The earliest reference to cricket was in 1598, when it was called ‘ Creckett ‘. There are various opinions as to the source of this word, ranging from Old English to Flemish, and some even believe that cricket itself was originally Flemish. This reference was in a court case which referred to a game of “creckett” played at the Royal Grammar School Guildford around 1550. Originally it is thought to have been a children’s game, but there is evidence that by 1610 it was being played by adults. Inter-parish games or what is now called ‘village cricket’ was being played soon after this date.
The 17th century saw rapid development of cricket in the South East of England with many references to organised matches played for ‘ high stakes ‘, and the first professional players.
There is a newspaper report of a ‘great cricket match’ being played in Sussex in 1697, again for high stakes. The Eighteenth century saw further expansion with rich backers forming their own 11 a-side cricket teams, and betting on the results of matches. As early as 1707, there are reports of large crowds flocking to the ‘ Artillery Ground ‘ in Finsbury, London to watch cricket.
At this stage the cricket ball was rolled or skimmed at a single wicket, and the cricket bat was shaped more like a hockey stick. It was not until around 1760 that bowlers started to bounce the cricket ball, leading to the bat becoming more like the modern design. The three stump wicket was introduced in the latter part of this century, and over-arm bowling in the early 19th century.
The ‘ Hambledon Club ‘ was founded in the 1760’s and was the main focus of cricket until the formation of the ‘ Marylebone Cricket Club ‘ or MCC, and the opening of the ‘ Lords Old Ground ‘ in 1787. The MCC then became the premier club and custodian of the ‘ Laws of Cricket ‘.
The first English County side was Sussex in 1839, and the County Championship was officially formed in 1890. By now the expansion of the British Empire had taken cricket overseas including gambling on Cricket, and by the middle of the 19th century cricket was well established in India, North America, the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, the first international cricket game was played between the United States and Canada in 1844, although neither of these countries has yet achieved ‘ Test Status ‘ in the modern game.
The first overseas cricket tour was when England travelled to North America in 1859, followed in 1862 with England’s first tour to Australia. 1876/77 saw the first ever ‘ Test Match ‘ when England played Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was the increasing rivalry between the two countries which culminated in the start of the ‘ Ashes ‘ series in 1882. The Ashes remains the most famous contest in world cricket. The next country to play a Test match was South Africa in 1888, again against England.
Test match cricket expanded still further during the first half of the 20th century, with first the West Indies in 1928, followed by New Zealand in 1929 and India in 1932 all playing Test matches. The remaining Test ranked sides all started playing after the second World War, with Pakistan in 1952, Sri Lanka in 1982, Zimbabwe in 1992 and Bangladesh in 2000. These countries remain the only Test match countries, although South Africa were suspended from 1970 to 1992 due to the apartheid policy of their government, and Zimbabwe were suspended in 2006 and have not yet been reinstated as a ‘ Test ‘ side.
Cricket is now played in at least 105 countries around the world.
In 1963, the English Counties voted to introduce ‘ Limited Overs Cricket ‘ in an attempt to increase attendances and revenue, by ensuring that there was a result to all cricket games. The idea was a big success and spread throughout the cricket world. 1971 saw the first limited overs cricket international, and the International Cricket Council ( ICC ) staged the first limited overs cricket World Cup in 1975.
From a betting point of view, it should be remembered that the result of a limited overs cricket match can be decided by bad weather curtailing the game, leading to the use of the Duckworth- Lewis method of calculating new winning totals required to win the game. The Duckworth-Lewis formula is named after its inventors, and is used to compare a team’s performance based on runs scored, wickets lost and balls faced. It could be used to decide a winner if bad weather prevents further play during the second innings of a cricket match, or to set a new winning target if the full quota of overs are not possible in the second innings.
In 2003, an even shorter form of the game of cricket was introduced, and called Twenty20. The original idea was to be able to have a full game of cricket in little more than 3 hours, starting in the early evening so that fans could attend after work. Although not universally welcomed by the traditionalists in cricket, the result was an immediate success with a much wider audience, including families attending matches. It has also proved popular in betting circles, producing a result very much quicker than other forms of the game.
2007 saw the first cricket Twenty20 World Championship, won by India. The Indian Premier League is now the biggest and richest cricket tournament, attracting huge crowds, worldwide media coverage and the top players from all over the world.
Betting on cricket has had a great deal of publicity in recent years, not all of it good. The game does however provide the opportunity to forecast a huge range of possibilities beyond the match result. Total runs, total wickets, next wicket, how out, sixes, fours, catches are just a few. First Class cricket is also played somewhere in the world throughout the year, and betting opportunities therefore exist almost every day.