It started as a parish organisation that first achieved prominence in 1756. The club itself was founded in the 1760s and was well patronised to the extent that it was the focal point of the game for about thirty years until the formation of MCC and the opening of Lord’s Cricket Ground in 1787. Hambledon produced several outstanding players including the master batsman John Small and the first great fast bowler Thomas Brett. Their most notable opponent was the Chertsey and Surrey bowler Edward “Lumpy” Stevens, who is believed to have been the main proponent of the flighted delivery.
It was in answer to the flighted, or pitched, delivery that the straight bat was introduced. The old “hockey stick” style of bat was only really effective against the ball being trundled or skimmed along the ground.
The growth of cricket in the mid and late 19th century was assisted by the development of the railway network. For the first time, teams from a long distance apart could play one other without a prohibitively time-consuming journey. Spectators could travel longer distances to matches, increasing the size of crowds.
In 1864, another bowling revolution resulted in the legalisation of overarm and in the same year Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack was first published.
The period from 1890 to the outbreak of the First World War has become an object of nostalgia, ostensibly because the teams played cricket according to “the spirit of the game”, but more realistically because it was a peacetime period that was shattered by the First World War. The era has been called The Golden Age of cricket and it featured numerous great names such as Grace, Wilfred Rhodes, C B Fry, K S Ranjitsinhji and Victor Trumper.
In 1924 the eight ball over was extended to New Zealand and in 1937 to South Africa. In England, the eight ball over was adopted experimentally for the 1939 season; the intention was to continue the experiment in 1940, but first-class cricket was suspended for the Second World War and when it resumed, English cricket reverted to the six ball over. The 1947 Laws of Cricket 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 version of the Laws in 2000 only permits six ball overs.
tarved of top-level competition for its best players, the South African Cricket Board began funding so-called “rebel tours”, offering large sums of money for international players to form teams and tour South Africa. The ICC’s response was to blacklist any rebel players who agreed to tour South Africa, banning them from officially sanctioned international cricket. As players were poorly remunerated during the 1970s, several accepted the offer to tour South Africa, particularly players getting towards the end of their careers for whom a blacklisting would have little effect.
Although many “traditional” cricket fans objected to the shorter form of the game, limited overs cricket did have the advantage of delivering a result to spectators within a single day; it did improve cricket’s appeal to younger or busier people; and it did prove commercially successful.
The first limited overs international match took place at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1971 as a time-filler after a Test match had been abandoned because of heavy rain on the opening days. It was tried simply as an experiment and to give the players some exercise, but turned out to be immensely popular. Limited overs internationals (LOIs or ODIs, after One-day Internationals) have since grown to become a massively popular form of the game, especially for busy people who want to be able to see a whole match. The International Cricket Council reacted to this development by organising the first Cricket World Cup in England in 1975, with all the Test playing nations taking part.
he ICC has expanded its development program with the goal of producing more national teams capable of competing at Test level. Development efforts are focused on African and Asian nations; and on the United States. In 2004, the ICC Intercontinental Cup brought first-class cricket to 12 nations, mostly for the first time.
In June 2001, the ICC introduced a “Test Championship Table” and, in October 2002, a “One-day International Championship Table”. Australia has consistently topped both these tables in the 2000s.