|☛ Cricket grew out of the many stick and ball games played in England 500 years ago.
☛ The word bat is an old English word that simply means stick or club.
☛ By the 17th century, cricket had evolved enough to be recognisable as a distinct game.
☛ Till the middle of the 18th century, bats were roughly the same shape as hockey sticks curving outwards at the bottom. The reason for this was that 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.
- 1 Historical Development of Cricket as a Game in England
- 2 Changes in Cricket Due to MCC’s Revision of Laws
- 3 Cricket’s Connection With a Rural Past
- 4 Cricket in Victorian England
- 5 The Spread of Cricket
- 6 Cricket, Race and Religion
- 7 Cricket Tournaments in India
- 8 Decolonisation and Sport
- 9 Commerce, Media and Cricket Today
- 10 Kerry Packer’s Contribution
- 11 Shift of the ICC Headquarters from London
Historical Development of Cricket as a Game in England
(i) Peculiarities of Cricket
(a) A Test Match of cricket can go on for five days and still end in a draw.
(b) No other modern team sport takes even half as much time to complete.
(c) The size and shape of the ground is not specified.
(d) Most team sports such as hockey and football lay down the dimensions of the playing area, but cricket does not.
(e) Grounds can be Oval like the Adelaide Oval or nearly circular, like Chepauk in Chennai.
(ii) Codification of Cricket
(a) The first written Laws of Cricket’ were drawn up in 1774.
(b) These laws stated that ‘the principals shall choose from amongst the gentlemen present two umpires who shall absolutely decide on disputes’.
(c) The stumps must be 22 inches high and the bail across them six inches.
(d) The ball must be between 5 and 6 ounces and the two sets of stumps 22 yards apart.
(e) The world’s first cricket club was formed in Hambledon in the 1760s and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded in 1787.
(f) In 1788, MCC published the first revision of the laws and became the guardian of cricket’s regulations.
Changes in Cricket Due to MCC’s Revision of Laws
(i) A series of changes occurred in the game of cricket in the second half of the 18th century.
(ii) During the 1760’s and 1770, it became common to pitch the ball through the air rather than roll it along the ground.
(iii) The curved bat was replaced with the straight one.
(iv) The weight of the ball was limited to between 5½ to 5¾ ounces and the maximum width of the bat to 4 inches.
(v) In 1774, the first leg before law was published. Also around this time a third stump became common.
(vi) By 1780, three days had become the length of a major match; this year also saw the creation of the first six seam cricket ball.
Other Changes in Cricket
(i) The rule of wide balls was applied.
(ii) The exact circumference of the ball was specified.
(iii) Protective equipment like pads and gloves became available.
(iv) Boundaries were introduced; earlier all runs had to be run.
(v) Overarm bowling became legal.
Cricket’s Connection With a Rural Past
(i) 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 as long as it took to bowl out a side twice.
(ii) The rhythms of village life were slower and cricket’s rules were made before the industrial revolution.
(iii) Cricket’s vagueness about the size of the cricket ground is a result of its village origins. Cricket was played on country commons, unfenced land that was public property and the
size of the common playing grounds were of different sizes.
(iv) The game’s equipment remained fundamentally true to its origins in rural England.
(v) Cricket’s most important tools are all made of natural, pre-industrial materials.
(vi) The bat is made of wood, as are the stumps and the boils. The ball is made with leather, twine and cork. Even today the bat and ball handmade not industrially manufactured.
(vii) The material of the bat changed slightly with time. Once it was cut out of a single piece of wood. Now, it consists of two pieces : the blade which is made out of wood of the willow tree and the handle which is made out of cane.
(viii) Unlike golf and tennis, cricket has refused to make its balls with industrial or man made materials, plastic fibre and metal have been rejected.
(ix) In the matter of protective equipment; cricket has been influenced by technological change.
(x) The invention of vulcanised rubber led to introduction of pads in 1848 and protective gloves soon afterwards; also helmets made of metal and synthetic lightweight materials were introduced.
Cricket in Victorian England
(i) The organisation of cricket in England reflected the nature of English society.
(ii) Amateurs: The rich who could afford to play it for pleasure were called amateurs.
(iii) The rich covers amateurs for two reasons one, they considered sport a kind of leisure; Two, there was not enough money in the game for the rich to be interested.
(iv) They were called gentlemen.
(v) Professionals: The poor who played it for a living were called Professionals.
(vi) The wages of the Professionals were paid by patronage or subscription or gate money.
(vii) Most professionals worked as miners or in other forms of working class employment in the winter and off season.
(viii) Socially, the amateurs were superior and were called Gentlemen, while Professionals were called Players.
(ix) Amateurs tended to be batsmen and the Professionals were generally bowlers.
(x) The amateur would be the captain of a cricket team because he was a gentleman.
The Spread of Cricket
(i) While some English team games like hockey and football became international games played all over the world, cricket remained a colonial game.
(ii) Cricket remained limited to those countries that had once been part of the British Empire.
(iii) The British imperial officers brought the game to the colonies where the subjects were non-whites like India and the West Indies. Here, playing cricket become a sign of superior social and racial status.
