'Cricket was invented in continental Europe,' claims Australian academic

The old gentlemen at Lord's (England's national cricket stadium) in London may not be too happy to hear this.

But, according to an academic, the ancient sport of cricket wasn't invented in England but was, in fact, invented in Continental Europe.

He points to a 16th century work, attributed to John Skelton, a popular English poet and playwright, who makes a reference to 'creckette' in one of his writings, in which he also refers to weavers from Flanders.

Skelton also refers to "wickettes", which sound awfully similar to "wickets", the things that each cricket team has to get 10 of in each of the two innings in order to get their opponents "all out."

If true, then it blows apart the assumption that cricket evolved from children's games played in Anglo-Saxon England, between 449 and 1066.

Until Mr Campbell's discovery of the poem, it has been long believed that the first written reference to the hallowed game was in 1589 when a former Royal Grammar School pupil recalled how he and his classmates 'did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies'.

However, we should take the academic's views with a pinch of salt. He's from Australia, the country that is England's deadliest rival in cricket and rugby.

'Cricket was invented in continental Europe,' claims Australian academic

By Richard Shears
01st March 2009
Daily Mail

It's a claim that will have the honourable members of Lord's choking on their G&Ts - cricket did not originate in England but was introduced to our village greens by none other than the Belgians, the Dutch and, good lor', the French.

And while this assumption comes out of left field, so to speak, it may not be such a surprise to learn that it's from Australia, England's great cricketing rival, that the claim is being made.

Paul Campbell, an academic at the department of English and theatre at Canberra's Australian National University, says he has unearthed evidence that immigrants from Flanders - today's Belgium, France and Holland - brought the game to English shores in the 14th century.

It just isn't cricket: Australian academic Paul Campbell claims immigrants from Flanders first brought the bat-and-ball sport to England in the 14th century

And while cricket lovers will insist that this just cannot be true of the game that has always been assumed to have evolved from children's games played in England since Anglo-Saxon times (between 449 and 1066) Mr Campbell says the evidence can be found in the written words of history, where he has found the first known reference to the game.

He points to a 16th century work, attributed to John Skelton, a popular poet and playwright, who makes a reference to 'creckette' in one of his writings, in which he also refers to weavers from Flanders who brought the game to English shores.

In his poem 'The Image of Ipocrisie', he hits out against the Flemish weavers who set up home in the south and east of England in the 1300s, describing them sarcastically as 'kings of crekettes'.

Wishing them to be sent packing from the shores of Merry England, he wrote in the language of the time: 'O lorde of Ipocrites, Now shut vpp your wickettes, 'And clape to your clickettes, A! Farewell, kings of crekettes!'

Mr Campbell unearthed the poem as he searched historical archives looking for different ways in which the word cricket was spelled in earlier centuries.

As he continued his research, Mr Campbell learned that the weavers played the game on fields close to where they watched over their sheep. They used their curved shepherd's crooks as bats to strike a ball.

Consulting a German academic, Mr Campbell learned that the term cricket has its roots in a Flemish phrase which means to 'chase with a curved stick'.

This has given rise to further suggestions that both cricket and hockey were copies of games of chivalry in which a knight on horseback guarded a narrow passageway.

Until Mr Campbell's discovery of the poem, it has been long believed that the first written reference to the hallowed game was in the 1589 when a former Royal Grammar School pupil recalled how he and his classmates 'did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies'.

John Eddowes, an historian and authority on English cricket, says Mr Campbell's discovery of the old poem is 'extremely significant' in backing up the theory that cricket was imported by Flemish immigrants.

Weavers, he explains, were the 'aristocrats of labour, having the leisure time to play sports and brought their games with them when English kings invited them to this country from at least 1331 to improve the quality of English woollen exports.'

He agrees that the reference to 'wickettes' was evidence that cricket was being referred to and that it was being played after the Flemish arrived.


The Simple Rules of Cricket

Cricket is a fairly complicated game to play (and always has TWO batsmen batting at the same time, none of that easy peasy nonsense like baseball) with many rules including around 10 ways for a player to be out. It is also a high scoring game (such as England scoring 600 runs this week against the West Indies) and thus there are many mathematicians who are fans.

Here are the simplified rules...

