Cricket is an English-born sport that has drawn more and more attention from throughout the world. The sport has become increasingly alluring to its fans as commercial opportunities have emerged.
Cricket may have been played in some form as early as the 11th century, according to some evidence, but the first organized game for a twelve candle wager did not occur until 1646.
Without any set written regulations, cricket developed for another hundred years or so. The first game rules were formally created in 1744. However, it would take another 43 years before there was a centralized government. The Marylebone Cricket Club, or MCC as it is more generally known, was founded at Lord's Cricket Ground in 1787 to defend the game's fundamental rules.
The MCC continued to own the copyright to the "Laws of Cricket" and served as the game's global protector for another 200 years.
The USA and Canada played in the first international cricket match in New Jersey in 1844, despite the sport's long-standing English tradition. Later, the MCC devised a policy to promote the growth of cricket around the world, especially in the British colonies, where the game was gaining popularity.
England didn't participate in an international match until 1877, when James Lillywhite led a team to Australia to a defeat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The event was a huge success, and hastily made plans were made for a rematch, which England won. It was decided that "test cricket" would be the name for this lengthy (usually five-day) match type.
Australia overcame England in their rematch at the Oval in 1882. It was viewed as a national disgrace, and the next day a parody obituary was published in The Sporting Times. The iconic line "the body will be cremated and the ashes sent to Australia" was used to proclaim the end of English cricket. The nations thereafter engaged in an ongoing conflict about ownership of these legendary ashes as a result of this.
Despite the demise of the national squad at the time, domestic cricket in England remained successful. Finally, the first County Championship including eight regional teams was held in 1890.
By 1900, there were fifteen teams, and after Northamptonshire (1905) and Glamorgan (1921), the competition gained popularity throughout England and Wales. After World War II, the county championship adopted a fixed format. A format was decided upon in 1968 and used up until the 1990s. County cricket was in shambles at this point, with clubs incurring debt and attendance drastically declining.
A two-division championship was established after the addition of an additional 18 counties to address the issue of declining interest, but this had little impact on the deteriorating county game, which continues to struggle since gate money is insufficient to cover overhead costs.
The story behind the international game, however, is rather distinct. Australia and England started competing with other nations. In 1888, South Africa was admitted as a nation for test cricket. Following in the years following World War One were the West Indies, New Zealand, and India. When Pakistan broke away from India in 1947, it was designated as a test country.
International cricket remained mostly unchanged from that point until 1970, when South Africa was suspended due to their government's adoption of the apartheid regime.
A one-day game between Australia and England was trialed the following year. This format proved to be more appealing than test cricket, and ever since then, all-nation one-day international series have been held in addition to the main test series. The modern World Cup is a one-day international competition that occurs every four years.
Today, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has complete control over the sport of cricket, and it could be argued that India, a nation of one billion people where cricket is the only national sport, is the sport's new power base. Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka have all achieved test status in the past 25 years, and South Africa was reinstated in 1991.
The future of cricket has never looked brighter than it does right now as the sport continues to thrive in more and more nations and teams opt to use more alluring strategies.
The Start of Cricket's Demise