निम्न लिखित लेख क्रिकेट के आरंभिक इतिहास के बारे मैं है,
AMID much fanfare, the 150th edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack was published last week. The annual, a mix of statistics and features that not even two world wars could keep from the presses, is ubiquitously referred to as the bible of cricket. So revered is Wisden, in its distinctive yellow jacket, that in 2007 Bonhams, an auctioneer, sold a complete set of what was then 144 volumes for £84,000 ($165,000). The Guardian estimates the price of a full set today at £135,000.
Perhaps the most famous copy belonged to E.W. Swanton, a renowned cricket writer. Taken prisoner by the Japanese in Singapore during the second world war, Swanton was forced to work on the Burma-Siam railway. Conditions were unimaginably harsh: thousands of prisoners died in its construction; Swanton contracted polio but survived. His tatty copy of the 1939 Wisden, declared permissible reading by his Japanese guards, was one of the prisoners’ rare distractions. So popular was it that loans had to be rationed to an hour.
The 150th edition contains a list of the ten most significant cricketing events to have happened since the first one was first published in 1864. This includes the inception in 1882 of the Ashes, the private battle between England and Australia for a tiny urn in which lies the symbolic ashes of English cricket. It also takes in the 29th instalment of that series—the Bodyline Tests of 1932-33—in which England’s fast bowling, aimed at the Australians’ heads and bodies, almost ended diplomatic relations. The D’Oliveira affair, which led to the sporting boycott of South Africa, is naturally included. So is another South African scandal, Hansie Cronje’s match-fixing. The list ends with the establishment of the Indian Premier League in 2008.
However, although it gives a good impression of an elder statesman, at 150 years old Wisden is a mere arriviste. The first recorded mention of a cricket match dates from around 1550, just after the death of Henry VIII. Had the almanac been around since then, what other events might have demanded inclusion? Game Theory humbly offers five suggestions.
Long before Cronje took the bookmakers’ lucre, cricket had attracted gamblers. At the turn of the 18th century, most of England’s wealth was in the hands of a few landowners. These had plenty of leisure time. To amuse themselves, they became patrons to teams formed to play for high stakes. In one of the first references to this, from 1697, the sides at a match in Sussex split 100 guineas. By 1723 the game had its most famous patron when Charles Lennox succeeded his father to become the second duke of Richmond.
As Sir John Major, a former British prime minister and cricket historian, noted in “More Than a Game”, “money was to be the root of all progress”. With so much cash riding on the outcome of games, so came the need for more tightly defined rules. Several matches had already ended in riots—and lawsuits—after perceived underhandedness by patrons. The first recorded attempt at settling on some basic rules was made for a match in 1727. Formal laws, however, were not drawn up until 1744, making cricket the first game to be codified. These laid out, among other things, the dimensions of the pitch, the height of the wicket, the weight of the ball, the length of overs and the various ways of being out.
The middle stump, 1775
Bowlers are a grumpy breed at the best of times. One can only guess at the expletives uttered by Lumpy Stevens, the most formidable bowler of the late 18th century, as he produced three perfect (underarm) deliveries, which, one imagines, pitched on off stump and jagged back to strike halfway up middle—only for it then to dawn on Lumpy that the middle stump had yet to be adopted. Instead the three balls sailed harmlessly through without dislodging the bail. It was this spell that encouraged an early amendment to the laws: the introduction of a third stump. Modern bowlers who complain that cricket has become a batsman’s game should perhaps be grateful they weren’t toiling away in the time of George II.
American independence, 1776
Just a year after the introduction of a third stump, England was hit by a shock with almost equal cultural significance: the loss of its American colony. Cricket and baseball had been played side by side in England, and both sports had been eagerly exported to the New World. Well into the 19th century, cricket was a popular American game: indeed, the first international cricket match was between the United States and Canada in 1840. In 1859, an England XI set sail for New Jersey to play a match against the Americans before a crowd of 24,000 (England won). But ever since the revolution, America had begun to break free from Britain’s gravitational pull. And so baseball, losing popularity in England, had already started its slow ascent to pre-eminence. By the end of the 19th century there was no debate as to which sport had won American hearts. Is it fanciful to speculate that, without the revolution, a British America would have been cricket’s powerhouse today?
The founding of the Marylebone Cricket Club, 1787
As with much of cricket’s past, the history of the MCC is uncertain. It was probably the latest incarnation of a club that had played under several names, including the White Conduit Club. But most date the MCC’s birth from 1787, when it asked Thomas Lord, a businessman and cricketer, to find it a ground. From the outset it “took precedence over all other clubs” writes Sir John. “It had prestige, rank and the endorsement of cricket’s leading sponsors.” A year later it revised the laws of cricket and it has been their guardian ever since. Although the International Cricket Council now runs the show from Dubai, the MCC still holds the copyright to cricket. So important was it that for most of the 20th century English Test teams abroad played under the name of the Marylebone Cricket Club. The MCC moved to its current home in 1811, a mile from the original site. Lord’s is almost universally referred to as the “home of cricket”.
Overarm bowling, 1864
For much of the game’s early history, cricket balls were delivered underarm. At first it was rolled along the ground; only later did bowlers start to use bounce. In 1780 one Tom Walker started to bowl with a roundarm action, his arm horizontal to the ground. This was thought to be against the spirit of the game and he was called for “throwing”. As Amol Rajan describes in his book “Twirlymen”, he was being chastised “not for straightening his arm but for raising it too high. In other words they thought he was a cheat, not a chucker.” By the middle of the 19th century, however, roundarm bowling was the norm. Canny bowlers tried to gain more advantage by moving their arm ever closer to the vertical. Although at first they were often no-balled, by 1864 the overarm style was legalised. So began the modern era of cricket.
In the same year a bowler of some repute called John Wisden gathered some statistics, about both cricket and unrelated topics, such as the English civil war, and published them in an almanack.