The earliest definite reference to cricket is dated Monday, 17 January 1597 (i.e., an "Old Style" Julian date which is 1598 by modern reckoning under the Gregorian calendar). It is a deposition in the records of a legal case at Guildford, Surrey, re the use of a parcel of land c.1550 and John Derrick, a coroner, testified that he had at that time played cricket on the land when he was a boy.

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  • The history of cricket to 1725 traces the sport's development from its perceived origins to the stage where it had become a major sport in England and had been introduced to other countries.The earliest definite reference to cricket occurs in 1598 and makes clear that the sport was being played c. 1550, but its true origin is a mystery. All that can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that its beginning was earlier than 1550, somewhere in south-east England within the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Unlike other games with batsmen, bowlers and fielders, such as stoolball and rounders, cricket can only be played on relatively short grass, especially as the ball was delivered along the ground until the 1760s. Therefore, forest clearings and land where sheep had grazed would have been suitable places to play.The sparse information available about cricket's early years suggests that it was originally a children's game. Then, at the beginning of the 17th century, it was taken up by working men. During the reign of Charles I, the gentry took an increased interest as patrons and occasionally as players. A big attraction for them was the opportunity that the game offered for gambling and this escalated in the years following the Restoration. By the time of the Hanoverian succession, investment in cricket had created professional players and first-class clubs, thus establishing the sport as a popular social activity in London and the south of England. Meanwhile, English colonists had introduced cricket to North America and the West Indies, and the sailors and traders of the East India Company had taken it to the Indian subcontinent. (en)
  • The earliest definite reference to cricket is dated Monday, 17 January 1597 (i.e., an "Old Style" Julian date which is 1598 by modern reckoning under the Gregorian calendar). It is a deposition in the records of a legal case at Guildford, Surrey, re the use of a parcel of land c.1550 and John Derrick, a coroner, testified that he had at that time played cricket on the land when he was a boy. Derrick's testimony makes clear that the sport was being played c.1550, but its true origin is a mystery. All that can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that its beginning was earlier than 1550, somewhere in south-east England within the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Unlike other games with batsmen, bowlers and fielders, such as stoolball and rounders, cricket can only be played on relatively short grass, especially as the ball was delivered along the ground until the 1760s. Therefore, forest clearings and land where sheep had grazed would have been suitable places to play.Although nothing is known of a "cricket season" per se in 1598, cricket was being played in the south-east of England at the time and so 1598 was the first season, as such, since the sport's earliest known reference. The sparse information available about the early years suggests that it may have been a children's game in the 16th century but, by 1611, it had become an adult pastime. The earliest known organised match was played in 1611, a year in which other significant references to the sport are dated. From 1611 to 1725, fewer than thirty matches are known to have been organised between recognised teams. Similarly, only a limited number of players, teams and venues of the period have been recorded. The earliest matches played by English parish teams are examples of village cricket. Although village matches are now considered minor in status, the early matches are significant in cricket's history simply because they are known. There were no newspaper reports of matches until the end of the seventeenth century and so the primary sources are court records and private diaries, hence games were rarely recorded.During the reign of Charles I, the gentry took an increased interest as patrons and occasionally as players. A big attraction for them was the opportunity that the game offered for gambling and this escalated in the years following the Restoration when cricket in London and the south-eastern counties of England evolved into a popular social activity. Its patrons staged lucrative eleven-a-side matches featuring the earliest professional players. Meanwhile, English colonists had introduced cricket to North America and the West Indies, and the sailors and traders of the East India Company had taken it to the Indian subcontinent.In the first quarter of the 18th century, more information about cricket became available as the growing newspaper industry took an interest. The sport noticeably began to spread throughout England as the century went on. By 1725, significant patrons such as Edwin Stead, Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Sir William Gage were forming teams of county strength in Kent and Sussex. The earliest known great players, including William Bedle and Thomas Waymark, were active. Cricket was attracting large, vociferous crowds and the matches were social occasions at which gambling and alcoholic drinks were additional attractions. (en)
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  • The earliest definite reference to cricket is dated Monday, 17 January 1597 (i.e., an "Old Style" Julian date which is 1598 by modern reckoning under the Gregorian calendar). It is a deposition in the records of a legal case at Guildford, Surrey, re the use of a parcel of land c.1550 and John Derrick, a coroner, testified that he had at that time played cricket on the land when he was a boy. (en)
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  • History of cricket to 1725 (en)
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