History and Sport: The Story of Cricket
The peculiarities of Test cricket and reasons for peculiarities
1. One of the peculiarities of Test cricket is that a match can go on for five days and still end in a draw. No other modern team sport takes even half as much time to complete.
2. Another curious characteristic of cricket is that the length of the pitch is specified as 22 yards but the size or shape of the ground is not. Most other team sports, such as hockey and football lay down the dimensions of the playing area but cricket does not.
3. Cricket’s connection with a rural past can be seen in the length of a Test match. The rhythms of village life were slower and cricket’s rules were made before the Industrial Revolution so the match is played for many days.
4. In the same way, cricket’s vagueness about the size of a cricket ground is a result of its village origins. Cricket was originally played on country common forests which were unfenced land that was public property.The size of the commons varied from one village to another.
The first written Laws of Cricket in 1744
1. The principals (rules) shallchoose from amongst the gentlemen (rich batsmen) present.
2. The twoumpires who shall absolutely decide all disputes.
3. The stumps must be 22 inches high and the bailacross them six inches.
4. The ball must be between5 and 6 ounces, and the two sets of stumps 22 yards apart.
5. There were no limits on the shapeor size of the bat.
MCC’s first revision of Cricket laws or Cricket Laws after 1760s
1. During the 1760s and 1770s it became common to pitch the ball through the air, rather than roll it along the ground.
2. This change gave bowlers the option of the replacement of the curved bat with the straight one.
3. The weight of the ball was limited to between 5½ and 5¾ ounces,and the width of the bat to four inches.
4. In 1774, the first leg-before law was published.
5. At this time, a third stump became common. This year also saw the creation of the first six-seam cricket ball.
Important changes occurred in Cricket in the nineteenth century
1. The rule about wide balls was applied
2. The exact circumference of the ball was specified.
3. Protective equipment like pads and gloves became available.
4. Boundaries were introduced where previously all shots had to be run.
5. Most importantly, overarm bowling became legal.
How cricket both changed with changing times and yet fundamentally remained true to its origins in rural England?
1. Cricket’s most important tools are all madeof natural, pre-industrial materials. The bat is made of wood as arethe stumps and the bails. The ball is made with leather, twine andcork. Even today both bat and ball are handmade, not industriallymanufactured.
2. But in the matter of protective equipment, cricket has been influenced by technological change. The introduction of pads, protective gloves and helmets madeout of metal and synthetic lightweight materials is a change in cricket.
The organisation of cricket in England reflected the nature of English society.
1. The rich who could afford to play it for pleasure were called amateurs and Gentlemen the poor who played it for a living were called professionals and players. (The rich were amateurs for two reasons. They considered sport a kind of leisure. There was not enough money in the game for the rich to be interested. )
2. The wages of professionals were paid by patronage or subscription or gate money. But the amateurs did not take money for playing.
3. The social superiority of amateurs was built into the customs of cricket. Players entered the ground from different entrances. Amateurs tended to be batsmen,leaving the energetic, hardworking aspects of the game, like fast bowling, to the professionals.
4. The laws of the game always give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman. Cricket is a batsman’s game because its rules were made to favour Gentlemen, who did most of the batting.
5. The social superiority of the amateur was also the reason the captain of a cricket team was traditionally a batsman: not because batsmen were naturally better captains but because they were generally Gentlemen (Rich).
It is often said that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. OR Britain’s military success was based on the values taught to schoolboys in its public schools.
1. Eton was the most famous Public school which trained English boys for careers in the military,the civil service and the church, the three great institutions of imperial England.
2. Thomas Arnold, founder of the modern public school system, saw team sport like cricket as an outdoor play, but as an organised way of teaching English boys the discipline, the importance of hierarchy,the skills, the codes of honour and the leadership qualities that helped them build and run the British Empire.
3. Victorian empire builders justified the conquest of other countries as an act of unselfish social service to the civilizing influence of British law and Western knowledge.
4. In actual fact the Napoleonic wars were won because of the economic contribution of the iron works of Scotland and Wales, the mills of Lancashire and the financial houses of the City of London.
5. It was the English lead in trade and industry that made Britain the world’s greatest power, but they believed that it was the superior character of its young men, built in boarding schools,playing gentlemanly games like cricket, that tipped the balance.
