General Information and Brief History of Cricket

Cricket is a sport founded by England around the 1300s. But, the greatest development of Cricket as an organized sport occurred around the early to late 1600s. There are two versions of cricket that continue to be played today: Test Cricket (or Five-Day Cricket) and One-Day Cricket. Most rules in both versions of cricket are the same. However, while a match could be drawn in Test Cricket, One-Day Cricket produces a result with a definitive winner in virtually all matches. It is important to note that cricket was founded in “England” and not the entire United Kingdom taken together. As such, cricket was/is never widely played or followed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nonetheless, Scotland had picked up the pace and formed a cricketing organization more than a decade ago. Scotland is not among the major major league cricketing nations. A new form of cricket began gaining popularity approximately about the 2005-06 period at the international level called Twenty20 cricket. Twenty20 cricket is the shortest version of cricket, and has gained immense popularity in domestic level cricket, especially with the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008.

A World Cup is often played every four years. World Cup is most obviously composed of One-Day matches and not Test matches. The only major international teams that have never won the World Cup as it stands today are England, New Zealand, South Africa and Bangladesh (hard to call Bangladesh a major team). England has reached the finals of the World Cup on a number of occassions. Although South Africa never reached the finals of the World Cup, it has posed a significant threat to other nations in recent years. At about the 2009-11 period, Australia’s dominence in cricket was shattered and the team never rose up to its glory days of the 1990s and 2000s despite winning the 2015 World Cup. Additionally, cricket in Australia was rocked by a major ball tampering and corruption scandal in March 2018 that further deteriorated Australia’s position in cricket. Post Australia’s fall from glory, India emerged as the most dominant cricketing nation in the world with a level of consistency in batting, bowling, and fielding never before seen in the nation’s history. However, India’s dominence to date has not solidified to a level marked by the dominence of West Indies before the 1990s and Australia during the 1990s and 2000s.

Had it not been for a minor technicality, South Africa would have reached the finals of the 1999 World Cup and succeeded in the finals. Much to their frustration, it did not reach the finals. Australia has won the world cup five times (three consecutively) thus far. It is the only team to achieve such a feat. West Indies and India have won the World Cup twice (consecutively). West Indies won the first two World Cups in Cricket and was the most dominant team between the 1970s and early 1990s in both Test Cricket and One-Day Cricket. The West Indies team was once known for its high quality players, who were among the most feared players in the rest of the world. The cricket dominance of West Indies gained so much popularity and appeal that the governments of the respective countries that the West Indies cricket team represented contemplated unification as a single nation. This plan, however, was called off because of certain reservations expressed by Jamaica. Before 1970 there was no One-Day Cricket and thus no World Cup. West Indies had been one among three dominant teams (the other two were England and Australia) in Test Cricket from the 1930s until the 1990s in Test Cricket. Today, West Indies technically remains a major league nation in Cricket, although its dominence has been severely shattered since the 1990s.

Cricket is not a mixed sport. In other words, male and female players never play together. Until very late into the 1900s, women’s Cricket was almost non-existent. In the last decade or two, women’s Cricket had gained popularity and financial support from sponsors. Men’s Cricket is only played by males. Women’s Cricket is only played by females. There is no mixed version. The last World Cup (Men’s) was played in 2007. The Women’s Cricket World Cup is played seperately and does not coincide with the Men’s Cricket World Cup. There is a definite rise in women’s cricket. However, women’s cricket is plagued with several problems. Among other things, women’s cricket severely lacks the support of financial sponsors, and is often being held back by religious and other cultural groups within the asian nations of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Two out of these three nations are former world cup champions (Pakistan and Sri Lanka). Women’s Cricket in England, West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and India, however, is rising. However, without much support from male and female fans alike and without the help of financial sponsors, it is unreasonable to expect the women’s version of the sport to achieve significant heights of success. Quite notably, even women more closely follow men’s cricket rather than women’s cricket.

Ireland shocked the world in 2007 by entering the super-sixes of its first World Cup. A super-six is a draw of matches right before the semi-finals in the World Cup. There is no quarter-finals in Cricket. Ireland impressed the cricketing world by defeating a number of major teams in important matches. Ireland, Holland and Canada are fast-rising teams in the cricketing world. Zimbabwe was picking up tremendously in the early-mid 1990s and was fast becoming an impressive Cricket team. However, the expanding political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe had completely destroyed the team in the last decade. Many white players of the Zimbabwean team have fled the nation due to fears of political oppression. Black Zimbabwean players who have often protested against the government have also fled the nation due to fears of reprisal from the government leaving the team with players who have had absolutely no experience or very little experience in Cricket.

Kenya is yet another cricket team with its own share of problems. The ICC has often kicked both teams out of the council and removed its recognition of both teams a number of times in the past. The ICC had acted especially tough against Zimbabwe because of the discrimination inherent in Zimbabwe. South Africa had been banned from international cricket throughout the “apartheid” era. However, although ICC had acted tough against Zimbabwe, it had not acted in an equally tough manner. Many countries frequently criticized the ICC in through the mid-to-late 90s and most of the 2000s for its inefficient management and double standards.

