Derivation of the name of “cricket”
iul 10, 2010
A number of words are thought to be possible sources for the term “cricket”. In the earliest known reference to the sport in 1598 (see below), it is called creckett. The name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch krick(-e), meaning a stick; or the Old English cricc or cryce meaning a crutch or staff. Another possible source is the Middle Dutch word krickstoel, meaning a long low stool used for kneeling in church and which resembled the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket.
According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, “cricket” derives from the Middle Dutch met de (krik ket)sen (i.e., “with the stick chase”), which also suggests a Dutch connection in the game’s origin. It is more likely that the terminology of cricket was based on words in use in south east England at the time and, given trade connections with the County of Flanders, especially in the 15th century when it belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, many Middle Dutch words found their way into southern English dialects.
First definite reference
Despite many prior suggested references, the first definite reference to the game is found in a 1598 court case concerning dispute over a school’s ownership of a plot of land. A 59-year old coroner, John Derrick, testified that he and his school friends had played creckett on the site fifty years earlier. The school was the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, and Mr Derrick’s account proves beyond reasonable doubt that the game was being played in Surrey c.1550.
The first reference to it being played as an adult sport was in 1611, when two men in Sussex were prosecuted for playing cricket on Sunday instead of going to church. In the same year, a dictionary defines cricket as a boys’ game and this suggests that adult participation was a recent development.