From Gentleman’s Game to One of the Most Celebrated Sports: The Evolution of Cricket
Cricket is considered one of the most fascinating sports in many regions across the globe. Cricket is a sport that includes many enthusiastic participants, spectators as well as media interest. The game of cricket has sparkled and rapidly evolved over the past few years. The T20 version of the game has been a major factor in attempting to further globalize, commercialize and popularize the game. Cricket is one of the most popular and well-liked games in the world. Cricket has been an established team sport for over 500 years and is very popular in countries such as India, Pakistan, West Indies, Australia, South Africa, and England. In this article, we will have a look at how the ‘Game of cricket’ has evolved over the years!
History and Origin
Cricket is a sport that is lavishly proud of its cultures, traditions, and its history. The origin of the game of cricket can be traced back many hundreds of years, and the reason why the sport became so popular is an intriguing one. As far as the name cricket is concerned there is a theory that came into existence around the time of the Norman Conquest. The story predicates that the French word ‘criquet’ was a dialect word used to describe the game of club ball. The exact origin of cricket is mysterious but it is believed to have originated in England and to have been a kid’s game in the 16th century, later taken up by adults.
In the early 18th century cricket established itself as a popular sport in London and the south-eastern counties of England. Travel restrictions hampered its expansion, but cricket was eventually gaining popularity in other regions of England, and Women’s Cricket came into the picture in 1745 when the first known cricket match was played in Surrey. In 1744, the first Laws of Cricket were written and subsequently amended in the same year itself, when new technicalities and equipment like leg before wicket, a third stump, the middle stump, and a maximum bat width were introduced. The codes were created by the “Star and Garter Club,” whose members went on to found the illustrious Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord’s in 1787. The Marylebone Cricket Club was immediately appointed as the custodian of the Laws, and revisions have been made ever since to the present date.
Cricket was first brought to North America through English colonies in the 17th century, and it spread to other regions of the world in the 18th century. Colonists introduced it to the West Indies, while British East India Company mariners introduced it to India. It came to Australia immediately after colonization began in 1788, and it spread to New Zealand and South Africa in the early 19th century.
Birth of International Cricket
When we talk about international cricket, we don’t really associate Canada and the United States of America with the history of cricket, although they were involved in the sport long before any of the present cricketing nations. The first-ever international match was played between the USA and Canada on September 24th, 1844 where Canada managed to win the match by 23 runs. Apparently, a lot of spectators were seen in the stadium to experience the match. In 1862 the first English cricket team toured Australia and a few years later a team of Australian Aborigines visited England for the first time to play a full-fledged test series.
In 1877, England went to Australia and played two matches against full Australian XIs which is now regarded as the first International Test match series. In 1882, the mighty Aussies defeated England in England for the very first time and surprisingly one of the journalists at the Sporting Times published a mock obituary. The obituary read, “In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” In 1882 the Ashes content was born between the two nations and till now it is one of the most celebrated and watched bilateral series in the cricketing world.
Modern Day Cricket
The origins of the structure and format of the game of cricket as we know it now can be traced back to the late 19th century. The inaugural County Championship was established in 1890, and six-ball overs were adopted in 1900, replacing the previous five-ball per overrule. The introduction of limited-overs, single innings matches was undoubtedly the most fascinating and major sea change in the world of cricket. In England, such matches gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, and the first major limited-overs competition, ‘The Gillette Cup‘, was established in 1963. In 1971, the first-ever One Day International game was played between England and Australia. Later on several competitions, leagues and tournaments came into the picture and countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, etc started playing international cricket more frequently.
The England Cricket Board (ECB) introduced T20 cricket at the country level in the year 2003. The shortest format of the game of cricket started to blossom in England and from there to other parts of the world. T20 cricket received a thunderous response from a plethora of fans. Soon after that, the ICC decided to organize the T20 Cricket World Cup. In 2007, the T20 World Cup was held in South Africa, and as we all know India defeated Pakistan in a thrilling final to clinch the World Cup title.
As the tournament was watched and loved by so many people around the world, all cricketing nations had to accept the new format of the game to help globalize cricket. Recognizing the potential here, several national and international leagues were formed or reformed to reach greater heights. The BCCI decided to launch the IPL in the very same year that India managed to clinch their first T20 World Cup. It was a huge hit and has only continued to grow every year since then. Last year IPL (2021) had a total brand value of over 6.5 billion dollars, making it the richest cricketing event in the history of cricket at any level. And, therefore nowadays we see a lot of such tournaments like Big Bash League, Caribbean Premier League, Sri Lanka Premier League, BPL, The Hundred, etc.
Impact of T20 Cricket
The introduction of Twenty20 has been seemingly the most innovative and powerful improvement in cricket over the past decade. It has brought energy, enthusiasm, and unmatchable excitement to the game. It has likewise brought openness, venture, and, most importantly, another age of fans in enormous numbers. But on the other hand, if we talk about Test cricket which is considered the ‘pinnacle of the game’ has shown a huge decline in the past decade. Many cricket pundits have argued that the T20 format of the game discourages technical cricket, youngsters wanting to pick up the game will be misguided into believing that cricket is all about trying to search for 6’s and 4’s which is not at all the case, indeed.
As of late 2021, 91 nations were ranked by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in modern cricket. It was a long road for the game, which began as a boys’ game and has since grown to become one of the world’s most popular international sports. However, it is still in its evolutionary phase, particularly in women’s cricket. There is no doubt that women’s cricket has come a long way since its inception, but sponsorship, viewership, and global participation still have a long way to go.