Cricket

Cricket can be traced back to Tudor times in early 16th-century England. Written evidence exists of a game known as Creag being played by Prince Edward, the son of Edward I Longshanks at Newenden, Kent in 1301 and there has been speculation that this was a form of cricket. The earliest written evidence of the game of cricket may date back to France in a letter written to King Louis XI in 1478 by a man named Estiavannet. He described a game being played by the villagers of Liettres involving boules and croquet a wooden post. The earliest definite reference to cricket being played dates back to evidence given at a 1598 court case which mentions that creckett was played on common land in Guildford, Surrey, around 1550. It is believed that it was originally a children's game but references around 1610 indicate that adults had started playing it and the earliest reference to inter-parish or village cricket occurs soon afterwards. During the 17th century, numerous references indicate the growth of cricket in the south-east of England. By the end of the century, it had become an organised activity being played for high stakes and it is believed that the first professionals appeared in the years following the Restoration in 1660. A newspaper report survives of a great cricket match with eleven players a side that was played for high stakes in Sussex in 1697, and this is the earliest known reference to a cricket match of such importance. The game underwent major development in the 18th century and became the national sport of England. Betting played a major part in that development with rich patrons forming their own select XIs. Cricket was prominent in London as early as 1707 and large crowds flocked to matches on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury. The single wicket form of the sport attracted huge crowds and wagers to match. In the 1730s Frederick Prince of Wales played a major role in developing the sport. Bowling evolved around 1760 when bowlers began to pitch the ball instead of rolling or skimming it towards the batsman. This caused a revolution in bat design because, to deal with the bouncing ball, it was necessary to introduce the modern straight bat in place of the old hockey stick shape.
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