(iv) The Afro-Caribbean population of the countries in the West Indies was discouraged from participating in organised club cricket. This remained dominated by white plantation owners and their servants.
(v) The first non-white club in the West Indies was established towards the end of the 19th century, and its members were the light skinned mulattos.
(vi) The blacks played informal cricket on beaches, in back alleys and parks. Cricket became hugely popular in the Caribbean.
Cricket, Race and Religion
(i) The first record we have of cricket being played in India is from 1721, an account of recreational cricket played by English sailors in Cambay.
(ii) Cricket in India was organised on the principles of race and religion.
(iii) The first Indian club, the Calcutta Cricket Club was established in 1792. Through the 18th century, cricket in India was almost wholly a sport played by British military men and civil servants in all white clubs and Gymkhanas.
(iv) Indians were considered to have no talent for the game and certainly not meant to play it.
(v) The origins of Indian cricket, that is cricket played by Indians, are to be found in Mumbai, earlier known as Bombay.
(vi) The first Indian community to start playing the game was the small community of zoroastrians, the Parsis.
(vii) Parsis came into close contact with the British because of their interest in trade and this was the first Indian community to Westernise.
(viii) The Parsis founded the first Indian Cricket Club, the Oriental Cricket Club, in Bombay in 1848.
(ix) They built their own Gymkhana to play cricket.
(x) A Parsi team beat the Bombay Gymkhana at cricket in 1885.
Cricket Tournaments in India
(i) First class cricket was organised on communal and racial lines.
(ii) Quadrangular : The tournament was called Quadrangular because it was played by four teams: the Europeans, the Parsis, the Hindus and the Muslims.
(iii) Pentangular : The Quadrangular later became the Pentangular when a fifth team was added namely, the rest, which comprised of all the communities left over, such as Indian Christians. Vijay Hazare, a Christian, played for the rest.
(iv) The Pentangular was criticised because of its racial and communal foundations.
(v) Mahatma Gandhi condemned the Pentangular as communally divisive competition that was out of place at a time when nationalists were trying to unite India’s diverse population.
(vi) A rival first class tournament on regional lines, the National Cricket Championship (later renamed Ranji Trophy) was established.
(vii) CK Nayudu, Palwankar Vithal and Palwankar Baloo were the famous players of that era.
Decolonisation and Sport
(i) Decolonisation led to the decline of British influence in trade, commerce and military affairs and inevitably in sporting matters.
(ii) The Imperial Cricket Council (ICC) was renamed as the International Cricket Conference as late as 1965. Till then England and Australia could veto its proceedings.
(iii) England, Australia and New Zealand continued is play Test Cricket with South Africa, a racist state that followed a policy of racial segregation, which, among other things, barred non-whites from representing that country in Test Matches.
(iv) India, Pakistan and West Indies boycotted South Africa.
(v) Due to political pressure and pressure of cricket playing non-white countries, Britain cancelled a cricket tour to South Africa.
Commerce, Media and Cricket Today
(i) The 1970’s was the decade in which cricket transformed; it was a time when the traditional game evolved to fit a changing world.
(ii) 1971 was a landmark year because the first One Day International was played between England and Australia in Melbourne.
(iii) Enormous popularity of the game led to the first World Cup being successfully staged in 1975.
(iv) In 1977, cricket celebrated 100 years of test matches.
Kerry Packer’s Contribution
(i) Kerry Packer, an Australian television tycoon, signed up fifty of the world’s leading cricketers and staged unofficial Tests and One Day Internationals under the name of World Series Cricket.
(ii) The innovations introduced during this time changed the nature of the game.
(iii) Coloured dress, protective helmets, field restrictions and cricket under lights became a standard part of the post Packer game.
(iv) Cricket boards became rich by selling television rights to television companies.
(v) Television channels made money by selling sports to companies to air commercials for their products.
(vi) Television coverage made cricketers celebrities, who made large sums of money by making commercials from tyres to colas on television.
(vii) Television coverage changed the game of cricket. The audience for the game expanded because it was being telecast live into small towns and villages.
(viii) Satellite technology created a global market for cricket. Matches in Sydney could now be watched in Surat.
Shift of the ICC Headquarters from London
(i) India had the largest viewership for the game amongst the cricket playing nations and the largest market in the cricketing world. Therefore, the games centre of gravity shifted to South Asia.Anglo-Australian domination sover the game.
(ii) Pakistan has pioneered two great advances in bowling: the ‘doosra’ and the ‘reverse swing’. Both skills were developed in response to sub-continental conditions.
(iii) The doosra was to counter aggressive batsmen with heavy modern bats who were threatening to make finger spin obsolete, and ‘reverse swing’ to move the ball in on dusty
unresponsive crickets under clear skies.
(iv) Initially, both these techniques were treated with suspicion by countries like England and Australia, which saw them as an underhand, illegal bending of the laws of cricket.
(v) In time, they became part of the technique of bowlers everywhere in the world.
(vi) One hundred and fifty years ago the first Indian cricketers, the Parsis had to struggle to find, an open field to play in. Today, the global marketplace has made Indian players the
best paid and most famous cricketers in the game.