Cricket was not English, research reveals

March 1st, 2009 - 10:57 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 1 (IANS) Cricket quintessentially is considered an English passtime, but a recent Australian research has revealed that the game was imported to the British Isles by immigrants from North Europe.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Australian professor Paul Campbell, in the department of English and theatre at the Australian National University, in Canberra, discovered a reference to cricket in a 1533 poem, written by John Skelton, a popular poet and playwright of the day. Skelton in his poem linked cricket to immigrants from Flanders, in modern day Belgium, France and Holland.

Campbell’s claim challenges the traditional theory that the sport evolved from children’s games played in England since Anglo-Saxon times. And to add more salt to the injury, the evidence was unearthed by an Australian - considered traditional cricketing rivals of England.

The daily said that in the work, “The Image of Ipocrisie” - which is diatribe against parts of the Church - Skelton also appears to rail against the Flemish weavers who settled in southern and eastern England from the 14th century, labelling them dismissively as “kings of crekettes”.

The poem claimed that weavers brought the game over with them and played it on fields close to where they tended their sheep, using shepherd’s crooks - or curved sticks - as bats to strike a ball. Campbell unearthed it after searching through a series of historical archives, in which he looked for variations of the early ways in which the word cricket was spelt.

Campbell was guided by German academic Heiner Gillmeister, professor in the department of English at the University of Bonn, who helped the Australian in establishing the fact that crekettes has its linguistic origins in Flemish.

“The discovery of this poem is very intriguing. It could be the earliest known reference to the game which we know as cricket. My studies have shown that weavers from Flanders first settled in rural areas around Kent and Surrey and it was here that the English game of cricket we know today originated,” Gillmeister was quoted as saying by the daily.

“Of course there is something quite ironic about a German and an Australian making discoveries about what is considered to be such an English game, and in reality that game being a foreign import,” he said.

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