For some people when they hear the word "Cricket" they think of a insect that is somewhat related to a grass hopper and makes a terribly loud and irritating sound. This sound is especially irritating when one is woken in the night by its high pitch screeching. I have spent many a night searching the rooms of my home to find one of these menacing creatures that always seem insistent on continuing in their tortuous performance.
For most of us in the Caribbean it is the sport of cricket and for many of us the word conjures up images that beguine in our childhood and stretch throughout our lifetime. For me my first memory of cricket is of my dad standing behind me with his arms over my arms showing me how to correctly hold a cricket bat. My father’s name is Mark Taylor and no not the Australian cricketer Mark Taylor but none the less he was a cricketer. He played for the Wonderers Cricket Club in Barbados as a young man and he had a real love for the game, a love that he tried to pass on to his children. I also have memories of beach cricket games and snapshots of the traditional cricket whites with the bowlers pants stained from the red cricket ball still reside in my brain.
So what exactly is the game of cricket?
To be honest I have drifted quite far away from this beloved Caribbean sport and have decided to invested in a few books to help refresh my memory and to rekindle my interest in the game.
Cricket was being played in England as far back as the 1550’s. The game developed among wealthy land owners who fielded the teams and their workers were the players.
Popularity for the sport spread and had become such a popular spectator sport that in 1787 Thomas Lord (a professional English cricketer) leased a piece of land in Marylebone London and established a private cricket ground in order to keep commoners out. The club moved location several times until it came to rest at its current location named Lords after Thomas Lord. Lords remains the bastion of English cricket to this day.
Although the United States is not known for cricket today it was there that the first international cricket game was played in 1844. It was after the American Civil War that cricket dies off in America and baseball emerged in its place.
The popularity of cricket outside of England can be attributed to English colonization. Wherever the English army had a garrison there was provision made for a cricket pitch.
First class cricket was first played in Barbados in 1865. By 1895 the sport had developed enough in the Caribbean to attract a team from England. So successful was the first tour that no fewer than four English teams came back to the Caribbean within the next ten years. Cricket was seen as having been played at a very high standard in the West Indies by the year 1900.
The first West Indians to travel to England to play cricket was a group of 15 in 1990. Only 5 of the 15 were black men and at that time the Victorian press took the view that “men of color” were incapable of playing such a sophisticated game as cricket with the same patience and intelligence as Anglo-Saxons. It is sad to say but at the turn of the century cricketers were not selected based on ability but on their skin color, social standing, and age. Many historians arge over whether the liberalism and democracy of the colonies paved the way for the liberalism and democracy cricket or the other way around…… Even in a game one can find politics and society play a great role.
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