chapter  2
‘But it’s more than a game. It’s an institution.’
Cricket, class and Victorian Britain’s imperial Englishness
ByClaire Westall
Pages 15

The Anglo-Saxon word cricce' or cryce' is repeatedly invoked as referencing a staff used by shepherds and has helped breed one of the game's most enduring fantasies of the romantic imagination' that of shepherds using their crooks to play an early version of cricket. At the core of this middle-class hegemony was the gentlemanly ideal, conveyed through cricket, and used quite comfortably for the advance of Britain's capitalist-imperial interests. The term gentlemanly capitalism' has been used to capture the dominance of city-based finance by the Victorian middle class. The formal County Cricket Championship developed over a handful of years, between 1873, when the first player qualification rules where introduced, and 1879, when a formal arrangement was agreed to settle the way champions' would be decided with the first official season beginning in 1890 and ending in the crowning of Surrey CCC.