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Cricket in England

Cricket in England is linked with its social and economic background. Let us look at the peculiarities of cricket by comparing the game with foot-ball and base-ball.

(i) The customary Test Cricket is played over a period of 5 days, while a game of foot-ball is completed in one and a half hour and even a long drawn out game of base-ball can be completed in three or four hours.

(ii) The area or shape of the cricket ground is not fixed. It varies from ground to ground. The base-ball and foot-ball grounds should be of a standard size every where.

Before we move on to the history of cricket let us get familiar with the game, the ground and the equipments that are required for the game.

Cricket-the Game: Cricket is a team game played by 2 teams. Each team has 11 players. Both teams get a chance to bat. All the 11 players get to bat. The team that scores the highest runs wins the game. There are many variations to the rules of this game, which changed as centuries progressed.

The Cricket Ground : In the olden times the ground was not limited, nor was it fenced. It was played in the open fields in the English country side. Now a days the cricket ground is either ‘oval’ or ‘round’ and has a boundary.


Cricket in England

A cricket field consists of a large circular or oval-shaped grassy ground on which the game of cricket is played. There are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter usually varies between 450 feet to 500 feet . On most grounds, a rope demarcates the perimeter of the field and is known as the boundary.

The Cricket Pitch

The Cricket Pitch is an unique feature of the game. It is laid in the middle of the ground. This is where the batsman is stationed. It is 22 yards in length. It is also the cause of many controversies in the game. The pitch can determine the spin of the ball and hence it determines the runs a side can make.

The Cricket Pitch

A cricket pitch is the central strip of the cricket field between the wickets. The pitch is 22 yards long and 10 feet wide. The surface is very flat and normally covered with extremely short grass though this grass is soon removed by wear at the ends of the pitch.

The pitch has very specific markings delineating the creases, as specified by the Laws of Cricket.

The Pitch and its Creases


The Cricket Bat

The bat is usually made of willow wood. It has handle where the batsman can hold. The lower end of the bat is used to hit the ball.


The Cricket Bat

This specialised bat is shaped something like a paddle, consisting of a padded handle. This widens into the blade of the bat. The flat side is used to hit the ball. The point at which the handle widens into the blade is known as the shoulder of the bat, and the bottom of the blade is known as the toe of the bat.

The rules of the game limit the allowable size for a bat as not more than 38 inches long and the blade may not be more than 4.25 inches wide. Bats typically weigh from 1.1 to 1.4 kg. though there is no standard. The handle is usually covered with a rubber or cloth sleeve to enhance grip and the face of the bat may have a protective film.


The Cricket Ball

The ball must be 5 to 6 ounces. It is usually made of leather and is hand-made. It has seams on it.

The Cricket Ball

Cricket balls are made from a core of cork, which is layered with tightly wound string, and covered by a leather case with a slightly raised sewn seam. The covering is constructed of four pieces of leather.

For men's cricket, the ball must weigh between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces and measure between 8 13/16 and 9 inches circumference. Balls used in women's and youth matches are slightly smaller.

Cricket balls are traditionally dyed red, and red balls are used in Test cricket and First-class cricket. White balls were introduced when one-day matches began being played at night under floodlights, as they are more visible at night.

The Stumps

2 sets of stumps, 3 each are placed at either end of the pitch. The stumps are just rounded sticks that are about 22 inches high. The bails that are placed on them are 6 inches in length. If the ball hits the stumps and the bails are dislodged then the batsman is declared ‘out’.

The stumps are three vertical posts which support two bails. The stumps and bails are usually made of wood. The stumps have a spike at one end for hammering into the ground, and the other end has a U-shaped 'through groove' to provide a resting place for the bails.

Each stump is referred to by a specific name:
  • Off stump is the stump on the off side of the wicket (the same side as the batsman's bat).
  • Middle stump is the stump in the middle of the wicket.
  • Leg stump is the stump on the leg side of the wicket (the same side as the batsman's legs).

Protective Gear

Protective gear like gloves, pads and helmets are used in modern day cricket as the game has become very aggressive today.

Modern Protective Gear used in Cricket


Now let us trace the history of cricket.

  • Cricket as a game evolved in England in the early 18th century.
  • The first ‘Laws of cricket’ was written in 1744.
  • The first cricket club was formed in Hambledon in 1760.
  • The Marylebone Cricket Club(MCC) was formed in 1787.
  • The ‘Laws of cricket’ was revised by the MCC in 1788.
  • The bowling style changed drastically after the revision of the laws.
  • The time period of the matches were slowly reduced due to Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century.
  • Workers had less time for the game.
  • The cricket ball was changed into a six-seam cricket ball.
  • The cricket bat had to be according to certain specification, which was not the case earlier.
  • Protective gear was introduced to safe guard the players in 1848.

The laws of cricket are a set of rules framed by the Marylebone Cricket Club which serve to standardise the format of cricket matches across the world to ensure uniformity and fairness. There are currently 42 laws, which outline all aspects of how the game is played from how a team wins a game, how a batsman is dismissed, through to specifications on how the pitch is to be prepared and maintained. Although the MCC is a private club based in London and no longer the game's governing body, the MCC retains copyright in the laws and only the MCC may change the laws, although nowadays this would usually only be done after discussions with the game's global governing body the International Cricket Council.

Marylebone Cricket Club


Let us have a quick look at the frame work of the Laws of Cricket as written by the MCC.
Laws 1 to 4 cover the players, the umpires and the scorers.
Laws 5 to 11 deal with the Equipment and laying out the pitch.
Laws 12 to 17 outline the structure of the game.
Laws 18 to 26 move on to discuss how runs can be scored and how one team can beat the other.
Laws 27 to 29 discuss the main mechanics of how a batsman may be dismissed.
Laws 30 to 39 discuss the various ways a batsman may be dismissed. In addition to these 10 methods, a batsman may retire out. That provision is in Law 2.
Law 40 discusses the role of the wicket-keeper.

Law 41 discusses the role of the fielders.
Law 42 is about Fair and unfair play.

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