The Evolution of Cricket – From Bat-and-ball to Video Games

The sport cricket is believed to have originated in mediaeval England, primarily as a children’s pastime, with documented evidence of it being played as early as 1550 in Surrey. 

If you’re wondering whether it has something to do with the bug cricket, you’re wrong. 

The insect was first documented in 1325, while the game was noted in a 1598 history of Guildford. It means that the insect claimed the name first. 

The origin of the name “cricket” is uncertain but may be connected to Old English, Old French, or Middle Dutch words referring to sticks, clubs, or the action of striking with a stick. 

Cricket is a part of the “club ball” category of games that involve striking a ball with a handheld implement, similar to baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, and other sports. In cricket, a key distinction is the presence of the wicket, a solid target structure that the batter must protect. 

The theory that cricket was a children’s game is backed by Randle Cotgrave’s 1611 English-French dictionary, which defined “crosse” as “the crooked staff wherewith boys play at cricket.” 

Its origin is unclear but possibly linked to Old English “cryce” or Middle Dutch terms like “krik” or “krikstoel,” which might relate to early cricket equipment or Middle Dutch hockey references. Some suggest cricket, including its name, could have Flemish origins.

Going to the International Stage

Cricket’s history encompasses its first international match in 1844 between club teams from the United States and Canada in Toronto, followed by England’s inaugural overseas tour to North America in 1859. The British Empire played a vital role in globalising cricket, making it popular in various regions.

Significant developments included the birth of Test cricket in 1876–77 during an England-Australia match, giving rise to The Ashes in 1882. The sport continued to expand, with countries like the West Indies, New Zealand, and India joining before World War II, followed by Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland, and Afghanistan. 

The introduction of limited overs cricket in 1963 and the subsequent rise of the Twenty20 format marked new eras. Afghanistan and Ireland joined as ICC full members in 2017.

Having reached a significant level of popularity, new adaptations of the games are showing up. For instance, Gully cricket, an unofficial and informal form of the sport, is popular in Asia, especially in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. It’s played in narrow streets and relies on improvised equipment like homemade bats, tennis balls, and makeshift stumps. 

The rules are flexible and adaptable, allowing for variations in team size, overs, and scoring. The game is primarily won by scoring runs through running and boundaries, with specific rules for fours and sixes. The main modes of dismissal include bowled, caught, and other standard cricket methods, with some variations like “one hand one bounce.”

Silhouette Of Kids Playing Cricket

Cricket in Arts

Cricket has also been a significant source of inspiration in various art forms. It has been celebrated in literature through works by renowned poets such as William Blake and Lord Byron. C. L. R. James’ “Beyond a Boundary” is a highly acclaimed book that explores the sport.

Several renowned paintings have also captured the essence of cricket, offering a unique perspective on the game. Even celebrated artists such as Camille Pissarro and Francis Bacon have contributed to the portrayal of cricket in art.

“Kent vs. Lancashire at Canterbury” by Albert Chevallier Tayler is a notable work that depicts a cricket match, showcasing the vibrancy and excitement of the sport. Another iconic painting, “The Cricketers” by Russell Drysdale, is considered one of the most famous Australian paintings of the 20th century, immortalizing the cultural significance of cricket in Australia. 

Cricket is also no stranger to silver screens and televisions, especially in the United Kingdom and India. UK’s favourite TV show “Doctor Who” once featured the game in its 1982’s “Black Orchid.” Another favourite is Downton Abbey in its episode 3.8 in 2012.

India celebrates its star players with biopics and documentaries like “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story” (2016) and “Sachin – A Billion Dreams” (2017). Of course, we cannot forget the success of the 2008 “Slumdog Millionaire.” Although it doesn’t highlight the game itself, some scenes portray how close the country is to the sport.

In a scene, some kids were shown playing cricket and later being chased by guards for playing on private property. In a pivotal scene, the main character, played by Dev Patel, was asked a question: “Who made the most centuries in first-class cricket?”

These days, art can also mean those in digital forms. For cricket enthusiasts who can’t always make it to the field, there are various cricket-themed online games available for both mobile phones and computers, providing an enjoyable way to experience the sport virtually.

Cricket-inspired Games

Cricket enthusiasts have several thrilling gaming options to choose from. In the world of PC cricket games, two notable titles are “Don Bradman Cricket 12” and “Bran Lars Cricket.” For a quick and fun experience, “EA Cricket 2007” is a popular choice, while “EA Cricket 2011” offers more challenging gameplay.

On the Android platform, some enjoyable cricket games include “Real Cricket 16,” “Stick Cricket,” “World Cricket Championship” by Nextwave, and “Cricket Fever” by Indiagames, providing a variety of options for cricket enthusiasts.

There are even RTP slot games inspired by cricket. The first one is Cricket Star, a Microgaming favourite. This 5-reel slot game offers cricket-themed graphics, including balls, players, umpires, and Scatters for free spins. With free spins, multipliers, scatters, and a wild card, it’s a rewarding gaming experience featuring major cricket teams’ graphics.

Based on the IPL, Premier League Cricket features a cricket stadium backdrop and symbols representing cricket stars. Wild symbols guarantee wins in this 5-reel slot, and a special wild event ensures consistent success.

Meanwhile, World Cricket Battle 2 offers real-time multiplayer cricket action, this game promises dynamic 3D graphics and gameplay. You can engage in World Cricket Championships with a My Career mode and real-time multiplayer against live opponents, ensuring an authentic experience.

For a less complex option, you can try God of Cricket. This is a beginner-friendly 5-reel video slot with a bonus game and a simple autoplay feature. You can earn prizes by collecting scatter symbols, often in the form of free spins.

You can also try a crash game inspired by the sport, “CricketX” by Smartsoft Gaming. With a continuous multiplier, players bet on when to cash out as the multiplier increases over time. The game incorporates a unique “ball spin” feature, where a cricket ball spinning on the screen boosts the multiplier. Players must decide when to cash out to secure their winnings before the game crashes.