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Cricket

india-vsengland-11th-match-group-b-world-cup-2011.jpg Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on a field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the runs scored by the batting team. A run is scored by the striking batsman hitting the ball with his bat, running to the opposite end of the pitch and touching the crease there without being dismissed. The teams switch between batting and fielding at the end of an innings.

In professional cricket the length of a game ranges from 20 overs of six bowling deliveries per side to Test cricket played over five days. The Laws of Cricket are maintained by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) with additional Standard Playing Conditions for Test matches and One Day Internationals.

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind Association football. Cricket was first played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, it had developed into the national sport of England. The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas and by the mid-19th century the first international matches were being held. The ICC, the game's governing body, has ten full members. The game is played particularly in Australasia, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies, Southern Africa and England.

History

Early cricket was at some time or another described as "a club striking a ball (like) the ancient games of club-ball, stool-ball, trap-ball, stob-ball". Cricket can definitely be traced back to Tudor times in early 16th-century England. Written evidence exists of a game known as creag being played by Prince Edward, the son of Edward I (Longshanks), at Newenden, Kent in 1301 and there has been speculation, but no evidence, that this was a form of cricket.

don-bradman-last-innings.jpgA number of other words have been suggested as sources for the term "cricket". In the earliest definite reference to the sport in 1598, it is called creckett. Given the strong medieval trade connections between south-east England and the County of Flanders when the latter belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, the name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch krick(-e), meaning a stick (crook); or the Old English cricc or cryce meaning a crutch or staff. In Old French, the word criquet seems to have meant a kind of club or stick. In Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, he derived cricket from "cryce, Saxon, a stick". Another possible source is the Middle Dutch word krickstoel, meaning a long low stool used for kneeling in church and which resembled the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket. According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, "cricket" derives from the Middle Dutch phrase for hockey, met de (krik ket)sen (i.e., "with the stick chase"). Dr Gillmeister believes that not only the name but the sport itself is of Flemish origin.

The earliest definite reference to cricket being played in England (and hence anywhere) is in evidence given at a 1598 court case which mentions that "creckett" was played on common land in Guildford, Surrey, around 1550. The court in Guildford heard on Monday, 17 January 1597 (Julian date, equating to the year 1598 in the Gregorian calendar) from a 59 year-old coroner, John Derrick, who gave witness that when he was a scholar at the "Free School at Guildford", fifty years earlier, "hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play [on the common land] at creckett and other plaies." It is believed that it was originally a children's game but references around 1610 indicate that adults had started playing it and the earliest reference to inter-parish or village cricket occurs soon afterwards. In 1624, a player called Jasper Vinall was killed when he was struck on the head during a match between two parish teams in Sussex.

During the 17th century, numerous references indicate the growth of cricket in the south-east of England. By the end of the century, it had become an organised activity being played for high stakes and it is believed that the first professionals appeared in the years following the Restoration in 1660. A newspaper report survives of "a great cricket match" with eleven players a side that was played for high stakes in Sussex in 1697 and this is the earliest known reference to a cricket match of such importance.

The game underwent major development in the 18th century and became the national sport of England. Betting played a major part in that development with rich patrons forming their own "select XIs". Cricket was prominent in London as early as 1707 and large crowds flocked to matches on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury. The single wicket form of the sport attracted huge crowds and wagers to match. Bowling evolved around 1760 when bowlers began to pitch the ball instead of rolling or skimming it towards the batsman. This caused a revolution in bat design because, to deal with the bouncing ball, it was necessary to introduce the modern straight bat in place of the old "hockey stick" shape. The Hambledon Club was founded in the 1760s and, for the next 20 years until the formation of MCC and the opening of Lord's Old Ground in 1787, Hambledon was both the game's greatest club and its focal point. MCC quickly became the sport's premier club and the custodian of the Laws of Cricket. New Laws introduced in the latter part of the 18th century included the three stump wicket and leg before wicket (lbw).

The 19th century saw underarm bowling replaced by first roundarm and then overarm bowling. Both developments were controversial. Organisation of the game at county level led to the creation of the county clubs, starting with Sussex CCC in 1839, which ultimately formed the official County Championship in 1890. Meanwhile, the British Empire had been instrumental in spreading the game overseas and by the middle of the 19th century it had become well established in India, North America, the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In 1844, the first international cricket match took place between the United States and Canada (although neither has ever been ranked as a Test-playing nation).

In 1859, a team of England players went on the first overseas tour (to North America). The first Australian team to tour overseas was a team of Aboriginal stockmen who travelled to England in 1868 to play matches against county teams. In 1862, an English team made the first tour of Australia and in 1876–77, an England team took part in the first-ever Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Australia.

W.G. Grace started his long career in 1865; his career is often said to have revolutionised the sport. The rivalry between England and Australia gave birth to The Ashes in 1882 and this has remained Test cricket's most famous contest. Test cricket began to expand in 1888–89 when South Africa played England. The last two decades before the First World War have been called the "Golden Age of cricket". It is a nostalgic name prompted by the collective sense of loss resulting from the war, but the period did produce some great players and memorable matches, especially as organised competition at county and Test level developed.

The inter-war years were dominated by one player: Australia's Don Bradman, statistically the greatest batsman of all time. It was the determination of the England team to overcome his skill that brought about the infamous Bodyline series in 1932–33, particularly from the accurate short-pitched bowling of Harold Larwood. Test cricket continued to expand during the 20th century with the addition of the West Indies, India, and New Zealand before the Second World War and then Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in the post-war period. However, South Africa was banned from international cricket from 1970 to 1992 because of its government's apartheid policy.

