CRICKET POPULAR WORLD OVER
The game of cricket started in England first, but now it is played all over the globe and is very popular.
The game became very popular by the 18th century and a London club was formed in 1700. The Hambledon Club started in 1750 and at its ground, at Broachalf Penny Down, country cricket originated. Thomas Lord started a ground in Dorset Square in 1787 which was moved to St. John’s Wood in 1814, and became the headquarters of the Marylebone Cricket Club (M.C.C.), the ruling authority of the game. Gentlemen vs. Players, Oxford vs. Cambridge, and Eton vs. Harrow matches started about this time, and cricket took its present form.
Cricket has achieved great popularity as can be seen from the jam packed stadia all over the world. There is always a clamor for tickets and yet many do not get any chance to enter The game is played mainly in the countries of the Commonwealth-Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the West Indies, Pakistan and India. An England team paid first visit to Australia in 1876. Four years later an Australian Eleven paid a return visit to England and that tour was really the inauguration of what is called “Test match cricket.” The struggle for the “Ashes” between these countries has taken place at almost regular intervals. But in the first class game there is no trophy or outward symbol of success. A remarkable level of equality between cricketers of England and Australia has marked these matches between these two countries, up to the Second World War. For instance, Australia had been victorious on 57 occasions, England on 55, while 31 matches had been drawn. Test matches between England and South Africa were started in 1907, between England and the West Indies in 1928, between England and New Zealand in 1929, and between England and India in 1932. In 1942, Australia and South Africa sent teams to England simultaneously to take part in a triangular tournament, but the experiment has never been repeated.
The game has two umpires who adjudicate on all points of law, and are the sole judges of the play. Now there is a third umpire also. The captain who wins the toss may decide if his team shall bat first or may put the opponents into bat. His decision is governed by the state of the pitch, perhaps also by forecast on weather. An innings lasts until all the players of the side have been into bat; and two innings of both teams are taken alternately. To each of these rules there is an exception. Subject to conditions of scores and time laid down in the rules, a captain may declare his side’s innings to be closed. He may want his opponents to bat when the pitch or light is difficult or his side having scored what he thinks may be a winning number of runs.
The other exception is that if the team batting second is more than certain immediately to “follow on” its innings. Then there are definite rules about the weight and circumference of the ball, the length and width of the bat, the width of the wicket and the number of stumps, the distance at which the two wickets must be pitched from each other, the length of the creases, the manner in which the ball must be bowled, how the runs are to be counted, how the fieldsmen are to field and how a batsman may be declared out.
The game is most fascinating for spectators. Public interest in it has never suffered decline in any of the cricket-playing countries including India. During Test matches enthusiasm runs high; there is a mad rush for admission into the stadium. While the atmosphere of the game seems too leisurely to some, the existence of a time limit and the hazards of the weather and pitch may give rise to the most sudden and thrilling transformations, especially when the score and the clock and the player’s abilities are nicely balanced.
There is no end to surprises, and the uncertainties of the game lend to it in the eyes of many one of its chief glories. Batsmen have scored 36 runs in an over; bowlers have taken four wickets in successive balls. On one occasion, teams were all out for 16 runs in their first innings, they had to follow on, and they scored 521 runs and won the match! On another occasion, an Indian team lost nine wickets for 205 runs, and then their last two batsmen added 249 more runs! The classic example of a finish is that of a university match in 1870 between Oxford and Cambridge. Oxford had three wickets still left and needed just three runs to win the match; but a Cambridge bowler took these wickets with three successive balls giving his side a victory by two runs.