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History and Sport: The Story of Cricket – CBSE 9th SST

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Question: What were the changes that were brought by MCC in the 18th century.

Answer: The MCC’s revision of the laws brought in a series of changes in the game that occurred in the second half of the eighteenth century. During the 1760s and 1770s it became common to pitch the ball through the air, rather than roll it along the ground. This change gave bowlers the options of length, deception through the air, plus increased pace. It also opened new possibilities for spin and swing. In response, batsmen had to master timing and shot selection. One immediate result was the replacement of the curved bat with the straight one. All of this raised the premium on skill and reduced the influence of rough ground and brute force. The weight of the ball was limited to between 5½ to 5¾ ounces, and the width of the bat to four inches. The latter ruling followed an innings by a batsman who appeared with a bat as wide as the wicket! In 1774, the first leg-before law was published. Also around this time, a third stump became common. By 1780, three days had become the length of a major match, and this year also saw the creation of the first six-seam cricket ball.

While many important changes occurred during the nineteenth century (the rule about wide balls was applied, the exact circumference of the ball was specified, protective equipment like pads and gloves became available, boundaries were introduced where previously all shots had to be run and, most importantly, overarm bowling became legal) cricket remained a pre-industrial sport that matured during the early phase of the Industrial Revolution, the late eighteenth century.

Question: Cricket both changed with changing times and yet fundamentally remained true to its origins in rural England. Justify the statement.

Answer: Cricket’s most important tools are all made of natural, pre-industrial materials. The bat is made of wood as are the stumps and the bails. The ball is made with leather, twine and cork. Even today both bat and ball are handmade, not industrially manufactured. The material of the bat changed slightly over time. Once it was cut out of a single piece of wood. Now it consists of two pieces, the blade which is made out of the wood of the willow tree and the handle which is made out of cane that became available as European colonialists and trading companies established themselves in Asia. Unlike golf and tennis, cricket has refused to remake its tools with industrial or man-made materials: plastic, fibre glass and metal have been firmly rejected. Australian cricketer Dennis Lillee tried to play an innings with an aluminium bat, only to have it outlawed by the umpires.

But in the matter of protective equipment, cricket has been influenced by technological change. The invention of vulcanized rubber led to the introduction of pads in 1848 and protective gloves soon afterwards, and the modern game would be unimaginable without helmets made out of metal and synthetic lightweight materials.

Question: Write about the organisation of cricket in England.

Answer: The organisation of cricket in England reflected the nature of English society. The rich who could afford to play it for pleasure were called amateurs and the poor who played it for a living were called professionals. The rich were amateurs for two reasons. One, they considered sport a kind of leisure. To play for the pleasure of playing and not for money was an aristocratic value. Two, there was not enough money in the game for the rich to be interested. The wages of professionals were paid by patronage or subscription or gate money. The game was seasonal and did not offer employment the year round. Most professionals worked as miners or in other forms of working class employment in winter, the off-season.

The social superiority of amateurs was built into the customs of cricket. Amateurs were called Gentlemen while professionals had to be content with being described as Players. They even entered the ground from different entrances. Amateurs tended to be batsmen, leaving the energetic, hardworking aspects of the game, like fast bowling, to the professionals. That is partly why the laws of the game always give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman.

Cricket is a batsman’s game because its rules were made to favor ‘Gentlemen’, who did most of the batting. The social superiority of the amateur was also the reason the captain of a cricket team was traditionally a batsman: not because batsmen were naturally better captains but because they were generally Gentlemen. Captains of teams, whether club teams or national sides, were always amateurs. It was not till the 1930s that the English Test team was led by a professional, the Yorkshire batsman, Len Hutton.

Question: ‘Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton’ – Explain this statement.

Answer: This statement means that Britain’s military success was based on the values taught to schoolboys in its public schools. Eton was the most famous of these schools. The English boarding school was the institution that trained English boys for careers in the military, the civil service and the church, the three great institutions of imperial England. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, men like Thomas Arnold, headmaster of the famous Rugby School and founder of the modern public school system, saw team sport like cricket and rugby not just as outdoor play, but as an organised way of teaching English boys the discipline, the importance of hierarchy, the skills, the codes of honor and the leadership qualities that helped them build and run the British empire. Victorian empire builders justified the conquest of other countries as an act of unselfish social service, by which backward peoples were introduced to the civilizing influence of British law and Western knowledge. Cricket helped to confirm this self-image of the English elite by glorifying the amateur ideal, where cricket was played not for victory or profit, but for its own sake, in the spirit of fair play.

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