Cricket entered a new era in 1963 when English counties introduced the limited overs variant. As it was sure to produce a result, limited overs cricket was lucrative and the number of matches increased. The first Limited Overs International was played in 1971. The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) saw its potential and staged the first limited overs Cricket World Cup in 1975. In the 21st century, a new limited overs form, Twenty20, has made an immediate impact.

Types of matches

Cricket is a multi-faceted sport which, in very broad terms, can be divided into major cricket and minor cricket based on playing standards. A more pertinent division, particularly in terms of major cricket, is between matches in which the teams have two innings apiece and those in which they have a single innings each. The former, known as first-class cricket, has a duration of three to five days (there have been examples of "timeless" matches too); the latter, known as limited overs cricket because each team bowls a limit of typically 50 or 20 overs, has a planned duration of one day only (a match can be extended if necessary due to bad weather, etc.).

Typically, two-innings matches have at least six hours of playing time each day. Limited overs matches often last six hours or more. There are usually formal intervals on each day for lunch and tea with brief informal breaks for drinks. There is also a short interval between innings. Historically, a form of cricket known as single wicket had been extremely successful and many of these contests in the 18th and 19th centuries qualify as major cricket matches. In this form, although each team may have from one to six players, there is only one batsman at a time and he must face every delivery bowled while his innings lasts. Single wicket has rarely been played since limited overs cricket began.

Test cricket

Test cricket is the highest standard of first-class cricket. A Test match is an international fixture between teams representing those countries that are Full Members of the ICC.

Although the term "Test match" was not coined until much later, Test cricket is deemed to have begun with two matches between Australia and England in the 1876–77 Australian season. Subsequently, eight other national teams have achieved Test status: South Africa (1889), West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1929), India (1932), Pakistan (1952), Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992) and Bangladesh (2000). Zimbabwe suspended its Test status in 2006 due to its inability to compete against other Test teams, and returned in 2011.

cricket---the-ashes-2009--001.jpgWelsh players are eligible to play for England, which is in effect an England and Wales team. The West Indies team comprises players from numerous states in the Caribbean, notably Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands.

Test matches between two teams are usually played in a group of matches called a "series". Matches last up to five days and a series normally consists of three to five matches. Test matches that are not finished within the allotted time are drawn. In the case of Test and first-class cricket: the possibility of a draw often encourages a team that is batting last and well behind to bat defensively, giving up any faint chance at a win to avoid a loss.

Since 1882, most Test series between England and Australia have been played for a trophy known as The Ashes. Some other bilateral series have individual trophies too: for example, the Wisden Trophy is contested by England and West Indies; the Frank Worrell Trophy by Australia and West Indies and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia.

Limited overs

Standard limited overs cricket was introduced in England in the 1963 season in the form of a knockout cup contested by the first-class county clubs. In 1969, a national league competition was established. The concept was gradually introduced to the other major cricket countries and the first limited overs international was played in 1971. In 1975, the first Cricket World Cup took place in England. Limited overs cricket has seen various innovations including the use of multi-coloured kit and floodlit matches using a white ball.

lee.jpgA "one day match", named so because each match is scheduled for completion in a single day, is the common form of limited overs cricket played on an international level. In practice, matches sometimes continue on a second day if they have been interrupted or postponed by bad weather. The main objective of a limited overs match is to produce a definite result and so a conventional draw is not possible, but matches can be undecided if the scores are tied or if bad weather prevents a result. Each team plays one innings only and faces a limited number of overs, usually a maximum of 50. The Cricket World Cup is held in one day format and the last World Cup in 2011 was won by the co-hosts, India. The next World Cup will hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

india-v-bangladesh-icc-twenty20-world-cup-1bqyuqczac5l.jpgTwenty20 is a new variant of limited overs itself with the purpose being to complete the match within about three hours, usually in an evening session. The original idea, when the concept was introduced in England in 2003, was to provide workers with an evening entertainment. It was commercially successful and has been adopted internationally. The inaugural Twenty20 World Championship was held in 2007 and won by India. 2009's Twenty20 World Championship was staged in England and won by Pakistan. The next Twenty20 World Championship will be held in the West Indies. After the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 many domestic Twenty20 leagues were born. First of them was Indian Cricket League which is a rebel league since it is unauthorized by BCCI and led to form an official league called the Indian Premier League. Both these leagues are cash rich and attracted players and audience around the globe. Recently Twenty20 Champions League was formed as a tournament for domestic clubs of various countries.

National championships

First-class cricket includes Test cricket but the term is generally used to refer to the highest level of domestic cricket in those countries with full ICC membership, although there are exceptions to this. First-class cricket in England is played for the most part by the 18 county clubs which contest the County Championship. The concept of a champion county has existed since the 18th century but the official competition was not established until 1890. The most successful club has been Yorkshire County Cricket Club with 30 official titles.

Australia established its national first-class championship in 1892–93 when the Sheffield Shield was introduced. In Australia, the first-class teams represent the various states. New South Wales has won the maximum number of titles with 45 to 2008.

National championship trophies to be established elsewhere included the Ranji Trophy (India), Plunket Shield (New Zealand), Currie Cup (South Africa) and Shell Shield (West Indies). Some of these competitions have been updated and renamed in recent years.

Domestic limited overs competitions began with England's Gillette Cup knockout in 1963. Countries usually stage seasonal limited overs competitions in both knockout and league format. In recent years, national Twenty20 competitions have been introduced, usually in knockout form though some incorporate mini-leagues.