Spread of Cricket in the West Indies
1. While British imperial officials brought the game to the colonies, they made little effort to spread the game and the Afro-Caribbean population was discouraged from participating in organized club cricket, which remained dominated by white plantation owners and their servants.
2. The first non-white club in the West Indies was established towards the end of the nineteenth century, and even in this case its members were light-skinned mulattos.
3. Despite the exclusiveness of the white cricket elite in the West Indies, the game became hugely popular and success at cricket became a measure of racial equality and political progress.
4. At the time of their independence many of the political leaders of Caribbean countries like Forbes Burnham and Eric Williams saw in the game a chance for self respect and international standing.
5. When the West Indies won its first Test series against England in1950, it was celebrated as a national achievement, as a way of demonstrating that West Indians were the equals of white Englishmen.
What were two ironies about West Indies victory over English
1. West Indian team that won was captained by a white player.
2. West Indies cricket team represented not one nation but several dominions that later became independent countries.
Spread of Cricket in India
1. Cricket in colonial India was organised on the principle of race and religion. The first record we have of cricket being played in India is from 1721. The first Indian club, the Calcutta Cricket Club, was established in 1792 by British military men and civil servants.
2. The origins of Indian cricket, that is, cricket played by Indians are tobe found in Bombay and the first Indian community to start playing the game was the small community of Zoroastrians, the Parsis, founded the first Indian cricket club, the Oriental Cricket Club in Bombay in 1848.
3. By the 1890s, Hindus and Muslims were busy gathering funds and support for a Hindu Gymkhana and an Islam Gymkhana.
4. This history of gymkhana cricket led to first-class cricket being organised on communal and racial lines. The teams that played colonial India’s greatest and most famous first-class cricket tournament did not represent regions, but religious communities.
5. The tournament was initially called the Quadrangular, because it was played by four teams: the Europeans, the Parsis, the Hindus and the Muslims. It later became the Pentangular when a fifth team was added, namely, the Rest, which comprised all the communities left over, such as the Indian Christians.
Decolonisation and Fight against Racial (Discrimination) segregation in Cricket
1. Decolonisation, the process through which different parts of European empires became independent nations, this process led to the decline of British influence in trade, commerce, military affairs, international politics and, sporting matters(cricket).
2. Even after Indian independence kick-started the disappearance of the British Empire, the regulation of international cricket remained the business of the Imperial Cricket Conference. The ICC was renamed as the International Cricket Council.
3. Cricket’s centre of gravity is shifted to South Asia. This shift was symbolized by the shifting of the ICC headquarters from London to tax-free Dubai.
4. Australia and New Zealand, continued to play Test cricket with South Africa, a racist state that practiced a policy of racial segregation which, barred non-whites from representing that country in Test matches.
5. Test-playing nations like India, Pakistan and the West Indies boycotted South Africa, but they did not have the necessary power in the ICC to debar that country from Test cricket. Newly decolonised nations of Asia and Africa combined with liberal feeling in Britain and forced the English cricket authorities to cancel a tour by South Africa in 1970 and South Africa was excluded from World Cricket.
Cricket and Television Technology
1. Kerry Packer, an Australian television tycoon who saw the moneymaking potential of cricket as a televised sport, signed up fifty-one of the world’s leading cricketers against the wishes of the national cricket boards and staged unofficial Tests and One-Day internationals under the name of World Series Cricket.
2. Coloured dress, protective helmets, field restrictions, cricket underlights, became a standard part of the post-Packer game. Cricket became a marketable game and generated huge revenues. Cricket boards became rich by selling television rights to television companies.
3. Television channels made money by selling television spots to companies who were happy to pay large sums of money to air commercials for their products to cricket’s captive television audience.
4. Continuous television coverage made cricketers celebrities who, besides being paid better by their cricket boards, now made even larger sums of money by making commercials for a wide range of products, from tyres to colas, on television.
5. Television coverage changed cricket. It expanded the audience for the game by beaming cricket into small towns and villages. It also broadened cricket’s social base. The technology of satellite television and the world wide reach of multi-national television companies created a global market for cricket.
Innovations in cricket by the subcontinental teams
1. Innovations in cricket by the sub continental teams like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.Pakistan has pioneered two great advances in bowling: the doosra and the reverse swing. Both skills were developed in response to subcontinental conditions.