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The History and Evolution of Cricket Around the World

Cricket has a history that goes back almost 500 years, right into the mid-1500s. Here we take a look at the history and evolution of cricket around the world.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 10.12.2021
History and Evolution of Cricket Around the World

Cricket has a history that goes back almost 500 years, right into the mid-1500s! Keep in mind that we are talking about the game of cricket here, not something that simply resembled the modern game. Of course, it has come a long, long way through the centuries, but the game in its name and core rules is really that old.

The Beginning

A common issue with finding the origins of most ancient sports is that they can seldom be traced back properly to anything concrete. All we know is that cricket was first heard of in South-East England during the 16th Century, but the game was likely being played locally from even before that time.

A Boys’ Game: Dictionary Entry (1611)

The first official mention of cricket as a game in the history books is nothing short of bizarre! Apparently, two adult men in Sussex were arrested and prosecuted for skipping church and playing cricket on a Sunday. This happened back in 1611 and it shook people up so much that cricket had to be officially entered into the English dictionary that year, explaining it strictly as a “boys’ game.”

Becoming an Adult’s Game During the 17th & 18th Century

Despite all the fuss, cricket was being played by children and adults alike not long after that incident. During the early 17th Century and before the English Civil War broke out, several parishes had their own cricket teams and neighboring parishes were competing against each other in local matches. Despite everything, it wasn’t until the Hambledon Club was founded in 1760 that cricket started to look like a serious, national-grade sport.

The credit for documenting the rules of cricket goes to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) though, which was established in 1787 at Lord’s Cricket Ground. They were the ones to start writing and updating the Laws of Cricket. The rules have changed so much since those days, but this is where it all really started and somewhere in between, cricket became the National Sport of England.

The Famous international Match

We do not associate the USA and Canada with cricket’s heritage, but they were a part of cricket even before any of the modern cricketing nations got involved. The first-ever international match in sports as a whole was a 3-day cricket match and it was contested in between the USA and British Canada between the 24th and the 26th of September 1844. Canada managed to win the match by 23 runs in front of thousands, at 30th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, USA. In case you are wondering, the St George's Cricket Ground at Bloomingdale was located in the same space in 1844.

The Globalization of Cricket

Australia and England are simultaneously the first official nations to be recognized as a test playing nation in 1877. Over the course of more than 100 years, the same prestigious right expanded to:

·       South Africa in 1889

·       The West Indies in 1928

·       New Zealand in 1930

·       India in 1932

·       Pakistan in 1952

·       Sri Lanka in 1982

·       Zimbabwe in 1992

·       Bangladesh in 2000

·       Ireland and Afghanistan in 2018

While it’s true that several other nations play cricket across the shorter formats, only the above teams have so far been accredited as test playing nations. Temporary ODI status has been granted to newer cricketing nations now though, which includes Scotland, Nepal, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and the United States.

The Impact of T20 Cricket

The England Cricket Board (ECB) introduced T20 cricket at the country level in 2003, not even realizing the impact it would have on global cricket as a whole. The format started to become popular in England and spread from there to Australia, India, and several other cricketing nations like wildfire. Soon after, the first 2007 ICC World Twenty20, aka the T20 World Cup 2007 was held in South Africa and won by India in a nail-biting final against arch-rivals Pakistan.

The tournament was watched and enjoyed by so many people globally, all cricketing nations had to accept the potential of T20 cricket to help globalize cricket. In realization of the potential here, several national and international leagues were created or reformatted to greater heights. The KFC Twenty20 Big Bash became a much more serious competition with a bigger budget and international players, being renamed and restructured as the Big Bash League in 2011.

However, the BCCI decided to launch the IPL in the very same year that India managed to snag their first T20 World Cup. It was a huge hit and has only continued to grow every year since then. In 2019, the Indian Premier League had a total brand value of $6.3 billion, making it the richest cricketing event in the history of cricket at any level. As expected, several other flagship leagues also opened in their respective nations soon after. The most relevant and lucrative T20 Leagues to watch out for are:

1.     Indian Premier League (IPL)

2.     Big Bash League (BBL) Australia

3.     Bangladesh Premier League (BPL)

4.     ECB Vitality Blast England

5.     Caribbean Premier League (CPL)

With the Australian Big Bash League in full flow right now and the IPL 2022 dates already set, now is the best time to stay updated with cricket predictions, news, updates, transfers, and tips. Billions of dollars are won and lost in cricket bets every year, so stay ahead of the casual competition.

How T20 Helped in Globalizing Cricket

A test match is considered to be the ultimate test of patience, stamina, and quality for cricketers even centuries later. True as that might be to a great extent, tests did not make cricket a global game, T20 did. Ironically enough, T20 was thought of as an inferior version of cricket and during the early days of 20-20, several renowned players even refused to participate in the shorter format, as recognized by the ICC. Although that attitude has certainly changed, it begs the question; what is it about the shorter format which revolutionized and globalized cricket?

The answer is simple enough, although most cricket fans will not admit to it. Watching a 2.5 to 3-hour match with breaks in between is an entertaining and intensely exciting proposition for anyone who likes competitive sports, especially when compared to watching a 5-day match with at least 90-overs bowled every day. The sheer amount of time necessary to watch test matches and even ODIs is lacking among viewers. Cricketers play the game as a profession, but watching an entire test is not a feasible option for even test fans, provided they too have a profession.

Modern cricket as it stands today is played by several nations, with 91 of them being ranked by the ICC, as of late 2021. It was a huge journey for the game that started as a boys’ game, only to become one of the biggest international sports in the world. It is still in its evolutionary stage though, especially so for women’s cricket. There is no denying that women’s cricket has come a long way since its early days, but sponsorship, viewership, and global participation still have a lot of room for support and improvement.

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