Table of Contents
Written by Ramachandra Guha, this chapter gives an account of the origin and evolution of the game of Cricket. It talks about how the game originated in rural England and how it reached India. It also tells how the Television played an integral role in making Cricket one of the most popular sports.
Cricket originated in England as one of the stick-and-ball games. It was in the seventeenth century that it was recognised as a separate sport. Even during the eighteenth century, the game was very different from what it is now. The equipment were nearly the same as the ones used for playing hockey.
Cricket was the earliest game to be codified under a set of formal rules called ‘Laws of Cricket’ that were laid down in 1744. These laws specified the role of the umpires, height of the stumps, length of the bails, weight of the ball and length of the pitch. After the codification of the game, the first cricket club was formed in Hambledon in the 1760s and the famous Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded in 1787.
It was after the founding of these clubs that the bat was changed from one that resembled a curved hockey stick to a straight one. The ball also came to be pitched through the air and was no longer rolled on the ground. Though the game has undergone many such changes, the equipment used for playing are still handmade. Only the protective equipment like knee pads are industrially manufactured.
In India, cricket first became popular among the small Zoroastrian community of the Parsis in Bombay. In 1848, they found the first cricket club in India and named it the Oriental Cricket Club. After some conflict with the whites-only Bombay Gymkhana Club, the Parsis built their separate gymkhana to play. In 1932, India entered the world of Test Cricket.
Cricket has today become a sport that is played even in villages and streets. This was made possible by Television which expanded the audience and they began to learn by watching and imitating. India has the largest audience for the game and Indian cricketers are the highest paid players. This explains why a game which originated in rural England is so popular in India today.