Cricket in 18th Century
With the increase of popularity of cricket among gamblers during the Restoration period in 1960, teams were formed by people who were willing to build up their stakes and county teams came into existence. The sport moved out from the lower section of the society and got associated with businessmen and aristocrats who were willing to own and spend on these teams. With influential bureaucrats like the Second Duke of Richmond and Seventh Baronet etc, the press began covering the sport regularly.
Spread of Cricket
Cricket began its journey outside England in the 17th Century through the British Army who introduced the sport in the English Colonies in North America. In the 18th Century cricket spread to countries like West Indies, India and Australia. In the 19th Century it reached New Zealand and South Africa. Meanwhile cricket continued to grow in England with London and Dartford emerging as famous clubs at the beginning of the 18th century. The Slindon club from Sussex was another upcoming club which was aided by the Duke of Richmond. Other major clubs included Maidenhead, Maidstone, Hornchurch, Bromley, Sevenoaks, Addington, Chertsey, Hadlow and Hambledon clubs.
Changes in Cricket
Laws & Rules
The fundamental rules of cricket such as the wicket, bat & ball, overs, out etc are believed to have continued in the same format from the beginning even though there were no written references stating the same. The “Articles of Agreement” was drafted by Alan Brodick and the Duke of Richmond in 1728 in an effort to standardize the method of playing. The Laws of Cricket came into effect in 1744 which were later modified in 1774 with additions like middle stump, maximum bat width and leg before wicket rules. The laws were drafted by the Star and Garter club who went on to form the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1787 at the Lord’s. The Marylebone Cricket Club also became the curators of the Laws and was authorized to make revisions and additions to the laws.
The initial stages of cricket saw the cricket ball being rolled along the ground with an underarm bowling action. However, this format of bowling was discontinued after 1760 and the bowlers needed to pitch the ball using a round arm action which helped create a bounce and thus the bowler could vary the pace, line and length of the ball. The round-arm action, faced challenges and it was soon decided that the ball needs to be bowled with a fully raised arm action which ensured better pace, accuracy and control.
The initial cricket bats were shaped more like hockey sticks with an elongated “L” like bottom until the 18th century. However with the modifications in the bowling style, where as opposed to a rolling ball batsman had to face bouncing and flighted balls, the cricket bats met a straighter makeover to look like the modern day bats.
The Balls per over trial
With the changing trends in bowling action the balls bowled per over also was experimented with. Until 1889 the balls bowled over were four which was modified to five balls per over and later to 6 balls per over in 1900. In 1922, Australia with some other countries tried 8 balls per over with New Zealand and South Africa joining in the trend in 1924 and 1937 respectively. However after the Second World War, cricket resumed with the six balls per over format. The 2000 version of cricket laws deemed 6 balls per over.