
In 1697, cricket was first referenced as a “great match,” and was played with eleven players per side for fifty guineas, in Sussex, England. The game underwent major development during the 18th century to eventually become the national sport of England.
In 1709, the first recorded inter-county match was held between Kent and Surrey. Flash-forward a few decades later to 1729 — now memorialized as the year in which the earliest surviving cricket bat was made (which is now housed in the pavilion at The Oval).
In 1744, the “Laws of Cricket” were issued by the London Club; formalising the pitch as being 22 yards long. In 1760, the modern straight bat replaces the old “hockey stick” shape.
1771 introduced the ruling of bat width, limited to 4 1/4 inches, where it has remained ever since! Seven years later in 1778, George Washington’s troops played what they called “wickets” at Valley Forge during the summer time.
In 1844, the first ever international cricket game was held between the USA and Canada and played at the grounds of the St George’s Cricket Club in New York.
For those who may not know, Test cricket is the longest form of the sport of cricket, and Test matches are played between national representative teams with “Test status.” 1877 was the year that saw the first Test match held in Melbourne; resulting in Australia’s 45-run win over England in Melbourne. Three years later in 1880, the First Test was held in England: a 5-wicket win against Australia at The Oval.
1889 was the year that marked South Africa’s first Test match. In 1909, the Imperial Cricket Conference (or “ICC” for short) was founded. Original members included the nations of England, Australia, and South Africa.
In 1928, the West Indies held their first Test match, and two years later in 1930, New Zealand held their first Test match. 1932 was the year of India’s first Test match, and in 1948, England held its first, five-day Tests.
Pakistan’s first Test match was held in 1952, and 1960 was the year that marked the first tied Test, (Australia versus West Indies in Brisbane).
1975 saw the first World Cup, in which the West Indies beat Australia in the final at Lord’s. A few years later in 1982, Sri Lanka’s joined ranks to hold its first Test match. One decade later in 1992, Zimbabwe’s held its first Test match, and the year 2000 saw Bangladesh’s first Test match.