How early cricket survived opposition, censorship to become one of the world’s most popular sports
LONDON: There was not a single moment when my passion for cricket suddenly developed. It happened slowly, almost like the game itself. I do recall enjoying playing in a chaotic manner during break times at primary school, using wickets painted onto a wall, a tennis ball and a borrowed bat. After school, we played in the lanes behind the closely terraced houses of a coal mining community in the English Midlands, using dustbins as wickets and pieces of wood to hit the ball.
It never occurred to me to ask why a wicket was so called, why it had three stumps, why the bat was shaped the way that it was, or why a proper cricket ball was so hard. I was also unaware that the origins of cricket were obscure or, indeed, that it had a history at all.
Those questions only arose when I was taken, aged nine, for the first time to a professional cricket match at a famous ground in the English city of Nottingham. It was full of people and the spectacle was exhilarating. It was so different to my experience of playing in back yards. Little did I know that the origins of cricket were more akin to my early playing environment than to the spectacle I had just witnessed.
Cricket’s origins have been poorly represented in historical records. There is a common assumption that the game originated in England, through references to stick and stone games with some resemblance to cricket being played as early as 1183. The household accounts of King Edward I in 1300 report of a game much like cricket being played in the county of Kent.
It was the sheep-grazing lands of south-eastern England that provided short grass on which balls of rags or wool could be rolled. The wicket gate (a small gate or door within a larger one) was used as a target, which was defended by a person who wielded a stick similar to a shepherd’s crook.
This idyllic, pastoral, image is a seductive one with which to associate the game’s beginnings in England. It certainly worked on me, serving to increase my appetite to play and understand the game. These romantic undertones are enhanced by the words derived to name the tools needed to play – wicket, stump, bat, bail, (or beil), a French word for a cross piece on the wicket gate, whilst mystique surrounds the way in which the game got its name. I discovered one view that it derives from an old English word for cryce or crutch and a Dutch word, rick, meaning stick, thus suggesting the involvement of merchants from the near European continent.
In my search to learn more, I was disappointed to discover that, if the game was being played between the 12th and 16th centuries, it received almost no references in literature or contemporary records. Those that have been identified were oblique ones, such as reports in a court case in 1598 of cricket being played by pupils of the Royal Grammar School in Guildford in 1550 and, in 1611, two young men were punished in court for playing cricket instead of going to church. I know that feeling, given I skipped piano lessons in favor of playing cricket until found out and suitably admonished for wasting my parent’s money.
The first conclusive records for a game recognisable as cricket emerged in 1646 in Kent for no clear reason that I can find. The match was played for a small wager, curiously of 12 candles. The post-English Civil War government was keen to stamp out public gatherings, drunkenness and gambling, so the holding of the match may have been an act of insolence or rebellion. Perhaps the participants thought the government’s ban was not worth a candle.
Cricket’s apparent lack of popularity may have been influenced by other preferred opportunities for gambling, such as bear baiting, wrestling, racing, or cock fighting. Additionally, it suffered from governmental press and print censorship, designed to prevent opportunities for sedition.
Once this was lifted in 1696, cricket began to flourish. It attracted the attention of the aristocracy, for whom it provided a new vehicle for heavy gambling. When I read about this, as a boy, I was appalled that this seemingly well-mannered game could be tarnished in this way. There was a silver lining in that it created the imperative for codified conditions under which the matches should be played.
The development of the game as it is played today began to be shaped in 18th century England. Its subsequent journey has taken it far beyond its supposedly rustic origins in the south of England to many parts of the world, some of them unexpected, a subject for another piece. Cricket abounds with stories, fierce rivalries and myths. It also has deep, but discreet, strategic aspects, which have served only to increase my fascination with the game over many years.
Covid-19: Sydney cases ease amid strict lockdown rules
The military was summoned to help enforce restrictions in Australia’s largest city. Sydney on Friday reported a slight easing in locally acquired cases of Covid-19 amid a further tightening of restrictions in the worst-affected suburbs, with the military summoned to help enforce lockdown rules. Millions in Australia’s largest city began one of the country’s harshest…
The military was summoned to help enforce restrictions in Australia’s largest city.
Sydney on Friday reported a slight easing in locally acquired cases of Covid-19 amid a further tightening of restrictions in the worst-affected suburbs, with the military summoned to help enforce lockdown rules.
Millions in Australia’s largest city began one of the country’s harshest lockdowns since the pandemic started, after nearly five weeks of increasingly tough restrictions failed to quell an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.
Although cases dipped for the first time in nearly a week, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned cases could again rise due to the growing number of people positive with the Delta strain moving around in the community.
