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Origin of Cricket and Early Years

the author

Buvanesh Thiraviam

date post

May 02, 2024


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Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, having captivated billions of fans with its intense nature.

Once treated as a pastime, cricket has evolved into a professional game. However, it took several centuries to evolve into its current form.

The game’s longest format, Test cricket, has been played for more than 150 years. However, cricket’s origin dates back several centuries.

If you are a die-hard cricket fan, you must be curious to dig into cricket’s origin.

On that note, let’s delve into the origin of cricket and its early years.


Origin of Cricket

The exact origin of the sport is not known, however, there’s a popular theory. According to the theory, it is deemed that the sport must have been played for the first time in mid-16th century.

Back then, the bat and ball game was played by young boys somewhere in south-eastern England. However, with time, the sport was picked up by adults, and the first reference to the same dates back to around 1611.


Cricket in Pre-1799 Era

Since adults took up the sport, it was played locally in England for most of the 17th century. But at the end of the 17th century, cricket started to spread its wings across England and the world.

At the turn of the century, many clubs and counties sprung up across England. Whereas, the colonisers and marines took up the sport overseas, introducing it to the locals in those countries.

North America was introduced to cricket somewhere in the 17th century, even before it spread across some parts of England. Then, gradually, the sport reached the Caribbean islands, India, Australia, and New Zealand either via mariners or colonisers.


Growth of Cricket in England

Back in England, the game started to shape up with alterations in its gameplay and technique. Cricket started to gain traction among the locals, with huge crowds flocking to the Artillery Ground in Finsbury to watch matches.

The Laws of Cricket were formulated for the first time in 1744, with some amendments made to it in 1774. In between these years, many clubs started to gain prominence in London and Sussex.

Hampshire’s Hambledon Club, established in the 1960s, was the centre of cricket. After the formation of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the old Lord’s Ground in 1787, the Hambledon lost its foremost place to the MCC. Since then, MCC has been the custodian of the Laws of Cricket.


Cricket Becomes an International Sport

Cricket reached overseas countries as the British colonisers started to settle there. The colonisers, along with marines, introduced the sport in the West Indies and India in the first half of the 18th century. 

By the end of the 18th century, it had reached the coasts of Australia, followed by New Zealand and South Africa in the early 19th century.

Since the sport had arrived in North America in the 17th century, the USA and Canada played the first-ever international cricket match in 1844. Then Englishmen then toured North America for the first time in 1859, followed by a tour to Australia in 1862.

Cut to 1877, England and Australia played in the first-ever Test match in Melbourne. Soon, the tempting matches between England and Australia gave rise to the most fierce rivalry — the Ashes.

As the world entered the 20th century, more countries joined the Test format. In the first half of the century, the West Indies, New Zealand, and India gained Test status, while the second half saw Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe enter the fray.

At the start of the 21st century, Bangladesh earned Test status, followed by Ireland and Afghanistan in 2018.

In between these years, cricket saw the rise of 2 more formats — One Day International and Twenty 20 Cricket.


Final Words

Since the 16th century to date, cricket has grown by leaps and bounds, establishing it across the world. Once only considered a children’s game, the sport went through a transformation to become a professional game. 

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