Whether you’re thinking of following England on tour or just catching a game at the local county ground, it’s always handy to know a little bit about the history and rules of the game.
The origins of cricket
No one is 100% sure how cricket started, but the best guess is that it was played in a simple form by children during the Norman era. It is believed that it was first taken up by adults at around the beginning of the 17th century. By the middle of that century parish teams were playing regularly across the country. After the Restoration cricket’s popularity grew and noblemen began investing in the game and acting as patrons. It is at this time that county teams began to form.
The spread of cricket worldwide
As Britain’s empire expanded so did the number of people playing the game. First came North America, followed by the Caribbean colonies, India, Sri Lanka, Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Wherever the British went, cricket followed. And by the end of the 18th century cricket was being played wherever imperial rule reigned.
The origins of test cricket
Test cricket is considered the pinnacle of the sport and is contested only by those teams who have been awarded test status by the ICC. These are England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, The West Indies and Bangladesh.
The first test match was played between England and Australia at the MCG in 1877. That wasn’t the first international cricket match however: that honour goes to a match played between USA and Canada on 24 and 25 September 1844.
Silly mid off: cricket positions explained
If you’re going to convince people you’re a true cricket aficionado, you’ll need to understand all of the crazy sounding fielding positions. You know the type “Cook has moved Trott out to silly mid-on in an attempt to pick up a wicket off the spin bowler.” So, listen carefully, here goes.
The Off Side:
The off side is in front of the batsman as he takes guard at the crease.
The On Side
The on side is behind him. This is also known as ‘leg side’.
Nice simple one this. He’s the bloke wearing gloves and standing behind the batsman.
The first slip stands two arms lengths to the side of the keeper. The second slip stands another two arms lengths away and the third slip a further two.
This is a close in position that is at 45 degrees from the batsman.
Point is another close-in position and is stationed at 90 degrees from the batsman.
Silly point is very close and very much in the line of the batsman’s shot. So much so that he requires extra protective equipment, such as a helmet and shin pads. This is presumably why it’s called ‘silly’.
On the opposite side of the wicket from silly point is “short leg”. Again protective gear is often required.
Mid-on & mid-off
These are mid-range positions that are positioned on both the on and off sides to stop straight drives downfield by the batsman.
Silly mid-on and silly mid-off
These positions are directly in line with mid-on and mid-off. But they’re much nearer the batsman.
Long-on and long-off
These are positioned at the boundary and are again designed to stop a straight drive from the batsman.
When the ball makes it past point on the off-side, cover and cover point are there to stop the boundary.
Square leg and mid-wicket
When the ball gets past short leg on the on-side, square leg and mid-wicket are there to stop the boundary.
Everything past the keeper and the slips
If the ball gets nicked past the keeper, it’ll be heading down to either fine leg or deep fine leg. While if it gets past the slips the third man will be charged with stopping the boundary.
Our three favourite cricket facts
It’s always good to be armed with a few bits of trivia when you’re heading of for a day at the cricket. So here are our favourite three.
The score of 111 is considered to be really unlucky. But why is it called a Nelson? It’s based on the famous sailor having just one eye, one arm and one leg. So 1 eye, 1 arm and 1 leg = 111. Despite many-a historian trying to point out that Nelson actually had two legs, the name sticks.
The 1958 test match between England and New Zealand at Headingley saw a professional rugby player and a professional footballer open the batting. Arthur Milton had played one England football match against Austria in 1951, while Mike Smith had picked up one rugby cap against Wales in 1956.
Graham Gooch is the only cricketer to score a triple century and a century in a single first class match. He scored 333 in the first inning and 123 in the second at the Lord’s Test Match in 1990.