The origin of cricket is rather obscure. In Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb’s ‘History of Cricket’ they speculate that primeval man may well have played a bat and ball game similar to cricket as a form of hunting practice! But they offer no evidence of this and concede that cricket as we know it was probably first played by shepherds in Kent “as a means of whiling away the time spent watching their flocks on those upland pastures.” The name ‘cricket’ as also of obscure origin, Trevor Bailey in ‘A History of Cricket’ says it derives from an Anglo-Saxon word ‘cricce’ meaning staff or crutch as early cricket may have been played with a staff and got its name that way. Simon Hughes however in ‘And God Created Cricket’ offers the horrifying possibility that cricket may have been invented by the French! The word ‘criquet’ was a word for a stick and ball game introduced into English by the Normans, the French Normans also had the word ‘wiket’ meaning small gate and ‘beil’ crosspiece. Henry Blofeld in ‘Cricket and All That’ maintains a more English version, that cricket originated from the word ‘creag’ that was used to describe a ball game played by Edward I in around 1300. The Wisden Illustrated History of Cricket also refer to ‘creag’ but feel the reference is unreliable and cite a 1598 reference to ‘crickett’ as the first reliable reference – in a legal dispute over land a witness states that he “did play there at crickett and other plaies.”
So the books in the MCC Library don’t quite agree. Andrew did find this nice little four part pictorial history in a newspaper clippings file which I think tells the story rather well.