WG Grace

Cricket is a game that is known to be of British heritage and has been an integral part of our culture for centuries in addition to gaining popularity all around the world as an excellent spectator sport. Yet, not many people truly know where the game came from. In fact, nobody does!

The U.K. is the birthplace of many great sports that are now enjoyed internationally. It was here that association football was born—the now most popular game in the world—along with cricket, rugby, golf, tennis, snooker, netball, bowls, and many others.

Tennis is the highest profile sport in the country during the two weeks of Wimbledon, and that’s not surprising given the history and excitement that the game can offer. The competition is close this year with Andy Murray and Roger Federer running at pretty much the same odds of winning on BetStars.

Yet tennis fades into the background for much of the year, a lot like snooker and darts when big tournaments are not being played. Cricket has an 18% TV viewing rating according to a MORI poll and is still one of the most popular spectator’s sports in England.

The origin of cricket, however, is unknown. Some speculate that it comes from Saxon or Norman times and likely from the South East of England. Regardless, the first recorded mention of the game was in 1597, when it was referred to as 'creckett,' and it was likely played in Surrey in around 1550.

In the early 17th century, it was clear that cricket had become an adult game, as parish teams would meet to compete, though there didn't seem to be any sign of county teams back then. Cricket gained popularity in the mid-1600s when there was a huge influx of people taking wagers on the game. Unfortunately, this took much of the attention away from the game itself. Cricket also found its way to North America during that same time period.

It was in the 18th century, however, that cricket really took off, though it wasn't without setbacks, at certain points in history due to a lack of players and funding. In the 1700s, many of the modern clubs of today opened including London, Dartford, Hambledon as well as the Yorkshire and Lord's grounds.

Meanwhile, the sport spread to other countries in the world such as the West Indies, India, and Australia. New Zealand and South Africa were introduced to the game later, in the 19th century. It was also around this time that modern country clubs were formed including in Sussex in 1839, and our own Blackpool in the late 1800s.

The railway developments of the 19th century provided a huge boost for cricket, and for U.K. sports in general, as teams could travel long distances to play against other teams and, likewise, spectators could make the trips to watch.

In 1844, the first recorded international cricket took place when the U.S. played a game against Canada. In 1862, England played their first match against Australia, sparking off the rivalry that entertains us to this day. The first Test match between the two teams was in 1877. Moving into the 20th and 21st centuries, the game of crickets has seen continued developments with the growth of Test matches and the World Series as well as numerous other local, national, and international competitions.

 

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