The English Legacy: Birth of Cricket in India

 . Last updated on 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The English Legacy: Birth of Cricket in India


Cricket had its origins in Europe in the fifteenth century much long before it was parceled to India by the English. Had there been no English regime in India for two centuries, India might have been obscured in the world of Cricket like most other countries today. It is not known why Cricket could not gain popularity in countries like the United States, which is predominantly, a British colony. However, most of the top cricket teams hail from countries that has been under Imperial rules. Well the proposition leaves aside new generation cricket teams like Afghanistan, Nepal, and Netherlands joining the bandwagon.

The first record of cricket being played in India dates back to 1721. It is believed that the game was popular among sailors of merchant ships. Records suggest that cricket matches were played by mariners of the East India Company at Cambay. The matches were dominantly for British, it was just that the game was played on India soil.

Development of cricket was gradual in the country under the colonizers. The first official Cricket Club in the country was set up in 1792. It was established in than Calcutta, under the name of Calcutta Cricket Club. It is believed that it was the second oldest cricket club in the world. In the year, a match was played between the teams of Barrackpore and Dum Dum. The club was exclusive for Europeans while Indians had no roles. Gradually, country Indians also begun to partake at cricket matches. It was five years after Calcutta Cricket Club was established, in 1797, at the match hoisted at Bombay, Indians played "official" cricket for the first time.

The earliest cricket event that has some records is probably the match that was played in Calcutta on January 18 and 19 in 1804. The match was between the Old Etonians, the Alumni of Eton College and the rest of Calcutta. Despite heavy betting in England against the Etonians, the team bagged an overwhelming victory. They scored a total of 232 in the first inning and in the second inning, they paralyzed the opposite Calcutta team by 152 runs. The Calcutta team was taken down only at 80 runs. Robert Vansittrat, the Etonian scored the first century in India notching 102 runs on the match. He was also the top wicket smasher to take 8 wickets in the match.

By the end of 18th century, Indian cricket perceived the raise of Parsees. The Eton players were overtaken by the Parsees, culminating to the formation of Orient Club in 1848. In the year 1877, the Europeans were also overtaken by the Parsees who planned the first international tours from India in the same year. However, the endeavor to play overseas matches was not successful. The Parsees team was led by Dr. D.H. Patel. Their first international tour was to England, which was undertaken in 1886. The tour, however, was disappointing with the team winning only two matches out of 28 matches. After two years, in 1888, another tour was undertaken from India to England. This time, the Parsees team was headed by Pestonji Kanga. The team had considerable improvement on this tour winning eight matches and were able to draw 12 matches. The total number of matches played were 31 where they lost 11 matches. In the tour, India's Mehlasa Parvi took 120 wickets under 12.After the Tour, English cricket teams begun to visit India. In 1889, the first English team visited India to play against various teams. The squad was captained by G.F. Vernon and comprised players like Hawke who has been top cricketers from the country. The team played a total of 13 matches winning 10 out of it. Two matches were draw and they were defeated by the Parsees in the only match against the team. In that match, Parvi was successful to notch down nine wickets alone. In 1892, the English team toured India for the second time. They played a total of 20 matches against different teams. The team again lost to Parsees in two matches.

The year 1895 marked a new era for Indian Cricket with the emergence of Competitive Cricket in the country. The series called Presidency Matches was initiated between European and Parsees. After the series, Indian cricket took shape rapidly with more teams joining and more international tours, primarily to England. Coaches from England were sent to India and many Princely States begun to ante up in cricket.

Thus Indian cricket flourished under the combined patronage of British and the “"Elite" Indians during eighteenth century. By nineteenth century, cricket was established as an official game with breakthroughs like the formation of BCCI, Board of Cricket Control in India in 1928. Gradually, BCCI begun to launch consecutive initiatives like the National Competition between Princes and the Princely States in 1934 that later manifested itself as the Ranji Trophy.

Today, BCCI have grown to such a stature that it is virtually in control of the ICC, International Cricket Council. The Indian team fostered the emergence of players like Sachin Tendulkar, who is renowned as the God of Cricket. The team is home to some of the top players in the community. India is a leading nation to transform cricket for the generation with more classy cricketers on the process of formation. England's cricket has shunned a bit in recent times, while India is taking strides with teams like Australia that have won almost half of all World Cups. Still, India owes an acknowledgement to the English legacy that left many unfading marks on country, of which, cricket is among the most beautiful ones.

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