SOCIAL HISTORY – FASCINATING FILM ABOUT CRICKET AT LORD’S – Sir Ralph Richardson narrates…
This fascinating film of England v Australia at Lord’s, narrated by John Arlott and Sir Ralph Richardson, introduces the viewer “to a very revered patch of English turf, plumb in line with the Pavilion” and guides us through the game.
It features footage of Bradman, Compton, Hutton, and Dexter, as well as a spin-bowling master-class from Bert Rhodes who pitches balls that Graeme Swann would be proud of.
Beautifully shot, the film is an incredible tribute to a game that “began in quiet places, and lives on in quiet places, deep in the hearts of those who love it”.
This film is part of a collection of films from the British Council’s archive, now released online to the public for the first time.
A history of Lord’s Cricket Ground
Lord’s is widely referred to as the ‘Home of Cricket’ and is home to the world’s oldest sporting museum. It is named after its founder Thomas lord, and owned by Marlebone Cricket Club (MCC).
From then to now
The second, commonly known as Lord’s Middle Ground, was only used from 1811 to 1813 before being abandoned to make way for the construction of Regent’s Canal.
Lord’s then moved to a new rural ground – previously the site of a duck pond – in St John’s Wood in 1814. This current Lord’s cricket ground, as we know it today, is about 250 yards north west of the old Middle Ground site.
The ground became a huge success and attracted crowds of players and spectators. Thomas Lord built a Pavilion to house the growing numbers and refreshment stalls to cater to their needs.
In 1805, the gentry were keen to see their sons play cricket and so hired the ground for an Eton versus Harrow schools cricket match and thus a world-famous, on-going tradition was born.
In 1825, when Thomas Lord was 70, he sold the ground to a Bank of England director, William Ward, for £5,000. Having provided the Marylebone Cricket Club with a ground for 38 years, Lord retired and then died seven years later – but his name lives on.
That year, the Pavilion was destroyed in a fire along with irreplaceable scorecards, records and trophies. However, work began immediately on a new one, which opened the following year.
History of Cricket
It seems clear that the English game originated in the sheep-rearing country of the South East, where the short grass of the downland pastures made it possible to bowl a ball of wool or rags at a target. That target was usually the wicket-gate of the sheep pasture, which was defended with a bat in the form of a shepherd’s crooked staff.
By the 17th century the game was quite popular as a rough rural pastime, but in the following century the leisure classes took up the sport, particularly in Sussex, Kent, and London. We know that an organized match was held at the Artillery Grounds, Finsbury, London, in 1730. By the middle of the 18th century cricket was being played at every level of society, from village greens to wealthy estates. However, the game lacked a coherent set of rules.
The first and most influential cricket club in the land was formed at Hambledon, Hampshire, in the 1760’s. The club was sponsored by wealthy patrons, but the players were local tradesmen and farmers. The Hambledon club established techniques of batting and bowling which still hold today, and Hambledon claims a page in history books as the “Birthplace of Cricket”.
The centre of power in the game soon shifted to London, most notably with the establishment of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which had its headquarters at Lord’s ground. In 1835 the MCC gave cricket its first formal laws, which still stand largely intact today.
A major boost for the sport of cricket was provided by public schools such as Eton, Harrow, and Winchester. The sport proved so popular among the well-to-do students that an annual match called “Gentlemen vs. Players” took place at Lord’s from 1806-1963. The amateur “Gentlemen” from the schools and universities played their semi-professional counterparts; the “Players” in a match that was a highlight of the season.
Major cricket matches can last as long as 5 days, with each side having two “innings”, or turns at bat. A recent alternative to the longer matches are “limited over” matches. These events may take a relatively short 3-5 hours during the course of one day.
The game of cricket is now played worldwide, and despite occasional successes, it is fair to say that the real power in the game has shifted from England to nations such as South Africa, Australia, India, Pakistan, and the West Indies.
In England the major focus of the game is the county championships, with both four-day and one-day competitions running simultaneously during the summer months. But traditional village cricket is still played in towns and villages all across the UK.