Cricket is a team sport involving a bat and ball played between two teams of eleven players each. The objective is to score more runs (points) than the opposing team. A match is divided into innings during which one team bats, two batsmen at a time, and the other team bowls.
Cricket's most likely birthplace is the Weald, an area of dense woodlands and clearings in south-east England that lies across Kent and Sussex. The game was probably devised by children of the Weald's farming and metalworking communities. There is evidence to suggest that it survived as a children's game for many centuries before it was increasingly taken up by adults around the beginning of the 17th Century. The game's origin seems to have been in Norman or perhaps Saxon times (i.e., before 1066).
According to some other theories, cricket originated outside England and was brought there by the Normans after 1066. As early as the 8th century, bat and ball games were played in the Punjab region of southern Asia — the ancestors of games such as gilli-danda and perhaps polo. Like the other great recreational import of the time, chess, these sports are believed to have migrated via Persia and through Constantinople into Europe. There are 8th and 9th century accounts of bat and ball games being played in the Mediterranean region, sometimes as church-sponsored events to promote community spirit. If the games reached France in this manner, it is reasonable to assume they would cross the Channel and be introduced in England. But all of this is speculation and there is general agreement among cricket historians that the sport did originate in south-east England.
Early references are few, far between and sometimes spurious. Some manuscripts from the 12th and 13th centuries show diagrams which have been interpreted as early forms of cricket, but there is no definite evidence to support these conjectures. In c.1183, Joseph of Exeter wrote an account of a community activity played by both sexes which he called cricks, but there is nothing to prove that it was a form of cricket. The evidence is circumstantial only.
The first clue we have which is reasonably convincing comes from the Royal Wardrobe accounts of King Edward I (aka "Edward Longshanks") for 1299-1300. This records that £6 was paid out for the 15-year old Prince Edward to play creag and other games at Newenden in Kent. Although there is no evidence that creag was a form of cricket, it does at least seem a likely suspect, especially given the location.
In 1597 there was a dispute over a school's ownership of a plot of land in which a 59-year old coroner, John Derrick, testified that he and his school friends had played kreckett on the site fifty years earlier. This is generally considered to be the first definite mention of cricket in the English language - the school was the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, and Mr Derrick's account proves beyond reasonable doubt that the game was being played c.1550.
Until the 17th Century, cricket may have developed primarily as a boy's game. The first reference to it being played as an adult sport was in 1611, when two men in Sussex were prosecuted for playing cricket instead of going to church.
Cricket had certainly become a significant gambling sport by the end of the 17th century. We know of a "great match" played in Sussex in 1697 which was 11-a-side and played for high stakes of 50 guineas a side.
During the 18th Century, cricket thrived because of the money it attracted through patronage and gambling to become a major sport. In 1748, a London magistrate accepted that cricket is a "manly game" that was not bad in itself, but condemned its "ill use" by betting above the legal limit.
Cricket is played between two teams of eleven players each. It is a bat-and-ball game played on a roughly elliptical grass field, in the centre of which is a hard, flat strip of ground some 22 yards long, called the pitch.
At each end of the pitch stand a set of wooden poles called a wicket (traditionally made from the wood of the ash tree). A player from one team (the bowler) propels a hard, fist-sized ball from one wicket towards the other. A player from the opposing team (the batsman) attempts to defend the ball from hitting the wicket with a wooden cricket bat, traditionally made of willow. Another batsman (the non-striker) stands in an inactive role near the bowler's wicket.
If the batsman hits the ball with his bat, he may run to the other wicket, exchanging places with the non-striker. This scores a run. The batting team attempts to score as many runs as it can, while members of the bowling team gather the ball and return it to either wicket. If the ball strikes a wicket while the nearest batsman is still running, the batsman is out. Batsmen can also be out by other means, such as failing to defend the bowled ball from hitting the wicket, or hitting a catch to a fielder.
