Cricket - Our History of the Classic Sporting Game

Cricket History of the Classic Game

This is Poker Skool UK and of course our Cricket History is based on Fact or Fiction or both, even we aren't sure the only thing we will say is please don't bet on wether we are right until you've checked out our facts for yourself.


It is believed that cricket was brought to the UK by none other than the French in the guise of the Norman Conquest. (have you noticed that we English refuse to call the only successful French invasion of England by that name.)


Cricket of course wasn't called that the Norman's referred to it has criquet.  The game was played with a wooden plank and instead of hitting balls they went around hitting cats.


During the 1600's Cricket was the cause of much hooliganism with several murder cases being caused by the victim being hit with a cricket-staffe. in 1628 10 men from East Lavant were fined 12d by an Archbishops Peculiar Court for playing cricket on the sabbath.


First Cricket Sponsor - 1668 saw the landlord of the Ram Public house in Smithfield, London paid the rates on a local field and set up his own cricket matches, which allowed him to sell a lot of beer to the crowds that turned up.


The Start of Cricket Gambling. - 1744 a match was arranged between the county of Kent and the Rest of England it was played at the Artillery Ground in London.  The crowd was a strange mixture of royalty and low lifes, this game was the first one in which rules were properly drawn up and Kent won by one wicket.  (there is no truth in the rumour that they haven't won since.) 


We're not sure who the bookmaker was that day but you can bet on every cricket game with Totesport.


A Bat and a Ball

Originally cricket bats were shaped something like a hockey stick, but in 1760 John Small invented the straight bat that we know today, however there was no set size and when Thomas White took the crease for a match in 1771 with a bat that was the width of the wickets, the cricketing rule makers decided that enough was enough and a maximum width for the bat was set at 41/2 inches this size has been with us ever since.


The Cricket ball was first made by Duke & Son of Penhurst, Kent in 1760 the ball was made by winding thread round a cork ball and wrapping the whole thing in a bullhide case which was then stitched with a big seam, again the ball has changed very little over the intervening years.


1775 saw the third stump introduced into the game, up until then there had only been two stumps which were set too far apart and on many occasion the ball used to pass between the stumps without hitting them.


MCC at Lord's

It soon became apparent that the aristocracy and rich couldn't keep playing with the riff raff of the day so they started their own elite clubs barring any but the very rich from playing, one club even wrote into it's rules 'none but gentlemen may play'.


It was an ungentlemanly player from this very club the White Conduit by the name of Thomas Lord, who very enterprisingly rented a field in Marylebone, put up an high fence to keep the scum out and then rented it to the rich and famous for an handsome profit, 12 months later in 1788 a new cricket club was formed called the Marylebone Cricket Club, playing at Lord's, the ground has moved several times since but has been at the present site since 1814.


Gambling, by the 1820's cricket was going through a mad gambling phase (some would say it still is.) Several enterprising chaps set about fixing matches so the could clean up on the betting.


There is a tale of two teams having both sold the match to fixers (unknown to each other.) Set about trying to lose the game unfortunately one of the teams had the Rev Lord Frederick Beauclerk in their side, he wasn't in on the scam and while everyone else was deliberately bowling badly, batsmen were trying their best to get caught or bowled out the valiant reverend broke his finger trying to stop a deliberate overthrow, batted one handed and finally led his team to an heroic victory, unfortunately they weren't very happy with him.  There is no record of what happened next.


Men in White Coats

The game of cricket initially was set up so batsman could have a lot of fun smashing balls all over the place, during the 1820's some bowlers were so fed up of having to bowl underarm that they started bowling round arm and by 1835 the rules were changed to allow bowling with the hand and arm upto shoulder height. 


There is a tale of one of the top round arm bowlers Johnnie Jackson of Nottingham who's deliveries were so fearsome that if the ball hit the batsman's legs and he was declared not out they would still go anyway, because they couldn't stand a repeat hit. 


It was about this time that due to the success of round arm bowling that umpires began to wear a white coat over their normal clothes to enable the batsman to see the ball being delivered. In 1864 overarm bowling was introduced and the modern day rules of cricket were laid down.


Cricket went global with the spread of Empire and it is reported that the Parsee of India were the first to accept this modern game, Strangely the first international match took place in 1844 between the USA and Canada.


WC Grace probably the most famous amateur cricketeer or all time, he played his first match in 1865 aged 16, he made more money from cricket than most professionals, he was the biggest draw in his day, unfortunately he knew it.  He was bowled first ball at one match, but he replaced the bails and told the umpire 'don't be silly, they've come to watch me bat not you umpire.'


He wasn't famous for being very sporting, one of his most notorious tactics was to gesture to a batsman to toss the ball back to him, if they obliged he would successfully appeal to have the chap given out for handling the ball.


We couldn't finish this potted history of cricket without mentioning Garfield Sobers, probably the greatest all rounder ever, he could bowl, swing, medium fast or spin he took 1,043 first class wickets, he dazzled as a fielder making 407 first class catches, and fibally was the most elegant of batsman making 28,315 first class runs, but his greatest claim to fame was 6, 6's from one over this happened at Nottingham in 1968 the unlucky bowler was Malcolm Nash.


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