Cricket: The National Sport of England


We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. However, it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.

Proceeding with this great thought in our minds, we can begin to understand that the origins of the game of cricket are lost in the mist of time. It seems clear that the English game originated in the sheep-rearing country of the South East, where the short grass of the down land pastures made it possible to bowl a ball of wool or rags at a target. That target was usually the wicket-gate of the sheep pasture, which was defended with a bat in the form of a shepherd’s crooked staff.

More can be seen about the history of the game in England. By the 17th century the game was quite popular as a rough rural pastime, but in the following century the leisure classes took up the sport, particularly in Sussex, Kent, and London. It is known that an organized match was held at the Artillery Grounds, Finsbury, London, in 1730. And then, by the middle of the 18th century, cricket was being played at every level of society, from the village greens to the wealthy estates of England.

However, the game lacked a coherent set of rules and this might have not been then, too much of a troublesome issue. Interestingly, the first and most influential cricket club in the land was formed at Hambledon, Hampshire, in the 1760’s. The club was sponsored by wealthy patrons, but the players were the local tradesmen and farmers. A major boost for the sport of cricket was provided by public schools such as Eton, Harrow, and Winchester. The sport proved popular enough amongst the well to do students so much so that an annual match called “Gentlemen vs. Players” took place at Lord’s from 1806-1963. The amateur “Gentlemen” from the schools and universities played their semi-professional counterparts; the “Players” in a match that was a highlight of the season.

However, that is history, if I may be allowed to say so. The game of cricket is now played worldwide. There are other nations as well, who have proved their supremacy in the game and despite occasional successes, it is fair to say that the real power in the game has shifted from England to nations such as South Africa, Australia, India, Pakistan, and the West Indies. In England the major focus of the game are the county championships, with both four-day and one-day competitions running simultaneously during the summer months. However, traditional village cricket is still played in towns and villages all across the United Kingdom. Thus one can imagine the high spirits that still exist.

If one compares the team performance with the last year’s world cup champions (the name I am sure all must know), surely there are tits and bits that mark failure and success. Quoting Ralph Half, “When ability exceeds ambition, or ambition exceeds ability, the likelihood of success is limited.” While writing about the cricket style in Australia it is important to learn, that Cricket Australia is the custodian of the game in Australia. It is governed by 14 Directors appointed by their respective member associations, and managed by a Senior Management Team and approximately 60 full-time staff. It also recognizes the importance of Australian players’ rights to an active independent representative body and works closely with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) to ensure the best possible outcome for the Australian cricket. Their efforts have surely paid off well and so they stand as the undefeated champions.

Though England has been in three finals but has never won, yet they have a super squad of players and though their recent form has not been outstanding, the talent available makes them a favourite amongst viewers. The dedication towards their game can be still observed.

I am yet again reminded by another famous quote: “It is not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.”

Puja Wattal