By Sohail Loun
George Bernadette Shah once said that cricket is a game played by eleven madmen and watched by eleven thousand insane people. When he said this, at that time, the number of cricket fans may have been as much as 11 thousand people come to watch a match, but today, the world of cricket is second only to football in terms of fans. Currently, the number of cricket fans worldwide has exceeded 2.6 billions.
When England started playing cricket on a limited scale in the 16th century, who could have imagined that the game would become so popular that a country like India, where there are 22 national languages, would have a single language of cricket? In Pakistan, it is the only game that makes us Pakistani in moments, removing all communalism and provincialism.
The British invented cricket but could only become the world champion until July 2019. In 1700, the British ruled the world, and the British Empire introduced cricket, which ran its language, laws, and parliamentary system worldwide. At that time, people had no particular sport or activity to pass the time.
People used to engage in cockfights or do bare-knuckle boxing with metal buckles on their hands; in both cases, blood would come out. In such a case, playing cricket was considered a noble sport that enjoyed royal patronage. When cricket was becoming popular initially, it faced much opposition from religious extremists.
Christian preachers like Khadim Rizvi of that era did not like to watch or play cricket instead of coming to church on Sundays. In 1611, two Sussex players were court-martialled for playing cricket instead of going to church on Sunday. In 1664, Parliament passed the Gambling Act, according to which the betting or betting limit in cricket was set at £100. In 1696, when the media became free, reporting on cricket began.
The famous poet of that time, James Dance’s poem on cricket, was published on July 5, 1744, after which poetry on cricket began to be published in regular newspapers. In the history of cricket, the first player who died during the game was Henry Brand. He died after being hit by Thomas Latter Bat in the head in 1616.
The second incident occurred in 1749 when Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of George II and Queen Caroline, was killed by a ball while watching a match. Prince himself was also a good cricketer. Bouncers have also killed India’s Raman Lamba and Australian batsman Phil Huges.
In 1730, this game had become popular among spectators. The Duke of Richmond, Sir William Gage, and Edward Stead made cricket a top-rated game in England in two decades. In 1747, women also started playing regular cricket. By 1750, the basic rules were also introduced in cricket, including the method of scoring runs and bowling. Earlier, bowlers used to do underarm bowling, then the roundarm, and finally, the overarm procedure was legalized, which is also included in modern cricket today. Until 1776, cricket grounds and pitches were also built in England. Even before that, bowling was done on uneven ground, and two sticks were fitted in the ground, considered the stump. The umpire also had a stick in his hand, which the batsman would touch to complete the runs; after that, a hole would be dug near the wickets, and the batsman would touch it to complete the runs.
After overarm bowling, players started to get injured due to the speed and bounce of the ball, so the flat pitch was introduced, which was initially 22 yards in length. Then, three wickets and the crease were introduced. Club Cricket was founded in 1770. White Condit Club, Islington Club, and Marylebone Cricket Club were the most popular clubs of that era. The history of cricket is not complete without MCC. From 1776, playing with three wickets was made a law. In 1787, Lords, the most historic cricket ground in the world, was built.
It took a century before international Test cricket started. Test cricket officially began in 1877 but became famous in 1882 with the Ashes series. England’s historic defeat by Australia made the two countries traditional rivals in the cricket field. In 1848, Nicholas Wanostracht invented gloves to protect the hands and pads to protect the legs from the ball, which he also mentioned in his book Felix on the Bat.
In the 19th century, cricket had spread to all counties. Kent County is considered to be the first cricket county. After playing cricket matches against Australia, England also started playing against South Africa. Playing County cricket in England was considered an honour. In the 1970s, Worcestershire County signed Imran Khan on a one-year contract. Imran Khan also mentioned in his autobiography Imran Khan by Christopher Sandford that he remodeled his bowling action thanks to county cricket.
When Australian batsman Graham Yelp, for the first time in the history of cricket, used a helmet to face the stormy bowling of the West Indies in 1878, some observers said it was surprising that it took a century for people to think of protecting their legs and genitals as well as their heads. Vivian Richards described playing with a helmet as cowardice and never put a helmet on. IPL, Big Bash, PSL, etc., have affected the England cricket county for a while, but it has been associated with such a situation in the 1850s. Marketing expert Charles Dicken was sent to England, who arranged for leading players of the time to travel to Australia for £150, even though players were earning £3 per match in England at the time.
On August 31, 1769, when Minshull scored the first-ever century against Wrotham playing for Dorset’s, no one would have thought that one day Sachin Tendulkar would also score a century of centuries. In 1877, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australian batsman Charles Bannerman scored the first century in the history of Test cricket against England.
England’s Allan Steel has the honour of making the first century in the historic ground of Lords. He played an innings of 148 against Australia in 1884. The first century in the subcontinent was made by R. Vansittart in 1806 in Calcutta. In 1868, two opposite teams started wearing two different coloured caps. In 1900, six-ball overs were introduced instead of four balls. According to the law of 1947, six or eight-ball overs were allowed according to the circumstances. Under the same law, the first World Cup of 1975 was played in which eight ball overs were played. After 1979, only six ball-overs were made a law, which is still valid.
In 1909, the governing body of cricket was formed under the Imperial Cricket Council, which included representatives from England, Australia, and South Africa. In 1965, it was named the International Cricket Conference. In 1989, it was called ICC, a global governing body, which was moved from England to Dubai in 2005. The total number of members is 105, of which 12 are full members, i.e., they have been given test status, while 93 are associate members. On the contrary, in football, all members have equal status. In 1977, when the Carry Packer World Series was played in Australia wearing coloured uniforms, it was widely criticized, and the players who participated in it also faced fines and bans. But the colour of cricket today is owed to this carrier.
The 1992 World Cup was played with coloured uniforms and a white ball in which the uniforms were coloured in the ODI matches. As the dynamics of the world have changed and things have been swifter than before, T20 was introduced, and since 2007, its regular World Cup has also been held. Currently, work is being done to include cricket in the Olympics by launching T10 regularly, and soon, the Chinese cricket team will also be introduced to the world. Modern technology and the third umpire have increased the game’s transparency, and the fans’ interest has increased further.
After the downfall of the British Empire, America proved to be a superpower and monopolized sports. Instead of promoting cricket, he popularized football, rugby, and baseball. Today, sports coverage is dominated by America. With the rise of nations, their language, culture, laws, and national sports become popular worldwide. When the Muslims were on the rise, which sport did they popularize? Do Muslims see a rise in the coming times? Our focus is on the 13th World Cup to be held in India.
Who rules the world? We will see in a few days. Losing is part of the game, but I have no qualms about writing that today’s mass media has played an essential role in globalizing the world through sports. They are playing a vital role by bringing nations closer to each other, and the role of cricket in making the world a global village is unforgettable and can be considered a good omen for the future.
About Author:Sohail Ahmad Loun is a sports critic and his cricket commentaries and columns are published in national newspapers of Pakistan and United Kingdom