From WikiPOBia

Revision as of 16:08, 1 November 2007 by Oliver Mundy (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Cricket is a game played with bat and ball in an open field by two teams of eleven players each. Long regarded as quintessentially English, the game seems to have developed in late mediaeval times in the agricultural south-eastern and central southern counties of England, where the necessary level open spaces were readily available; the earliest definite reference to the game is in a legal document from Guildford (Surrey) dated 1598, in which 'kreckett' is said to have been played some fifty years before. Cricket was at first a game for country-folk, but in the second quarter of the eighteenth century it began to be taken up by gentlemen; Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751), father of King George III, was an early enthusiast. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), based in north London, has given laws to the game since about 1787, superseding the Hambledon Club (named after a village in Kent) which is mentioned by O'Brian at one point.

Cricket has a distant common ancestry with baseball and the two sports share some terminology even today (umpire, run, inning[s] etc.)

Requisites of the game

Cricket is played on a ground or field of short grass in the shape of a circle or a broad ellipse, preferably about 150 yards (137.05m) across and perhaps slightly greater in length; it should be (but often is not) perfectly level and free from irregularities and obstructions. At or near the centre of the ground is the pitch, a rectangle of closely-mown grass 22 yards (20.1m) long and 10ft (3.045m) wide (the width was not specified in the laws of the game until the 20th century).

The pitch is marked out at each end with creases, which are now painted in white; in early usage (until about 1870) they were sometimes cut or gouged into the turf itself. The bowling crease runs across each end of the pitch, terminated by short return creases at right angles to it, 94in (2.39m) apart. The popping-crease runs parallel to the bowling-crease at a distance of four feet (1.22m; originally 46 inches or 1.17m). At each end of the pitch, in the centre of the bowling-crease, a wicket is set up. In the canonic period this consisted of three stumps of turned wood, driven into the ground 3.5 inches (8.8cm) apart and standing to a height of two feet (0.61m), with a shorter stick called a bail laid across the top. (Between about 1825 and 1850 the stump height was increased to 27 inches (0.69m) and the single bail was replaced by two short ones. Until the 1770s there had been only two stumps; O'Brian mentions an argument among the spectators at a match regarding the date when the change took place.) The term wicket is sometimes applied to the whole pitch.

The ball is a very hard sphere of polished leather, about 2.9in (7.45cm) in diameter and traditionally dyed a deep red; six rows of white stitching run round its circumference, forming the seam.

The bat is made of willow-tree wood, about 38in (just under 1m) long including the handle which is bound with black twine. Early bats (until about 1790) were club-shaped and slightly curved; thereafter a straight-sided bat with a broader blade (about 4in or 10cm) came into use, the front face being slightly curved across its width. Initially the top of the blade had sloping shoulders, so that the profile of the bat was like a champagne-bottle; the modern style of bat, with angular shoulders, developed between about 1820 and 1850.

How cricket is played

To put it in the simplest possible terms, the basic objectives of cricket are that

  • The player with the bat (batsman) should score runs by hitting the ball and then, before his opponents can retrieve it, running to the opposite end of the pitch: and
  • The player with the ball (bowler) should break the batsman's wicket with the ball; when this is achieved the batsman in question is out and must leave the field.

Much of the peculiar flavour of cricket results from incorporating this simple batsman-versus-bowler opposition within the structure of a team game.

Before the match begins, the captains of the two teams (or sides) toss a coin; the winner of the toss has the privilege of deciding whether his team will bat or field first. (To be continued)

Personal tools