The ICC had often voted and acted in favor of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) during the late 90s and much of the 2000s. This is not a mere coincidence as India’s cricketing board was by this time, and is currently the wealthiest cricketing organization in the world. The authorities in charge of the cricket board in India have often been Indian politicians who had been appointed by the government. Corruption has thus been rampant in the Indian cricket board. Nevertheless, India is one of the most dominant cricket teams in the world. Needless to say, however, countries such as New Zealand, Australia and England had often filed several complaints against the Indian cricketing board and criticized the ICC for its favorable treatment of India in the past.

Around 2009 or 2010, and continuing to the present, there have been significant changes in the cricketing world. A new team and its cricket board now became the target of numerous complaints. That team is the founder of cricket – England. England has been fast building a reputation as the world’s most arrogant team, and its cricket board and has come to be viewed with distaste and displeasure. Australia, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand have a bone to pick with England. England players’ behavior and sportsmanship have deteriorated rapidly over the past five-to-six years, and their treatment of their star player Kevin Pietersen has been viewed unfavorably by other countries. Meanwhile, India’s new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, worked hard to rebuild the Indian team’s reputation with the other teams. His calm and composed demeanor and excellent leadership skills transformed the Indian team into both a highly successful one, and one that has come to be respected by the other teams. India won its second world cup under Dhoni’s captaincy in 2011, and has now become the most dominant cricketing force and virtually impossible to defeat on Indian grounds. India’s batting potential is now deep and goes well into the lower order, and India’s fielding has improved tenfold. The days when India relied on the skills of one or two individual batters are long gone. Dhoni has come to be respected both by the players outside of India, and by the coaches and other staff who work with him. During all this time, Australia’s dominance in the cricket world has been shattered as noted before. While Australia is still a strong and capable team, it is no longer “the most” dominant team.

As mentioned earlier, cricket as we know it today developed during the early to mid 1600s. Needless to say, cricket was widely played in colonial America. In places such New York, a good number of Cricket matches were being played and New York had a well established cricket team. Sadly enough, with the U.S. Declaration of Independence, cricket vanished from the U.S. with all due speed. A significantly modified version of cricket currently being played in the U.S., which as we know it today, is Baseball. In defiance of the British, different versions of other English or world sports had also been developed in the U.S. over the next 100 or 150 years: American Football (Rugby in Britain), Ice Hockey (Field Hockey played by the rest of the world). Americans had also created their own dictionary with their own English spellings and pronunciation, often using several variations of pronunciations across the large country. Many Americans often (and unfortunately) take the view that there is no “right way” to speak English. English professors/teachers/scholars often disagree with that view, however. The justification given for creating a new version of English is that Americans needed their own new identity independent from that of Great Britain. Whether or not a country can maintain its independent identity while still retaining its traditional sports, language and culture is beyond the scope of what is intended to be covered here.

Today, a cricket organization does exist in the US. However, most players of the U.S. cricket team are over 37 years of age at the very least. There are very few young skillful players in the team and no native-born American in the team. While the latter is not an issue, getting young skillful players in the team is vitally important. Cricket should also be marketed to native-born Americans to gain popularity at any level. Without having a good young cricket team that produces reasonably good victories, there is no chance of attracting young native-born Americans to the sport. It appeared for a time that USA and its neighbor Canada had reasonably good prospects to establish themselves in cricket over time. But it now appears that this was a delusion. Canada still lags as much behind, as does US. Also, with the unfortunate rise of populism and far right politicians in the US, any hopes of US establishing itself even in Soccer has been shattered. Ireland, and Afghanistan, however, have much better prospects. Ireland has now qualified for three consecutive world cups, while Afghanistan has qualified for two. It is amazing to see Afghanistan achieve such a feat with the limited resources it has. Unfortunately, with the return of Taliban in the country, many expect cricket to die away in Afghanistan.

The cricket teams of Australia, New Zealand, India, England, and South Africa are the most consistent in the world, while Pakistan is the most inconsistent cricket team in the world. West Indies has virtually disappeared as a major cricket force in One-Day and Test cricket, while it has risen in dominance in Twenty20 cricket. West Indies simply does not have enough quality players as they used to and lack the financial resources to bring about good players to the sport; and let us not forget how hard it is to bring four or five countries together as one unified team. They have accomplished a lot with what little they have. Sri Lanka is in danger of losing its status as a major cricket force currently. While Bangladesh has now rightfully claimed its recognition as a major cricketing team, many continue to question its status as a Test playing nation. This is despite Bangladesh creating some spectacular upsets in recent years, and reaching the quarterfinals of the 2015 world cup. On its way there, it defeated England with ease. In the coming years, it is expected that Bangladesh will continue to rise.