When, and where, did cricket originate?
Conventional wisdom dictates that cricket derives from the ancient game of ‘club-ball’, although it is unclear whether the latter was a specific game, or a generic term used to describe a variety of folk-games – all of which involved hitting a ball with a stick – which were popular in Medieval England. Similarly, the name ‘cricket’ is believed to derive from the Middle French word ‘criquet’, meaning ‘goal post’, and came into usage during the Norman Period.
What is better known is the history of cricket from the mid-fifteenth century onwards. During the reign of Elizabeth I, in 1598, Surrey county coroner John Derrick testified in court to playing a game known as ‘creckett’ on a plot of common land in Guildford while a pupil at the Royal Grammar School, formerly the Free School, fifty years earlier. Certainly, by the early sixteenth century, cricket was well established throughout the home counties of England, including Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The first reference to a ‘great match’, an eleven-a-side affair for fifty guineas, was recorded in Sussex in 1697 and, just over a decade later, in 1709, the first recorded inter-county match, between Kent and Surrey, was staged.
Other landmark dates in the history of cricket include 1744, when the Laws of Cricket were first issued by the London Club, and 1788, when the Laws of Cricket were revised by the newly-formed Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). For the record, the first Test match took place between Australia and England in Melbourne in 1877, with the home team winning by 45 runs.