Cricket since the vikings

Cricket was invented in Denmark during the age of the Vikings

Received wisdom and tradition have it that the game of cricket had its origins in England, more specifically in those southern areas of the country where we find counties like Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. If one looks up ‘cricket’ in various encyclopedia and numerous books about how it all started, that is the story one usually gets.

However, there is always a story – or a yarn – behind a story, and the truth should no longer be held back: Cricket was invented in Denmark and then exported via the North of France by the Normans to England, from whence in later spread, inter alia, back to Denmark.

Proof of this may be found if one follows the linguistic trail and the etymology of the word cricket itself.

Former English cricketer and writer, Robin Marlar, writes in one of his books that “cricket has no traceable beginning” and goes on to write about how the etymological origins of some of cricket’s trappings disappear into Anglo-Saxon times. If one supplements this by the further study of the origins of the game in ‘The Story of Continental Cricket’ (1969) by P.G.G Labouchere, T.A.J. Provis and Peter S. Hargreaves (all of whom well-known figures in the early decades of our forty-club community) one is left in no doubt.

The word cricket, the three cricket gentlemen document beyond a shadow of doubt,  comes from old French ‘criquet’ , which again comes from various old Scandinavian roots like the Danish ‘krøget’ (you just try to pronounce that), or krókr (later became English crook). So the root of the French ‘criquet’ came with the Vikings to the north of France, and then with the Conqueror to England in 1066. Maybe this fits well with the reputed merry character of the Vikings, who, we are told, liked to throw small bones at each other at their feasts until someone got hold of a long bone and hit them back at the thrower – and cricket was born.

This brief account of cricket’s true origins – and it is a true story J – tells us, perhaps, that cricket transcends cultures, borders and many centuries of history.

Our annual quadrangular tournament is currently in its 49th year. It thus predates Britain’s entry into the EU (or the EEC as it was then) and will surely also survive Britain’s leaving the EU in 2019. Cricket thus serves as both a symbol and very concrete manifestation of European collaboration and friendship across borders, independent of whatever institutions our politicians devise for us. And it has been like that for a thousand years.

Præsident Ole Helmersen

Dansk XL