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History and Sport: The Story of Cricket
Cricket grew out of the many stick-and-ball games played in England 500 years ago, under a variety of different rules. The word ‘bat’ is an old English word that simply means stick or club. By the seventeenth century, cricket had evolved enough to be recognisable as a distinct game and it was popular enough for its fans to be fined for playing it on Sunday instead of going to church. Till the middle of the eighteenth century, bats were roughly the same shape as hockey sticks, curving outwards at the bottom. There was a simple reason for this: the ball was bowled underarm, along the ground and the curve at the end of the bat gave the batsman the best chance of making contact.
How that early version of cricket played in village England grew into the modern game played in giant stadiums in great cities is a proper subject for history because one of the uses of history is to understand how the present was made. And sport is a large part of contemporary life: it is one way in which we amuse ourselves, compete with each other, stay fit, and express our social loyalties. If tens of millions of Indians today drop everything to watch the Indian team play a Test match or a one-day international, it is reasonable for a history of India to explore how that stick-and-ball game invented in south-eastern England became the ruling passion of the Indian sub-continent. This is particularly so, since the game was linked to the wider history of colonialism and nationalism and was in part shaped by the politics of religion and caste.
Our history of cricket will look first at the evolution of cricket as a game in England, and discuss the wider culture of physical training and athleticism of the time. It will then move to India, discuss the history of the adoption of cricket in this country, and trace the modern transformation of the game. In each of these sections we will see how the history of the game was connected to the social history of the time.
The Historical Development of Cricket as a Game in England
The social and economic history of England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, cricket’s early years, shaped the game and gave cricket its unique nature. For example, one of the peculiarities of Test cricket is that a match can go on for five days and still end in a draw. No other modern team sport takes even half as much time to complete. A football match is generally over in an hour-and-a-half of playing time. Even baseball, a long-drawn-out bat-and-ball game by the standards of modern sport, completes nine innings in less than half the time that it takes to play a limited-overs match, the shortened version of modern cricket!
Another curious characteristic of cricket is that the length of the pitch is specified – 22 yards – but the size or shape of the ground is not. Most other team sports, such as hockey and football lay down the dimensions of the playing area: cricket does not. Grounds can be oval like the Adelaide Oval or nearly circular, like Chepauk in Chennai. A six at the Melbourne Cricket Ground needs to clear much more ground than a lofted shot for the same reward at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
1. Test cricket is a unique game in many ways. Discuss some of the ways in which it is different from other team games. How are the peculiarities of Test cricket shaped by its historical beginnings as a village game?
2. Describe one way in which in the nineteenth century, technology brought about a change in equipment and give one example where no change in equipment took place.
3. Explain why cricket became popular in India and the West Indies. Can you give reasons why it did not become popular in countries in South America?
4. Give brief explanations for the following:
A. The Parsis were the first Indian community to set up a cricket club in India.
B.Mahatma Gandhi condemned the Pentangular tournament.
C. The name of the ICC was changed from the Imperial Cricket Conference to the International Cricket Conference.
D.The significance of the shift of the ICC headquarters from London to Dubai
5. How have advances in technology, especially television technology, affected the development of contemporary cricket?
Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 9 History The Story of Cricket