The History of England

from Celts through 20th century


Category: Sport

Cricket is unquestionably the English summer game.” It has been played since the dawn of the eighteenth century. By 1744 a written code governing the game was in existence. Since 1788 the acknowledged, though unofficial, fountain of all cricket legislation has been Marylebone Cricket Club, better known by the famous initials M.C.C. Lord’s, its ground at St John’s Wood in north-west London is the Mecca of all cricketers. Pioneers of the game were the men of Hampshire, particularly of the village of Hambledon and the counties of Surrey and Kent. The first recorded game was played in 1697.

The bat is the principal emblem of the game. Its blade is made of white willow, the source of the symbolical King Willow before whom all players bend their backs. A match is played between two sides of eleven players each. The score is reckoned PY runs. The wickets* are pitched opposite one another at a distance of about 22 yards.

The two sides take turns at batting. The side that goes in to bat is said to be having its innings. Two of its players go into the field and take their place in front of the wickets, whilst the rest sit and await their turn. These two are the batsmen, and their task is to hit the ball delivered by the bowler standing by the other wicket, and stay in as long as possible.

The ball is bowled in Overs of six balls from each wicket alternately by two bowlers of the opposite team. In the meantime the other players of the opposite team have arranged themselves around the field, with the wicket-keeper behind the wicket facing the bowler in action. They are calledfielders or fieldsmen.

If the batsman hits hard enough, and it takes the fielders some time to retrieve the ball, he and his fellow-batsman make as many runs as they can afford to risk. A run is scored as often as the batsmen after a hit, or at any time while the ball is in play, have crossed the ground from one wicket to another.

The task of the players who are in the field is to get the batsmen out. Without going into technicalities, these are roughly some of the ways in which this can be done.

1. If the batsman sends the ball high up into the air,he may be caught out.

2. If the batsman misses the ball (when it is bowled), and it hits the wicket, so that the wicket is bowled down, the batsman is said to be bowled.

3. If one of the batsmen is out of his ground when the ball is retrieved by the wicket-keeper who“stumps’’ him by putting down the wicket. When a player is out the next one comes in to bat, and so it goes on until the eleven have completed an innings, and the sides exchange places. As has been mentioned, the side that scores more runs wins the game.

A cricket match may be a one-day match, or it may last two or three days, then it is called a two-day or a three-day match. The peak events in cricket are the test matches, combats between the national sides of England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and the West Indies.

They were started in 1877 at Melbourne, Australia, when the England eleven played a national Australian side.

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