Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cricket, the national game of England, is an outdoor game played by twenty-two players, eleven a side. The game may be divided into three branches, batting, bowling, and fielding. The batsmen, of whom there are always two in at once, one at each end, have to defend against the bowlers their wickets, which consist of three stumps driven into the ground so that they stand 27 inches above the ground, and placed so that the ball cannot go between them; on the top of the stumps are laid the bails. The bat must not exceed 44. inches in width at the broadest part, and must not be more than 38 inches long; the wickets are pitched opposite to each other with a distance of 22 yards between them. At a distance of four feet from the wicket is marked a popping-crease, within which the batsman is said to be in his ground. The ball, not more than 5-3/4 oz. nor less than 5-1/2 oz. in weight, must measure not less than 9 nor more than 9-1/4 inches in circumference. The batsman scores by means of runs, i.e. if he strikes the ball when bowled to him, and can run to the opposite wicket before the opposing side has time to knock off the bails with the ball, he scores one run. The side which scores the largest number of runs wins. A batsman may be "out" in various ways: (1) He may be bowled, when the bowler breaks through his defence and knocks the balls off his wicket; (2) he may be caught, when any fieldsman catches the ball directly off his bat before it has touched the ground; (3) he may be run out, when he fails to reach the popping-crease after a run before the balls are knocked off; he may be "1. b. w." (leg before wicket) when he interposes his leg between a straight ball and the wicket; he may be "h. w." (hit wicket) when the bowler drives him back so that he knocks off his own balls with his bat; he may be stumped, when both his feet and his bat are beyond the popping-crease and the wicket is put down while the ball is in play. Of batsmen who have earned great reputation in more recent years, W. G. Grace, A. G. Steel, Shrewsbury, Murdoch, Gunn, Ranjitsinhji, and many others might be noted. The bowler delivers the ball with one foot within the bowling-crease (a line drawn on each side of the stumps), and he bowls five balls in succession, at the end of the five balls the bowling commences from the opposite end; each series of five balls is called an "over." The ball must be bowled, and if thrown or jerked is called a "no-ball," which counts as one run to the opposite side ; if the ball falls so as to be, in the judgment of the umpire, beyond the batsmen's reach, it is called a "wide," and counts as one run to the other side. In former years a ball was counted a no-ball if delivered above the bowlers shoulder. Very fast bowling has, of late years, gone somewhat out of fashion, and at the present day, with a few notable exceptions, the best bowlers all adopt a medium pace, tending rather towards slow than fast. Among celebrated bowlers of recent years are Morley, Shaw, Lohmann, Briggs, Attewell, Peate, Spofforth, Richardson, Hearne, and Turner. Of the fieldsmen, whose positions naturally vary according to the character of the bowling or of the batsman, the wicket-keeper demands the first attention; he is always situated directly behind the wicket, which is being defended by the batsman and attacked by the bowler; this position calls for a very quick eye, as a wicket keeper must be on the alert for balls which pass the batsman, both with the view of saving "byes" and stumping. Point is situated on the "off" or right-hand side of the wicket-keeper, frequently "square" with the wicket, i.e. in a straight line with the popping-crease, or sometimes rather behind the wicket. Cover point is generally placed behind point more towards the middle of the field; mid-on is on the opposite side pretty close in, between the two wickets; mid-off occupies a somewhat similar position on the off side but rather farther from the wicket-keeper ; slip is a little way behind the wicket-keeper on the off side; square leg is on the on side, directly in a line with the batsman who receives the ball; third man stands between slip and point; long-off, long-on, long-leg, are simply placed far away from the wickets in the positions indicated. A long-stop (or fieldsman directly behind the wicket-keeper) is now rarely used, owing to the great improvement in wicket-keeping.

When ten men on one side have been got out, that side is said to have completed an innings; no side has more than two innings in a match. There are always two umpires in the field, whose duties are to see that the game is played fairly in every way.

Single wicket, a variety of the game played, as the name implies, with only one wicket, is seldom seen now-a-days.

In England first-class matches are generally limited to three days, and those which cannot be completed within that time are said to be drawn. County cricket has developed to a very large extent within the last few years, and of late the visits of the Australian teams have given an increased interest, if such were indeed wanted, to the national pastime.

The origin of cricket is involved in a certain amount of obscurity, as it is evident that in very early times there existed various games with a bat and ball, but which particular one was the actual parent of cricket of the present day does not seem to be quite so clear. There is no doubt, however, that in Elizabeth's reign cricket as cricket was played by the youth of England. The forms of the bat and the wickets were somewhat different, but in all its main elements the game was the same. In the eighteenth century cricket was very popular, and many references to it have been found in the literature of the period; indeed, at this time one writer (1743) complains that it may be carried too far, that it fosters an undue mixing of the classes with the masses, and "propagates a spirit of idleness." Nyren (b. 1764) published a Cricketers' Guide, and later the famous Lillywhite issued his Handbook of Cricket. It was this Lillywhite who practically introduced the system of round-arm bowling. The Marylebone Cricket Club, generally known as the M.C.C., which was founded about the beginning of the century, has done more to promote the welfare of cricket than any other institution. It is the M.C.C. which has framed and tabulated the laws by which the game is played the whole country through; any disputed point, any reform is brought before the M.C.C. and there dealt with by competent cricketers; moreover, by arranging for the visits of the Australians, by zealously promoting all county cricket, the M.C.C. has conferred a lasting boon upon all true lovers of the game.

There are, probably, few games existing which possess so truly national a character and which excite such universal interest in England as cricket. In the smallest village, in the busiest town, there will be found youthful cricketers who take as keen an interest in the scores of "W. G." as that champion himself, and there are very few Englishmen who do not watch with the greatest anxiety the progress of a match between England and Australia. The encouragement which is given to cricket at our schools and universities doubtless fosters this spirit to a considerable extent, but the love of cricket extends to all classes of Englishmen, and at the present day the writer of 1743 would doubtless have far more cause of complaint against the game for its tendency to unite the different classes of society.