Derivation of the name of "cricket"
A number of words are thought to be possible sources for the term cricket, which could refer to the bat or the wicket. In old French, the word criquet meant a kind of club which probably gave its name to croquet. Some believe that cricket and croquet have a common origin. In Flemish, krick(e) means a stick, and, in Old English, cricc or cryce means a crutch or staff (though the hard /k/ sound suggests the North or Northeast midlands, rather than the Southeast, where cricket seems to have begun).
Alternatively, the French criquet apparently comes from the Flemish word krickstoel, which is a long low stool on which one kneels in church which may appear similar to the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket, or the early stool in stoolball. The word stool is old Sussex dialect for a tree stump, and stool ball is a sport similar to cricket played by the Dutch.
Codification of rules
The first recorded codification of the rules of cricket is the Code of 1744. This specified that:
the pitch be 22 yards long,
the distance between the bowling crease and popping crease be 46 inches,
the wickets be 22 inches tall and 6 inches wide,
and the ball weigh between 5 and 6 ounces.
On September 23, 1771, Shock White of Reigate used a bat fully as wide as a wicket against the Hambledon Club. This prompted the Hambledon Club to record a minute to the effect that the maximum width of a cricket bat be set at four and a quarter inches. Other clubs quickly adopted this standard, using metal gauges to check the size of bats before allowing their use.
The first printed version of the rules was published by W Read in 1775. Then in 1788, the Marylebone Cricket Club published a set of Laws of Cricket, which contained the first complete codification of the rules of the game and the dimensions of the pitch and equipment. Other cricket clubs across England quickly adopted the MCC's Laws and cricket became standardised for the first time. The MCC remains the custodian of the Laws of Cricket to the present day. The laws were recodified in 1947, 1980 and 2000.
Development of rules
An artwork depicting the history of the cricket bat. (Click on the image for larger view)In 1821, the distance between the bowling and popping creases was increased from 46 to 48 inches. On May 10, 1838, the size of a cricket ball was codified for the first time, being a circumference between 9 and 9 1/4 inches.
By 1853, the cricket bat had been developed into roughly its modern form, being carved from a single piece of willow and attached to a cane handle.
In 1864, overarm bowling was allowed for the first time. Prior to this, only underarm bowling had been legal.
In 1865, creases were painted with whitewash for the first time. Prior to this, the creases were cut into the turf, forming small ditches an inch in width and depth.
In 1889 a bowler may change ends as often as he likes in an innings (subject to not bowling two consecutive overs) (previously he could only change ends once or twice); a side could declare its innings closed for the first time.
Balls per over
The number of balls in each over has changed throughout cricket?s history. The earliest rules of cricket specified that four balls were bowled in each over.
In 1889 four ball overs were replaced by five ball overs, and then this was changed to the current six balls an over in 1900. Since then, many countries have experimented with eight balls an over. In 1922 the number of balls per over was changed from six to eight in Australia only. In 1924 the eight ball over was extended to New Zealand and in 1937 to South Africa. The 1947 code allowed six or eight balls depending on the conditions of play.
Since the 1979/80 Australian and New Zealand seasons, the six ball over has been used worldwide and the most recent, 2000, code only permits six ball overs.
In the 1960s, English county teams began playing a version of cricket with modified rules. Instead of allowing each team two innings and requiring the team to be dismissed in each one, they set up games of only one innings each, and decreed that the innings would be completed when a maximum number of overs had been bowled if they hadn?t ended earlier.
This change to the rules allowed a game to be completed within one day. This did not supplant the traditional long format of the game, which continued to be played. Indeed, many cricket fans considered the shorter form of the game to be a corruption of the sport. One-day cricket did however have the advantage of delivering a result to spectators within a single day, thus improving cricket's appeal to younger or busier people.