Once out, a batsman is replaced by the next batsman in the team. As there must always be two batsmen on the field, if and when the tenth batsman is out, the team's turn to bat or innings (always with a terminal "s" in cricket usage) is over, and the other team may bat while the first team takes the field. Depending on the specific rules of the match, one or two innings may be played, possibly with a fixed number of legally-bowled balls defining the end of an innings rather than ten batsmen having been dismissed. At the end of the match, the winner is the team that has scored the most runs. However, the game may run out of time before it is finished, in which case it is a draw, even if one team is overwhelmingly winning at that point. This is sometimes surprising to those not familiar with the game, but it does add interest to one-sided games by giving the inferior team the incentive to try and achieve a draw even if they cannot win.
Cricket Around the World
Cricket teams are generally associated with or called "clubs" and as such do not have mascots (unlike rugby or basketball for instance]]. Thus there is a Raintree County Cricket Club in Jacobia and a Cricket Club of Midian in Ontario as well as Harvard University Cricket Club.
In the NAL, however, the tradition has arisen of giving the teams themselves names--the Philadephia Covies, Breuckelen Trollies, Chicago Pups, Atlanta Redcoats, Toronto Owls, Montgomery Palefaces, etc. This is atypical of the sport in general.
Nations where cricket is popularly played are generally:
- Australasia (itself comprised of the Australian continent and the Kingdom of Aotearoa)
- Cambrian Guyana
- East Caribbean Province: Leeward Islands (Anguila Antigua & Barbuda; St. Kitts and Nevis) and the Windward Islands (Dominica; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Barbadoes; Grenada; Trinidad and Tobago)
- English Guyana
- Grand Fenwick
- Somer Islands
- India (especially in the Indo-British and Batavian colonies, but also very popular in the sovereign states)
- Bombay (Scottish)
- Calcutta (English)
- Madras (Kemrese)
- Kingdom of Madagascar
- Kingdom of Malta
- Margarita Islands
- North American League / Solemn League and Covenant
- South African Union
- Tortuga Islands
- West Caribbean Province: Turc e Chaicoes and Caiman.
- Ireland (incorporating Montserrat), though it's considered very much a minority sport.
- New Francy (only one club, the defunct Ville-Marie's Expats Cricket Club, mostly just an ex-pat sport)
- Batavian Kingdom
Citizens of countries where cricket is not played, such as Oltenia, Montrei and Tibet, generally find the game totally baffling. Indeed, some go so far as to call the game a titanic hoax, a practical joke of monumental proportions to allow the English-, Scots-, and Kemrese-speaking world a laugh at everyone else. In counter-point to this, it should be noted that many native speakers of English, Scots and Kemrese are no less puzzled by the game than others. However, its adherents are still many and their devotion to the game intense.
Cricket in the NAL is notable in that it is played by both men and women, though they usually have segregated teams and leagues.
"Not cricket" has become slang in some circles (mostly fairly aristocratic ones) for "in violation of civilized ways of behavior." This is considered generally a symptom of England's view of itself as Top Nation.
Some trivia experts insist that cricket is an extremely straightforward and normal recreation compared to many of the various sports that have originated in Scotland, which include "tossing a tree" and "sweeping the ice for a rock."
Interestingly enough, some countries such as Cuba, parts of Saint-Domingue and Porto Rico, which are by no means from cricket-crazy cultures, have taken something of a shine to the sport, likely due to the presence of immigrant communities in the NAL who regularly visited the homeland or repatriated. However, it is not considered to even come close to the popularity of association football, and is still largely a minority sport.
As football and rugby gain in popularity in the NAL-SLC, some experts on sports have suggested that Americans are slowly losing interest in what used to be one of the most popular sports from New Amsterdam to Saint Francis; however, others refute this, pointing out that cricket is second only to basketball in the amount of youngsters playing it, even if more people prefer to watch lacrosse,hibercrosse, football, or rugby.