Although playing with ball and bat was already known in the Middle Ages and will undoubtedly be older, British historians believed that the sport originated around 1600 in South East England. However, according to French historians, cricket is a French game and the English adopted it during the Hundred Years’ War.
According to more recent Australian research, cricket originated in Flanders. This theory is supported by the discovery of a 1533 poem attributed to John Skelton in which Flemish weavers are described as ‘kings of crekettes’. As this is the oldest record of cricket, this is a plausible track. It has also been established that cricket is already being used in Bruegel’s paintings. It is suspected that Flemish weavers took the sport with them when they migrated to Kent.
There is a similar confusion about the origin of the word ‘cricket’. It either comes from ‘cricce’ – the Anglo-Saxon word for a shepherd’s staff – or from ‘jack chair’, the name by which a pew was referred to in the Low Countries of the Middle Ages. In French such a bench was called a ‘cricket’. The French also claim that the word “cricket” is derived from the word “guichet” (gate, counter). From the Flemish point of view it could be explained etymologically as ‘bounce with the jack’. Jack is a crooked shepherd’s staff.
Early forms of cricket used wickets that indeed resembled a low triplet. Cricket in its present form – with upright wickets – dates from a later time and is undoubtedly English.
Lord’s and the MCC
By the eighteenth century, cricket had become one of the favorite sports of the British aristocracy. However, the London elite were disturbed by the fact that their matches could be watched by everyone on a lawn in Islington. Thomas Lord therefore established an enclosed cricket ground in 1787 in the Marylebone district. Its associated association – the Marylebone Cricket Club or MCC for short – introduced the first cricket laws a year later and administers them to this day.
In 1811 Lord moved his stadium to Regent’s Park and in 1814 to its current location in St John’s Wood where the Lord’s Cricket Ground soon acquired the nickname The Home of Cricket.
The first lawnmower at Lord’s made its appearance in 1864 – before that the field was cut short by a grazing flock of sheep.
The tests between England and Australia are referred to as a battle for ‘the Ashes’.
In 1880, the first serious competition between the England and Australia national teams took place in England. The MCC had toured Australia a few times in the previous years, but those matches were not taken so seriously. At the time, the best English players didn’t feel like going on a long boat trip to “play against a few insignificant colonials”.
It even took the Australians a lot of persuasion to persuade the British, who thought they were superior, to play a test match on English soil. The match was eventually played at London’s Kennington Oval. England, due to a disastrous second at bat, had great difficulty winning the game. Finally, W.G. Grace the deciding factor: England won by five wickets but the Australians had left their business card.
That the sport had become closely linked to English self-awareness became apparent when Australia managed to beat the English team in 1882. With some sense of melodrama, the Sporting Times published an obituary for the late English cricket the day after the match. It was announced that the ashes of the cremated body would be transported to Australia.
The sequel to this comedy came a year later when English cricketers on Australian soil won the away game: the chairman of the English Cricket Association was presented with an urn from the Australians, containing the burnt remains of a bail (the cross stick on the wicket). to take to England. Since then, the Ashes have been played every two years.
The best countries in the world have a special ‘test’ status. Only these countries are allowed to play so-called tests. The International Cricket Council grants this status. In 2020, twelve countries have this status for men and ten countries for women.
The Cricket World Cup is held every four years. The West Indies won the first men’s championship in 1975 and England in the women’s 1973.
Twelve championships have been held for the men up to and including 2019. Australia won five times, the West Indies and India twice, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England each won once. It is striking that England only won the title for the first time in 2019.
Up to and including 2017, eleven championships have been held for the women. Australia won six times, England four times and New Zealand once.