The origins of cricket are very vague, and many theories have been put forward suggesting its origins. Extensive studies and research have been conducted to trace its history and they have come out with different versions. However it is commonly accepted that the game originated from a very old leisure activity indulged by shepherds. The shepherds used crook and other farm equipments to hit a ball like deceive which used to be made up of wool or stone.
The first evidence of cricket being played was recorded in the year 1550, by the pupils of Royal Grammar School, Guildford in England. In the year 1611 it is reported that two young men from Sussex were punished for playing cricket instead of going to the church. The first match is recorded to have been played at Coxheath in Kent in the year 1646.
Earlier cricket used to thrive greatly as a gambling game. People used to place huge amounts of bets in matches and thus the game started to get recognition. Cricket was in fact a major gambling sport towards the end of the 17th century. It is recorded that in the year 1679, an 11-a-side match was played with stakes as high as 50 guineas per side.
During the 18th century cricket survived and thrived due to the huge amounts of money via monetary backing and gambling. The first instance of a match to be played between counties in England is recorded to be on 29th June in the year 1709. This match was played between Surrey and Kent at Dartford Brent.
The 18th century also witnessed the emergence of two types of cricket players. They were known as the retained player and the individual player. Generally the retained player was the servant of the Lord and a cricketer as well. On the other hand the individual player was free to play for a payment anywhere with his skills.
However, during the 18th century, several changes to the game began to take place. Large crowds gathered to watch matches take place on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury, London, with ‘single wicket’ games being the most popular. The practice of ‘bowling’ a ball (rather than rolling or skimming it towards the batman) didn’t come into effect until 1760. This, in turn, caused changes to the original bat design, which had been shaped more like a hockey stick.
The infamous Hambledon Club was founded in the 1760s, and went on to be the post prominent club until the formation of the MCC 20 years later. Practices such as using the three stump wicket and leg before wicket also were not to be included until the latter part of the 18th century.
In the year 1787, the Marylebone Cricket Club also known MCC was created. The MCC has since then gone on to become one of the most prominent bodies in world cricket. Cricket in its initial days were restricted to the aristocratic class of England. Cricket gradually went on to become the national game of England.
The late 18th century was a very crucial phase for the development of the game, both within and outside Britain. The game was spread far and wide mainly due to England’s imperialism. The British Empire had lead to the overseas expansion of the game and, in 1844, the first international cricket match was played between the United States and Canada. The game continued to develop, and underarm bowling was replaced, first by roundarm and then by overarm bowling during the 19th century.
Cricket is often said to have entered a new era in 1963, as it was at this time that English counties introduced the limited overs variant. This saw an increase in the number of games which could be logistically played, and lead to the first ever limited overs One Day International (ODI) Cricket World Cup in 1975 in England.
The game continues to evolve today, whilst staying true to its historic origins, with the latest significant change being a new form of the limited overs game, known as Twenty20, gaining much popularity.
In the present times, cricket has its own following of loyal fans. The International Cricket Council, better known as the ICC is the governing body in world cricket. The ICC was founded on the 15th of June 1909. All laws relating to Twenty20, ODIs and Test Cricket are framed and implemented by the ICC.