Cricket's coming home?

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 7:56 PM

Cricket's coming home?
The Belgium T20 team
While Lord's Cricket Ground has staked a claim to being the 'Home of Cricket', it could be argued that cricket will be returning to its original home this week when the ICC European Division 2 event takes place in Belgium.

The 11-team tournament, featuring the likes of Austria, Belgium, Spain and Sweden, is part of the ICC World Twenty20 qualification pathway and will see the top two sides promoted to Division 1. The leading two sides at this event will make it the ICC World Twenty20 global qualifier in 2012, from which the top six sides will make it through to the event in Sri Lanka.

But one professor at the University of Bonn believes that the tournament will be played in a country where cricket first began.

"I began to investigate the origins of cricket when, in my capacity as linguist at the English department of the University of Bonn, I tried to reveal the origins of European competitive ball games on the basis of a linguistic analysis of the terms being used by the players," said Dr Heiner Gillmeister.

"Since there existed no written record of the early days of these games, the only feasible way of coming to grips with the problems was to find out the original meaning of these terms."

While his research was also looking on the origin of more popular European sports, such as football, Gillmeister believes that his research shows the very earliest origins of cricket emerging from Belgium.

"The corresponding term for Northern French cachier, 'to drive', in Flemish (the Germanic language spoken in Flanders - now Belgium) was caetsen, and a dialectal variant of this was ketsen. In ball games, this meant 'to chase (a ball)'. Medieval hockey, a variant of football may have been described as a game in which the ball was driven by a curved stick, a shepherd's crook, hence the phrase met de Krik/krek ketsen.

"Cricket therefore in the country of its origin was a form of hockey which in the course of its history, and possibly in the south of England evolved into modern cricket after the element of violence characteristic of the former had given way to the element of skill in the process of civilisation.

"English cricket in all probability was introduced by Flemish immigrants early in the Middle Ages and was the pastime of people who in one way or another were connected with the wool trade. This was to a large extent in the hands of Flemins, even in England."

Historical records seem to indicate that the popularity of the game did not continue in the region, although there are records of cricket being played by British Guards shortly before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, while the first record of organised cricket in Belgium can be found in a painting, dated 1870, which hangs in the pavilion at Lord's Cricket Ground.

Clubs were formed in Brussels in 1866 and Antwerp in 1880, while international cricket, primarily against the Netherlands, has been played in Belgium in 1905.

While the game may not have continued its early popularity, Belgium will be hoping it can take a step towards ICC World Twenty20 2012 qualification with a successful performance this week.

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