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The Game of Cricket


The Game of Cricket

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									                         The Game of Cricket
The origins of cricket are very vague, and many theories have been put forward suggesting
its origins. Extensive studies and research have been conducted to trace its history and
they have come out with different versions. However it is commonly accepted that the
game originated from a very old leisure activity indulged by shepherds. The shepherds
used crook and other farm equipments to hit a ball like deceive which used to be made up
of wool or stone.

The first evidence of cricket being played was recorded in the year 1550, by the pupils of
Royal Grammar School, Guildford. In the year 1611 it is reported that two young men from
Sussex were punished for playing cricket instead of going to the church. The first match is
recorded to have been played at Coxheath in Kent in the year 1646.

Earlier cricket used to thrive greatly as a gambling game. People used to place huge
amounts of bets in matches and thus the game started to get recognition. Cricket was in fact
a major gambling sport towards the end of the 17th century. It is recorded that in the year
1679, a 11-a-side match was played with stakes as high as 50 guineas per side.

During the 18th century cricket survived and thrived due to the huge amounts of money via
monetary backing and gambling. The first instance of a match to be played between
counties in England is recorded to be on 29th June in the year 1709. This match was played
between Surrey and Kent at Dartford Brent.

The 18th century also witnessed the emergence of two types of cricket players. They were
known as the retained player and the individual player. Generally the retained player was
the servant of the lord and a cricketer as well. On the other hand the individual player was
free to play anywhere with his skills. Basically it was something like the player could play
anywhere with the amount of skill he possesses.

In the year 1787, the Marylebone Cricket Club also known MCC was created. The MCC has
since then gone on to become one of the most prominent bodies in world cricket. Cricket in
its initial days were restricted to the aristocratic class of England. Cricket gradually went on
to become the national game of England.

The late 18th century was a very crucial phase for the development of the game, both
within and outside Britain. The game was spread far and wide mainly due to England’s
imperialism. Wherever they went, the game went with them and thus spread outside
England. The first official match was held between Canada and United States was held in
the year 1844.

In the present times, cricket has its own following of loyal fans. The International Cricket
Council, better known as the ICC is the governing body in world cricket. The ICC was
founded on the 15th of June in the year 1909. All laws relating to ODIs and Test Cricket are
framed and implemented by the ICC.

The Measurements of Cricket
The measurements of most sports are in round numbers, except for a few of those that
have been converted to metric equivalents. The welter of precise measurements in cricket
seems distinct, but in fact some have quite a simple origin.

The Pitch
The earliest known Laws of Cricket, the "Code of 1744", give the length of the pitch as 22
yards. Over the centuries the often vague and regionally differing Saxon linear
measurements became standardized to give a mile (a survival of the old Roman
measurement of 1,000 double paces) as equal to 8 furlongs (i.e. "furrow long") or 320
perches (also called rods or poles) or 1,760 yards (from the Old English gyrd that meant
stick or twig) or 5,280 feet or 63,360 inches or 190,080 barley corns (e.g. in the thirteenth
century a royal Assize of Weights and Measures prescribed "the Iron Yard of our Lord the
King" at 3 feet of 12 inches or 36 barley corns). It will thus be seen that 22 yards is in fact
one tenth of a furlong or length of a furrow. There was an equally vague Saxon square
measurement of land, the hide (called also carucate, from the Latin for a plough, and
ploughland) which was the area required by one free family with dependents and that
could be ploughed with one plough and 8 oxen in one year. This was in turn divided into
four yardlands or 100 acres, the definition of which was the amount of land that could be
ploughed by one yoke of oxen in one day. In Norman times the acre became precisely
defined as 40 by 4 perches, thus preserving the shape of the Saxon strip-acre, i.e. one
furlong by one tenth of a furlong. The cricket pitch is therefore simply the breadth of the
Saxon strip-acre.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that cricket, which is believed to have had its
origins on the Weald that was used primarily as grazing ground for sheep rather than
ploughland, necessarily took the length of its pitch directly from this source, although the
largest Saxon mete-wand or measuring rod, the gad, continued in use into the early days of
cricket and was one perch in length, i.e. one quarter of the breadth of a furrow. In 1610
Edmund Gunter, an Oxford trained mathematician, now Professor of Astronomy at
Gresham College, London, invented as an instrument of measurement the chain, taking its
length from the breadth of the furrow and dividing it into 100 links of 7.92 inches each (i.e.
4 perches). By 1661 use of this chain had become sufficiently popular for the word to be
used to designate the measurement itself}. This chain became the common measuring tool
for land surveyors. We do not know when cricketers first wished to standardize their pitch,
but in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at least pitches were often physically
marked out with the use of Gunter's chain.

