2002-08-15 / Other News

Origins Of The Game Of

Cricket Are Uncertain
By Askia Amon-Ra

No one can say in all certainty where the game of cricket originated. The origins are obscured, unrecorded and the source of much speculation. But there are two major theories concerning the derivation of the word cricket.

One is that shepherds used to play it - one would stand in front of the wicket gate to the sheep fold, and another would bowl a stone or something at him, and he would have to hit it with his crook, which was known as a cricce, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning a crooked staff.

The other theory traces the word ‘criquet’ to the Flemish or Dutch krick-stoel, a piece of furniture on which one kneels in church. A low stool between 18 inches and 2 feet in length once generally called a ‘cricket’ in England, its profile is very similar to that of the long, low wicket in early cricket.

The first reference to cricket being played is thought to be in 1300, between Prince Edward and his friend Piers Gaveston and the first recorded match was June 29, 1709, when Sur-rey played Kent at Dartford Brent.

The earliest bats were sticks and, probably, shepherds’ crooks. These gave way to clubbed sticks before the introduction of the batte, with its long, thin shaft and curved thicker end not unlike a slightly straightened-out hockey stick. The clubbed design of these first bats was dictated by the type of bowling encountered, which was similar to that in the game of bowls – underarm and all along the ground.

Today’s bat was invented around 1853, with the blade made of willow, and a cane handle, which is layered with strips of rubber, tied with twine, and covered with rubber to make a grip. The ‘V’ shaped extension of the handle into the blade is the splice. The early balls were stones and other missiles. These proved to be really dangerous and it’s not surprising that someone came up with an alternative! They’re now made of cork, and covered with hand-stitched leather quarters dyed red.

The wicket - the stumps are the three posts. Originally there were two, and at one point, four. Though the size of the wicket over time has varied, what’s remained the same is if the bails (the two bits of wood atop the wicket) fall off it’s all over!

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