8 Facts about Cricket
If you’re not from the Commonwealth, then there are facts that you probably never knew about cricket as a sport. Cricket is a game played between two teams of 11 players each, and consists of a bat-and-ball style of play that has some similarities to American baseball, but it has a radically different set of rules. In fact, cricket is considered to be the early ancestor of modern baseball as it was first played in the 16th century in England. Cricket’s expansion over the world followed the growth of the British Empire, so there are many leagues and organizations that play the game in India, Australia, the West Indies and South Africa today. Let’s look at 8 facts that you probably never knew about cricket:
The equipment used in cricket consists of a bat made from a willow wood blade and a cane handle. The bats weigh about 2 to 3 pounds and must be no longer than 38 inches. The person who swings a bat is referred to as a ‘batsman’ and never a ‘batter.’ The small gate set up behind the batsman is called a ‘wicket’ and it is made of several parts of three ‘stumps’ on which rests two ‘bails.’ The ball used in the sport is made from leather, weighs about 5½ ounces, and it can be ‘bowled’ at velocities of upwards of 90 miles an hour.
An international match in cricket is called a ‘Test Match’ which consists of a single match that can last up to 5 days. The word ‘Test’ comes from the suggestion that to endure such a lengthy contest is quite the test. It is the long form of the game that dates back to the 1870s and was the primary and traditional way for the game to be played. It is a much slower pace with each team playing two innings each. the test matches are eagerly awaited events, particularly the Ashes series between England and Australia..
Twenty20 style of playing cricket was introduced in 2003. It consists of two teams playing each other with just one innings of 20 overs each (an over is a seris of 6 balls from one bowler at one end). I won’t go into the details of the rules too much in this article, but suffice it to say, these changes created a much shorter game. The result was that a Twenty20 cricket match can be played in about a 3 to 4 hour window, which is more in line with other professional sports. This new style of play created a resurgence of interest in cricket internationally and brought new audiences to the sport.
Believe it or not, cricket was a popular sport in America from 1834 to 1914, and there were clubs formed in over 46 states. The first intercollegiate tournament in America was a cricket tournament. The first international cricket game played in America was held at Bloomingdale Park in New York in 1844, and was played between the US and Canada. The game was so popular that between 10,000 and 20,000 spectators attended. It is reported that over $120,000 in bets were placed on that single game. Philadelphia used to be the hub of cricket in America, and several U.S. teams toured England in tournaments in between 1897-1908. The sport suffered a rapid decline in the early 1900s, and never returned to popularity.
The Ashes is the longest continual and oldest rivalry in the game, and it has been an ongoing almost uninterrupted annual/bi-annual competition between Australia and England since 1882. The contest consists of several test matches played over a period of a few weeks, and it gets its name from the urn the two teams play for. Apparently the story goes that a group of women burned a pair of bails (which are the small sticks placed on the stumps to form a wicket in the game) mourning the death of English cricket after a defeat by Australia, and placed the ashes in the urn.
The longest match in the history of cricket took place in 1939 in South Africa between the South African team and a team from England. The teams took part in a single match that lasted 10 days, and it had end unfinished because the English team needed to catch their ship home. It was declared a draw.
The highest paid player in cricket at this time is Mahendra Singh Dhoni who plays for the Chennai Super Kings in India. He has sponsorships with Reebok, GE Money and Pepsi. This past year he made over 8 million in endorsements. If you want to draw a comparison to professional sports figures in the USA, he made more in endorsements last year than Alex Rodriquez, Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols combined.
Attendance at the annual Ashes Match hit a record mark of 91,092 attendees in December of 2013. Over the course of the 5 day tournament, 271,865 people were in attendance with an average of 67,966 per match. The Cricket World Cup in 2011 covering over 49 games drew a record 1.2 million fans to the event. Due to cricket’s international attendance, it is largely regarded as the #2 most popular sporting event in the world behind soccer.
Cricket has a special following, and is has become a huge money machine in India and Australia with the rise of the Twenty20 style of play. Individual player and team sponsorships rival baseball and soccer, and there is a multitude of tournaments held around the world. Organized cricket has a bid in progress to have the Twenty20 style of the game included in the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo, Japan. Could we even see a resurrection of the sport in America in the next few decades? Time will tell…