“We are expecting to see those numbers bounce around,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
New South Wales reported 170 new local cases, most of them in the state capital Sydney, down from a record high of 239 set a day earlier. Of the new cases, 42 spent time in the community while infectious and 53 remained under investigation.
Berejiklian also implored people to avoid attending an anti-lockdown protest planned for Saturday in Sydney, warning they may be giving their loved ones “a death sentence”.
Thousands of people joined an anti-lockdown protest in the city last weekend, drawing condemnation from police and politicians who labelled it a potential “superspreader” event.
As the city of five million heads into its sixth week of an extended lockdown, due to run until Aug. 28, the tougher new rules will affect eight local council areas, where most new infections have been reported.
More than two million people must stay within 5 km (3 miles) of their homes and have to wear masks when they step outside.
Police have been given sweeping new powers to close businesses flouting rules, while the military will begin assisting police with ensuring compliance with restrictions from Monday.
Members of the military, who won’t be armed and will be under the command of the state’s police, will undergo training this weekend.
New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller used the case of a worker who allegedly attended his worksite after knowing he had tested positive to defend the tougher rules.
“That sort of behaviour is exactly why we need strong health orders, law enforcement,” Fuller said.
Officials are increasingly concerned about the strain on healthcare systems with hospitalisations and deaths expected to rise from the fast-moving Delta variant.
A total of 187 cases are in hospital, with 58 in intensive care, 24 of whom require ventilation. Thirteen deaths have been recorded so far in the latest outbreak.
Later on Friday, the country’s national cabinet – the group of national and state leaders – will meet to discuss the country’s exit strategies from the pandemic.
Australia has handled the coronavirus crisis much better than many other developed countries, with just over 34,000 cases and 923 deaths, but has been among the lowest in administering vaccines.
With about 18% of people aged over 16 fully vaccinated, Australia’s immunisation drive hit several roadblocks due to changing medical advice for AstraZeneca doses over blood clot concerns and supply constraints for Pfizer shots.
Queensland state, meanwhile, is on alert after a 17-year-old school student contracted the virus, baffling officials.
“(This) is quite concerning because I’m struggling to understand how she has acquired it,” state Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young told reporters.
German official sent home for racist slur at Olympics against Algerian athlete
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UAE’s artist community honours frontline heroes in ‘fashion show’
Doctors, nurses and support staff of Thumbay University Hospital walk the ramp at tribute event. The ‘models’ were confident enough as they sashayed down the ramp with elan. The cameras and mobile phones were on high-drive, as they went all click-a-click. Loud cheers followed soon. A typical fashion show? Nah! This was a show with…
Doctors, nurses and support staff of Thumbay University Hospital walk the ramp at tribute event.
The ‘models’ were confident enough as they sashayed down the ramp with elan. The cameras and mobile phones were on high-drive, as they went all click-a-click.
Loud cheers followed soon.
A typical fashion show? Nah!
This was a show with a difference — a big, big difference.
The ‘models’ strutting their stuff on the ramp were none other that our angels in white, who took their spot in the sun, coated in designer white coats.
And the venue for this ‘fashion show’ was a university — the Gulf Medical University in Ajman — to be precise.
Gulf Medical University in partnership with DCOM designs, Root Square, and the PaintBrush Art Community organised a fashion show where healthcare specialists swapped their stethoscopes for designer white coats and posed as models for the Walking Art event. The show was conceived as a tribute by the artist community to the UAE’s frontline heroes who have helped the UAE fight the pandemic.
Hossam Hamdy, the Chancellor of Gulf Medical University, was the chief guest along with Dr Bu Abdullah, chairman of the Bu Abdullah Group. Uttam Chand, Consul (visa and community affairs) at the Consulate General of India, was the guest of honour.
Hamdy said: “This is a historic event and a tribute from the UAE, the Gulf Medical University, and the team, to the healthcare heroes of the world, and we are very proud to host it.
“Today our superheroes don’t wear capes, they wear white coats” he added.
Gulf Medical University alumni Dr Ramita Bhargava, who along with Dr Afrah, Dr Kajal and Dr Sandra, staged the opening act at the show, said: “It was a great honour for me to conceptualise and manage the event in tribute and appreciation for the frontline force during the pandemic.”
Doctors, nurses and support staff of Thumbay University Hospital were on the ramp and the 27 white coats worn by the ‘models’ were hand-painted, embroidered, and sketched by many Dubai artists.
Students of the Gulf Medical University were also part of the fashion show. Mohammed Omar, a Pakistani student said: “It was a great honor to walk for the show. The medical fraternity left no stone unturned to fight the disease during the pandemic. This shows that people who wear white coats are superheroes,” he added.