The Popping Crease
The distance between the bowling crease and the popping crease (i.e. the crease over
which the bat could be popped for safety) is given by the "Code of 1744" as 46 inches
(increased to 48 inches sometime before 1821). Before creases were marked in whitewash
in 1865 they were cut into the earth and were, as W.G. Grace remembered from his early
days, one inch deep and one inch wide. With allowance made of 1/2 inch from the centre of
each crease the distance between the inner edges of the creases was thus 45 inches, that is
the length of an ell. This was another Saxon measurement that had been standardized by
the time of Edward I who required that there should be an exact copy of his ell-wand in all
the towns of his realm. It was used regularly for measuring cloth (hence its later name of
clothyard), and indeed the king's alnager had the duty of checking that all cloth for sale was
one ell in width. It was thus a measurement that would have been very familiar to the
cricketing folk of the sheep-rearing Weald.

The Wicket
The ell's subdivision into 16 nails of 2 and 13/16 inches each probably accounts for the size
of the early wicket. According to the "Code of 1744" "Ye Stumps must be 22 inches long,
and ye Bail 6 inches". P.F. Thomas (who wrote under the pseudonymous H.P.-T.)
convincingly argues that these figures are a rounding off by the gentlemen of London of the
earlier rustic measurement of 8 nails by 2 nails, which would give a wicket of 22 and 1/2 by
5 and 5/8 inches. The addition of the third stump c. 1775 did not change the dimensions of
the wicket but since 1798 a series of alterations has brought them to the present 28 by 9
inches. The addition of the third stump did not immediately bring about the division of the
single bail into two bails (first mentioned in the Maidstone edition of the Laws c. 1786 but
not in a reputable edition until the early nineteenth century. It is interesting that even in
the 1950s bails were often sold as a single piece to be cut at the discretion of the

The Bat
There were no legal limits on the size of the bat until Shock White appeared in a match with
a weapon the width of the wicket, unsporting behaviour that led two days later to his
opponents, the Hambledon Club, writing the following minute: "In view of the performance
of one White of Ryegate on September 23rd that ffour (sic) and quarter inches shall be the
breadth forthwith. - this 25th day of September 1771". It is signed by its scribe Richard
Nyren and by T. Brett and J. Small and was speedily accepted elsewhere, occurring already
in the "Code of 1774". The Hambledonians promptly made an iron gauge to check the
implements of future opponents, but unfortunately it has been lost since it was purloined
by "a gentleman who took a fancy to it". Other similar gauges were, however,
manufactured, the one at Sheffield Park once catching out W.G. Grace. Approximately 4 and
1/4 inches is the standard width of all earlier known bats, the oldest being that owned by
John Chitty of Knaphill now in the pavilion at Kennington Oval that is dated to 1729. There
is tenuous evidence for an earlier period. The Roman Catholic College of Stonyhurst
removed to France and later Belgium during the religious persecution of the sixteenth
century and kept up a form of cricket that it brought back to England when forced to move
by the French revolution. A teacher who left the school in 1871 remembers its bats as being
blocks of probably alder wood about 3 feet long, "roughly oval in shape, about 4 and 1/2 in.
wide and 2 in. thick". This distinctive Stonyhurst cricket had remarkable wickets, stones
about 17 in. high, 13 in. wide and 8 in. thick at the bottom. There has never been any
limitation on the weight of the bat, one of 1771 weighing a monstrous 5 Ib.

The Ball
The "Code of 1744" prescribes that 'Ye Ball must weigh between 5 and 6 Ounces". Its
circumference was not specified until May 10th 1838 when it was put as between 9 and 9
and 1/4 inches. This lack of precision corroborates what one might suspect, that a ball was
the weight and size found convenient and that the difficulties of manufacture have
precluded even today any precise specification. The size of the wicket and other laws have
been frequently changed in attempts to be fair to both batsman and bowler. Is it not time
for further revisions of measurements? The principal problems today are the ease with
which even mis-hits go to the boundary and the sharply rising bouncers from tall fast
bowlers. It is impossible to push back the boundaries at most grounds (though Kennington
Oval and Grace Road, Leicester, for instance, do not use all the available playing area for
any one match), but a restriction on the weight of the bat would not only revive more
refined batsmanship but also once more enable slow bowlers to tempt batsmen to their
doom with catches in the deep. The length of the pitch was chosen by cricketers who
bowled, that is propelled the ball under arm, and were on average shorter than their
modern counterparts who can hurl their missile from far above their heads. Is it not time
that the pitch should be lengthened, that the old Saxon strip-acre should at last be left
fallow ?


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