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History of the 'Glorious Game'
There is evidence that a form of cricket was played in England more than five hundred years ago. Two early versions of the game are recorded. One was called 'club ball' and the other 'stool ball.'

In the game of club ball, there was a batsman, a bowler and fielders. The ball was covered with leather. The batsman used a stick or pole to hit the ball, but there was no wicket to defend.

In stool ball, a milking stool and in some cases a tree 'stump' was used as a wicket. The bowler tried to hit the stool or 'stump' with the ball and the batsman tried to stop him. The man who was defending the stool did not have a bat, using only a bare hand. The batsman did not score 'runs' in the conventional way, but every time he defended his stool against a delivery, he scored one point. The batsman was 'out' if the ball hit the stool, or if the ball was caugh by a fieldsman after the batsman had hit it. It was many years before the batsman used a stick, instead of his hand, to defend the stool (now using a hand to defend the wicket results in dismissal).

Later, sticks began to be used for wickets. There were two wickets about twenty-two yards apart. Each one was made of three sticks. Two sticks were stuck upright in the ground with a third stick across the top. The story goes that shepherds playing a form of the game used a wicket gate from one of their sheep pens and used it as a wicket.

As more cricket began to be played the batting stick evolved into a more effective carved bat, a new atheltic dimension was added to the game with the taking of 'runs'by running between the two wickets.

As cricket evolved so the rules became more sophisticated and some of its modern features appeared. One such change was the creation of the 'popping crease.' Originally, a hole was cut in the ground, between the two upright sticks of the wicket. The batsman had to put his bat in this hole at the end of every run. The batsman was 'run out' if the wicket keeper put (or popped) the ball into this popping hole, before the batsman got his bat into it. Obviously, this was very dangerous for the wicket keeper. The popping hole was replaced, first by a stick held by the umpire and later by a line scored in the turf in front of the stumps.

The removal of the popping hole also allowed an extra stump to be added to the wicket.

As cricket became a popular game in England, many cricket clubs were formed. Hambledon Cricket Club, which started in the year 1750, became the most famous of all. Shaftesbury Cricket Club is recorded as early as 1850 and it is probably that the game was played in some form before that.

At the Hambledon Club, the rules of cricket were written down and clubs all over the country agreed to them. Different ways of bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping were tried out.

At this time scores were kept using the old traditional tally system, four horizontal marks, or scores and a diagonal strike to donote a group of five. Hence the term scores and scorer.

In its earliest form, the bowler always sent the ball to the batsman with a under-arm throw. About one hundred and fifty years ago, a young lady was trying to bowl for her brother. She wore a crinoline dress with a long, full hooped skirt. This prevented her from bowling under-arm and she proceeded to swing her arm backwards and upwards, to throw the ball from above her head.

In under- arm bowling the ball travelled along the ground. To counter this, the bat was wider at the bottom than at the top and sometimes curved like a hockey stick.

Over-arm bowling made the ball bounce in front of the batsman and a straight bat was created. The early rules did not say how wide the bat should be. But this was quickly established at 4 1/2" when during one match a batsman used a bat the width of the wicket!

At first, cricket was played mostly by country people. Later, gentlemen in London began to play and many cricket clubs were formed there.

The most famous London club was near Marylebone Road. It was established by Thomas Lord and was called Marylebone Cricket Club. Now it is so well known that people hardly ever use its proper name. It is just spoken of as M.C.C. and the ground as 'Lords.' Twice the club moved to new grounds. Each time, Thomas Lord arranged for the turf to be dug up and moved.

In the early days of cricket, the players did not wear special clothes for the game. They just took off their jackets. Men who wore top hats, kept them on while they were playing. Sometimes a player used his top hat to catch the ball. However, this was eventually outlawed and five extra runs were given to the other team if this happened during a game (as happens now if a ball strikes a helmet placed behind the wicket keeper).

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