Cricket fielder positions (click picture for larger and clearer view)

The rules of cricket have served the game well for over 250 years and are described in detail on the Marylebone Cricket Club Website. The MCC has been the custodian of the Laws of Cricket since 1787. The Laws are complex, but the following simplified explanation will be enough to get you started.

Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players each. Each team bats (takes its innings) in turn, the choice for first innings being decided by tossing a coin.

The centre of the action is a pitch 22 yards long with wickets (three cricket stumps) placed at each end, though a shorter pitch can be used by children. The pitch is roughly in the centre of the playing area, the edge of which is marked by a line or a rope about 50 yards from the wickets.

Two batsmen play in partnership to score runs against the bowling of the fielding side. The bowlers aim to restrict scoring and to dismiss the batsmen in one of the ways described in the rules of cricket.

The fielding captain decides which of his players will bowl. Each bowler bowls an “over” of six overarm deliveries from one end of the pitch (and the ball must bounce before it is hit), then the play switches so that an over is then bowled from the other end of the pitch, and so it alternates with each over. No bowler can deliver two overs in succession.

The score is counted by “runs”, which are the number of times the batsmen run from end to end of the area between the two “popping creases” – lines across the pitch four feet from each wicket. So if the two batsmen run back and forth three times, three runs are awarded.

Runs are usually the result of a hit by the bat; a hit across the pitch boundary scores four runs if it goes along the floor, or six if it crosses without touching the ground.

There are ten ways to get a batsman out:

  • Law 30: Bowled . A batsman is out if his wicket (the three wooden stumps that the batsman stands in front of to guard) is put down by a ball delivered by the bowler. It is irrelevant whether the ball has touched the bat, glove, or any part of the batsman before going on to put down the wicket, though it may not touch another player or an umpire before doing so.
  • Law 31: Timed out . An incoming batsman must be ready to face a ball (or be at the crease with his partner ready to face a ball) within 3 minutes of the outgoing batsman being dismissed, otherwise the incoming batsman will be out.
  • Law 32: Caught . If a ball hits the bat or the hand holding the bat and is then caught by the opposition within the field of play before the ball bounces, then the batsman is out.
  • Law 33: Handled the ball . If a batsman wilfully handles the ball with a hand that is not touching the bat without the consent of the opposition, he is out.
  • Law 34: Hit the ball twice . If a batsman hits the ball twice other than for the purposes of protecting his wicket or with the consent of the opposition, he is out.
  • Law 35: Hit wicket . If, after the bowler has entered his delivery stride and while the ball is in play, a batsman puts his wicket down by his bat or his person he is out. The striker is also out hit wicket if he puts his wicket down by his bat or his person in setting off for a first run. "Person" includes the clothes and equipment of the batsman.
  • Law 36: Leg before wicket . If the ball hits the batsman without first hitting the bat, but would have hit the wicket if the batsman was not there, and the ball does not pitch on the leg side of the wicket the batsman will be out. However, if the ball strikes the batsman outside the line of the off-stump, and the batsman was attempting to play a stroke, he is not out.
  • Law 37: Obstructing the field . If a batsman wilfully obstructs the opposition by word or action, he is out.
  • Law 38: Run out . A batsman is out if at any time while the ball is in play no part of his bat or person is grounded behind the popping crease and his wicket is fairly put down by the opposing side.
  • Law 39: Stumped . A batsman is out when the wicket-keeper (see Law 40) puts down the wicket, while the batsman is out of his crease and not attempting a run.

The innings is complete either when all but one of the batsmen are out (10 of the team's 11 players), or when an agreed number of overs has been bowled, or when the batting captain has declared the innings closed.

A match consists of one or two innings by each side. In time limited matches, the side scoring the highest aggregate of runs wins. If the match is not played to a finish then the result is a draw, except in the case of some limited overs games where the winning side is the one that scored most runs during its share of the overs.

The rules of cricket might seem complex at first, but will become second nature once the game gets into your blood!

The simple rules of cricket
Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 1st, 2009 at 02:12 PM..
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Here's Kings XI Punjab vs Sunrisers Hyderabad in a recent match in the Indian Premier League of Twenty20 cricket (the shortest form of the game, with a maximum of just 20 overs bowled each innings).

The IPL is the world's greatest Twenty20 cricket tournament and is being broadcast on ITV4 here in Britain at the moment. I'm hooked.

Last edited by Blackleaf; May 11th, 2014 at 01:29 PM..