The Evolution of the Cricket Bat

In cricket, much like in any sport, the equipment used today looks much different from the way they did when the sport was started at first. This rings true to the balls used back in the day, protection gear, and of course the cricket bat.

The way the bat has developed and evolved is quite interesting, and we’ve reached a point where the bat is designed ergonomically. In this feature piece, we take a closer look at how the bat evolved throughout time.

The When, Where and How

There is quite a bit of uncertainty and dispute as to when and where the first cricket game was played. Some believe the sport started in England, while others claim it started in Flanders or France. It is, however, clear that what is a popular sport today, was a children’s game first.

It is believed that children in rural English towns used to play ‘creckett’ as early as the 16th century. But it is in 1611 where there is the first reference of adults playing the game on a Sunday and being prosecuted for not going to church instead.

The First Equipment Used

As the sport started as a children’s game, the equipment used was not nearly as sophisticated as what we know today. Historians believe that kids used to make makeshift cricket balls using sheep’s wool, stone or wood.

The children would then use a farm tool or stick like a bat, and a gate or stool as the wicket. As the game becomes a popular sport for adults, the more sophisticated the equipment became.

The Oldest Cricket Bat Found

The oldest cricket bat found dates back to 1729. You will be surprised to see that the shape of the bat resembles something that is used in field hockey, rather than in cricket. During this time, underarm bowling was still accepted, which could explain the bat’s shape.

But, more notably, it is also during this time that betting on the sport became fairly common. In fact, during the 18th century English newspapers often reported on cricket bets in England than the sport itself.

Cricket Becomes an International Sport

Cricket was introduced to the rest of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to colonisation and the British East India Company. The sport became popular in colonies in North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

It also reached the West Indies and India during this time. The sport continued to grow in popularity in England, and it is here where the bat underwent significant developments. The hockey stick shape was soon replaced due to flighted delivery of the ball in 1787.

Evolution of the Cricket Bat

As time progressed and batting and bowling techniques evolved, so did the shape and design of the cricket bat. The original shape was replaced with a sturdier and harder design made in most cases of white willow, sporting a thinner look but heavier feel.

The Winning Bats Manufactured in India

Fast forward a couple of years and we have several top-rated bat manufacturers in India. The most prominent of these include several located in Kashmir, where the indigenous willow is used for making the bat.

These bats are of international standards and have been used by many great Indian batsmen. Kashmir bats also require constant ‘knocking’ and ‘oiling’ to ensure the bat is always in tip-top shape and match ready.

And that’s it! Who would’ve thought that the first cricket bats resembled hockey sticks, or that the sport started as a simple child’s game?

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