Development of Cricket Through Time
England, April 9: Cricket is the world's second most popular sport regularly followed by up to 3 billion people. It is believed to have originated during Saxon or Norman times as a game for kids in either England or France. Since its humble beginnings, cricket went through a lot of alterations to become the sport it is today.
During Saxon and Norman times, cricket was only a children's game played for fun. Somewhere around the 16th century, it got accepted in the Southeast part of England, among the shepherds. They used to roll a ball of rags or wool on the short grass of pastures, aiming at the target. This was later on named bowling, which is a term present in modern cricket as well.
At the time, the target was called the wicket gate, and it was made of the sheep paddock. In front of it, there was a player who defended the gate with a bat created from the shepherd's crook.
The transition between the 17th and 18th century was a crucial period for the development of cricket. Its prominence rose quite fast and some people even avoided going to church to play cricket. There are stories that mention prosecution and penalties for such behavior.
However, once it became clear that the game has become an essential component of society, cricket went a step further.
First Match and Cricket Rules
Kent was the home of the first official cricket match in 1646. Until the end of the 17th century, the game became popular among the commonwealth. Some famous people, like Oliver Cromwell, are said to have enjoyed cricket in their free time.
After the Restoration in 1660, cricket was widely accepted and played by the English upper class. Wealthy noblemen interested in the game got the role of the first patrons. They started forming teams and paying people from villages to play for them.
This resulted in the formation of the first cricket rules. The ball and the wicket got their official dimensions and the presence of two umpires became a must.
Between the 1760s and 1770s, rolling the ball along the ground got replaced with pitching it through the air. These years were also important as the world's first cricket club was founded in Hambledon in the 1760s. Next was the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1787.
Cricket Goes International
While all of this was happening in England, British colonists traveled overseas and kept spreading the word about cricket. The game was presented to other countries, including North America, Australia, India, South Africa, and New Zealand.
The first international cricket match occurred in 1844 between Canada and the US. Then, in 1859, England sent a team of players to North America and wrote it down as the first overseas tour in the history of cricket.
From that year on, the competitions took place worldwide. In 1862, an English team went on a tour to Australia. Australian cricket players then visited England for the first time in 1868.
Evolution of Test Cricket and ICC
International competitions created a base for what we today call Test cricket. England and Australia were the first teams to play such a match in 1877 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This type of competition got widely accepted and expanded largely in the 1880s. Nowadays, Test matches are considered the highest level of cricket.
Apart from England and Australia, many other countries invested in the expansion of cricket and started playing it internationally. During the 20th century, countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland, and Afghanistan created a name for themselves in the world of Test cricket.
In 1909, representatives from England, Australia, and South Africa formed a global governing body in charge of the game. The name changed a couple of times until it got the official title of the International Cricket Council in 1989. Since then, this organization has been organizing Test cricket competitions, as well as all other major world championships.
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