Virtually South Africa™

Jacques Kallis bowls for South Africa Newlands Cricket Ground

History of Cricket

The origins of cricket are obscure, dating back to the Dark Ages, and there are several theories on how it started. One is that shepherds used to play it - one would stand in front of the wicket gate to the sheep fold, and another would bowl a stone or something at him, and he would have to hit it with his crook, which was known as a cricce.

Other theories are that it derives from a game called club-ball, or a game played in churchyards...

The first reference to cricket being played is thought to be in 1300, between Prince Edward and his friend Piers Gaveston and the first recorded match took place at Coxheath in Kent, England in 1646.

As well as shepherds' crooks, early bats were clubs and sticks. These gave way to long, thin battes, which looked a bit like straightened-out hockey sticks, because the ball was bowled under-arm, and the batters swung their bats like clubs!!

By the 18th century, the batte had developed into a longer, heavier, curved version of the one we know now, carved out of a single piece of wood.

Today's bat was invented around 1853, with the blade made of willow, and a cane handle, which is layered with strips of rubber, tied with twine, and covered with rubber to make a grip. The 'V' shaped extension of the handle into the blade is the splice. The early balls were stones and other missiles. Rather dangerous really, and not surprising that someone came up with an alternative! They're now made of cork, and covered with hand-stitched leather quarters dyed red.

The wicket - the stumps are the three posts. Originally there were two, and at one point, four. The size has varied too - in the 17th century, were up to two metres wide!! The bails are the two bits of wood on the top, and if they fall off, it's all over!!

Dates in cricket history

1550 (approx) Evidence of cricket being played in Guildford, Surrey.
1598 Cricket mentioned in Florio's Italian-English dictionary.
1610 Reference to "cricketing" between Weald and Upland near Chevening, Kent. 1611 Randle Cotgrave's French-English dictionary translates the French word "crosse" as a cricket staff.
Two youths fined for playing cricket at Sidlesham, Sussex.
1624 Jasper Vinall becomes first man known to be killed playing cricket: hit by a bat while trying to catch the ball - at Horsted Green, Sussex.
1676 First reference to cricket being played abroad, by British residents in Aleppo, Syria.
1694 Two shillings and sixpence paid for a "wagger" (wager) about a cricket match at Lewes.
1697 First reference to "a great match" with 11 players a side for fifty guineas, in Sussex.
1700 Cricket match announced on Clapham Common.
1709 First recorded inter-county match: Kent v Surrey.
1710 First reference to cricket at Cambridge University.
1727 Articles of Agreement written governing the conduct of matches between the teams of the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick of Peperharow, Surrey.
1729 Date of earliest surviving bat, belonging to John Chitty, now in the pavilion at The Oval.
1730 First recorded match at the Artillery Ground, off City Road, central London, still the cricketing home of the Honourable Artillery Company.
1744 Kent beat All England by one wicket at the Artillery Ground.
First known version of the Laws of Cricket, issued by the London Club, formalising the pitch as 22 yards long.
1769 First recorded century, by John Minshull for Duke of Dorset's XI v Wrotham.
1771 Width of bat limited to 4 1/4 inches, where it has remained ever since.
1774 LBW law devised.

1776 Earliest known scorecards, at the Vine Club, Sevenoaks, Kent.
1780 The first six-seamed cricket ball, manufactured by Dukes of Penshurst, Kent.
1787 First match at Thomas Lord's first ground, Dorset Square, Marylebone - White Conduit Club v Middlesex.
Formation of Marylebone Cricket Club by members of the White Conduit Club.
1788 First revision of the Laws of Cricket by MCC.
1795 First recorded case of a dismissal "leg before wicket".
1807 First mention of "straight-armed" (i.e. round-arm) bowling: by John Willes of Kent.
1827 First Oxford v Cambridge match, at Lord's. A draw.
1828 MCC authorise the bowler to raise his hand level with the elbow.
1836 (approx) Batting pads invented.
1841 General Lord Hill, commander-in-chief of the British Army, orders that a cricket ground be made an adjunct of every military barracks.
1844 First official international match: Canada v United States.
1845 First match played at The Oval.
1850 Wicket-keeping gloves first used.
1858 First recorded instance of a hat being awarded to a bowler taking three wickets with consecutive balls.
1859 First touring team to leave England, captained by George Parr, draws enthusiastic crowds in the US and Canada.
1864 "Overhand bowling" authorised by MCC.
John Wisden's The Cricketer's Almanack first published.
1873 WG Grace becomes the first player to record 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season.
First regulations restricting county qualifications, often regarded as the official start of the County Championship.
1877 First Test match: Australia beat England by 45 runs in Melbourne.
1880 First Test in England: a five-wicket win against Australia at The Oval.
1882 Following England's first defeat by Australia in England, an "obituary notice" to English cricket in the Sporting Times leads to the tradition of The Ashes.
1889 South Africa's first Test match.
Declarations first authorised, but only on the third day, or in a one-day match.
1900 Six-ball over becomes the norm, instead of five.
1909 Imperial Cricket Conference (ICC - now the International Cricket Council) set up, with England, Australia and South Africa the original members.
1910 Six runs given for any hit over the boundary, instead of only for a hit out of the ground.
1912 First and only triangular Test series played in England, involving England, Australia and South Africa.
1928 West Indies' first Test match.
1930 New Zealand's first Test match.
Donald Bradman's first tour of England: he scores 974 runs in the five Ashes Tests, still a record for any Test series.
1931 Stumps made higher (28 inches not 27) and wider (nine inches not eight - this was optional until 1947).
1932 India's first Test match.
1932-33 The Bodyline tour of Australia in which England bowl at batsmen's bodies with a packed leg-side field to neutralise Bradman's scoring.
1948 First five-day Tests in England.
Bradman concludes Test career with a second-ball duck at The Oval and a batting average of 99.94 - four runs short of 100.
1952 Pakistan's first Test match.
1957 Declarations authorised at any time.
The first major one-day tournament begins in England: the Gillette Cup.
1970 Proposed South African tour of England cancelled: South Africa excluded from international cricket because of their government's apartheid policies.
1971 First one-day international: Australia v England at Melbourne.
1975 First World Cup: West Indies beat Australia in final at Lord's.
1976 First women's match at Lord's, England v Australia.
1977 Centenary Test at Melbourne, with identical result to the first match: Australia beat England by 45 runs.
Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer, signs 51 of the world's leading players in defiance of the cricketing authorities.
1978 Graham Yallop of Australia wears a protective helmet to bat in a Test match, the first player to do so.
1980 Eight-ball over abolished in Australia, making the six-ball over universal.
1982 Sri Lanka's first Test match.
1991 South Africa return, with a one-day international in India.
1992 Zimbabwe's first Test match.
Durham become the first county since Glamorgan in 1921 to attain firstclass status.
1994 Brian Lara of Warwickshire becomes the only player to pass 500 in a firstclass innings: 501 not out v Durham.
2000 South Africa's captain Hansie Cronje banned from cricket for life after admitting receiving bribes from bookmakers in match-fixing scandal.
Bangladesh's first Test match.
The Laws of Cricket revised and rewritten.
2001 Sir Donald Bradman dies, aged 92.
2003 Twenty20 Cup, a 20-over-per-side evening tournament, inaugurated in England.
2004 Lara becomes the first man to score 400 in a Test innings, against England.