History of Cricket

The origins of cricket are obscure, and there are several theories on how it started. 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 cricket. Other theories are that it derives from a game called club-ball, or a game played in churchyards...

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 took place at Coxheath in Kent in 1646. The first match between counties on 29th June 1709, when Surrey played Kent at Dartford Brent.

The earliest known cricket photographs were taken in 1857, by Roger Fenton at the Artillery Ground, when the Royal Artillery played Hunsdonbury.

As well as shepherds' crooks, early bats were clubs and sticks. These gave way to long, thin battes, which looked a bit like straightened-out hockey sticks, because the ball was bowled under-arm, and the batters swung their bats like clubs!!

By the 18th century, the bat had developed into a longer, heavier, curved version of the one we know now, carved out of a single piece of wood.

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. Rather dangerous really, and 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. The size has varied too - in the 17th century, were up to two metres wide!! The bails are the two bits of wood on the top, and if they fall off, it's all over!!

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