The origins of the game of cricket are lost in the mists of time. There is a reference in the household accounts of King Edward I in 1300 of a game much like cricket being played in Kent. The English game originated in the sheep-raising country of the South East, where the short grass of the pastures made it possible to bowl or roll a ball of rags or wool at a target. That target was usually the wicket-gate of the sheep paddock, which was defended with a bat in the form of a shepherd's crooked staff. In reality there was actually a large number of different games played under a variety of local rules. The idea of a single past time evolving seamlessly into the sport we know and love is appealing but not very likely. However, hitting a ball with a stick does seem to have been a popular past time. Whatever the variety or origins of games played, records show Edward II wielding a bat, and it was suggested that Oliver Cromwell also played the game. In fact, "bat" is an old English word meaning stick or club. The earliest types of bat were much like a hockey stick - long, heavy clubs curved outwards towards the bottom. The design of the bat reflected the type of Bowling that was prevalent at the time - fast, underarm bowls rolled along the ground. By the eighteenth century, the bat had developed into a heavier, longer, curved version of our modern bat - the handle and blade were carved out of a single piece of wood.
The 1st recorded cricket match took place in Kent in 1646 and, by the late 1600s fines were actually handed out for those missed church church to play. Cricket was popular and widely documented in England during the 1700s. In 1706 William Goldwyn published the 1st description of the game. He wrote that 2 teams were 1st seen carrying their curving bats to the venue, choosing a pitch and arguing over the rules. They pitched 2 sets of wickets, each with a "milk-white" bail perched on two stumps; tossed a coin for 1st knock, the umpire called "play" and the "leathern orb" was bowled. They had 4-ball overs, the umpires leant on their staves (which the batsmen had to touch to complete a run), and the scorers sat on a mound making notches. The 1st written "Laws of Cricket" were established in 1744. They stated, "the principals shall choose from amongst the gentlemen present 2 umpires who shall absolutely decide all disputes. The stumps must be Twenty-two inches high and the bail across them six inches. The ball must be between 5 & 6 ounces, and the two sets of stumps Twenty-two yards apart". There were no limits on the shape or size of the bat. It appears that 40 notches was viewed as a very big score, probably due to the bowlers bowling quickly at shins unprotected by pads. The world's first cricket club was formed in Hambledon in the 1760s and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded in 1787.
During the 1760's and 1770's it became common to pitch the ball through the air, rather than roll it along the ground. This innovation gave bowlers the weapons of deception through the air, length, plus increased pace. It also opened new possibilities for spin and swerve. In response, batsmen had to masters shot selection and timing. One immediate consequence of this was the replacement of the curving bat with the straight one. All of this raised the premium on skill and lessened the influence of rough ground and brute force. It was in the 1770's that the modern game began to take shape. The weight of the ball was limited to between 5 and a 1/2 and five and 3/4 ounces, and the width of the bat to 4 inches. The latter ruling followed an innings by a batsman called "Shock" White, who appeared with a bat the width of the wicket. In 1774, the first leg before law was published. Also around this time, a third stump became commonplace.
A number of words are thought to be possible sources for the term "cricket". In the earliest known reference to the sport in 1598 (see below), it is called creckett. The name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch krick(-e), meaning a stick; or the Old English cricc or cryce meaning a crutch or staff. Another possible source is the Middle Dutch word krickstoel, meaning a long low stool used for kneeling in church and which resembled the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket.
According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, "cricket" derives from the Middle Dutch met de (krik ket)sen (i.e., "with the stick chase"), which also suggests a Dutch connection in the game's origin. It is more likely that the terminology of cricket was based on words in use in south east England at the time and, given trade connections with the County of Flanders, especially in the 15th century when it belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, many Middle Dutch words found their way into southern English dialects.
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The original name of cricket world is ICC Cricket World Cup.
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