Cricket: A Brief History

Cricket started in England in the 16th century. The first official Laws of Cricket were codified in 1744, and the sport grew rapidly through the late 1700s and early 1800s, when most of the modern English domestic clubs were founded.


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A cricket ball.

Cricket was subsequently spread to England's colonies, and rules that came along in the early 1900s promised that only countries in the British Empire could belong to cricket as an international sport. The legacy of this still lingers on the sport: All of the top International Cricket Council member countries — Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe — were formerly long-time British colonies.

In spreading to Britain's colonies, cricket did spread to the U.S. In fact, the world's first international cricket match was actually a match between the United States and Canada in 1844. That was also the modern world's first international sporting event, even predating the revived Olympic Games.

But baseball came onto the scene around the time of the Civil War, effectively forcing cricket out. Baseball was faster and had less equipment requirements. It was also easy to pick up, making it more suited to the times of upheaval around the war. Baseball became wildly popular in the late 1800s, eclipsing cricket.

The U.S. was officially shut out of cricket in 1909 when the Imperial Cricket Conference formed to govern the sport, ruling that only countries within the British Empire could belong. The U.S. didn't rejoin the renamed International Cricket Council until 1965 and was later suspended in 2007. The U.S. returned to the ICC in 2008 but has not performed well in international tournaments.

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For an in-depth history of cricket in the U.S., including evidence that George Washington's troops played cricket at Valley Forge, see this history from the Smithsonian.

Limited-overs forms, which would morph into One Day International and Twenty20 down the road, began to develop in the 1960s in England's domestic leagues. One Day Internationals officially came along in 1971. Twenty20 is much newer, having first developed in 2003.

The first World Cup was held in 1975 in England with eight countries participating. It has been held every four years since then, except for a five-year gap between the 1987 and 1992 World Cups. The Cricket World Cup was held most recently in 2011, when India won the cup and 14 countries participated.

About this site

If you're an American looking to understand the sport cricket (sometimes called baseball's lost twin), this is the website for you. From a fellow American who was once as confused as you are, you can learn the sport's basics, terminology, relation to baseball and a brief history.

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