History of cricket in India to 1918

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This article describes the history of cricket in India to 1918.


The entire history of cricket in India and the sub-continent as a whole is based on the existence and development of the British Raj via the East India Company.

On 31 December 1600, Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to the (EIC) East India Company, often colloquially referred to as "John Company". It was initially a joint-stock company that sought trading privileges in India and the East Indies, but the Royal Charter effectively gave it a 21-year monopoly on all trade in the region. In time, the East India Company transformed from a commercial trading venture to one which virtually ruled India as it acquired auxiliary governmental and military functions, until its dissolution in 1858 following the Indian Mutiny. The East India Company was the means by which cricket was introduced into India.

In 1639, the Company effectively founded the city of Madras, and in 1661 acquired Portuguese territory on the west coast of India that included Bombay. In 1690, an Anglo-Mughal treaty allowed English merchants to establish a trading settlement on the Hooghly River, which became Calcutta. All of these places became leading centres of cricket as the popularity of the game grew among the native population.

Early developments[edit]

The first definite reference to cricket being played anywhere in the sub-continent is a report of English sailors of the East India Company written in 1737. It refers to cricket being played at Cambay, near Baroda in 1721. The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club was known to be in existence by 1792, but was possibly founded more than a decade earlier. In 1799, another club was formed at Seringapatam in south India after the successful British siege and the defeat of Tipu Sultan.

Beginning of first-class cricket[edit]

In 1864, a Madras v. Calcutta match was arguably the start of first-class cricket in India. The British played the Indians to build relationships with the Indians and if the Indian elite had connections with the British, the British could have more control of India because of Cricket.

The most important fixture in the 19th century was the Bombay Presidency Match which evolved, first, into the Bombay Triangular and then into the Bombay Quadrangular. The match was first played in 1877 and then intermittently for several seasons until finally being given first-class status in 1892-93.

An English team led by George Vernon in 1889–90 was the first foreign team to tour India but none of the matches that it played are considered first-class.

First-class cricket definitely began in the 1892–93 season with two Europeans v Parsees matches, at Bombay (match drawn) and Poona (Parsees won by 3 wickets). In the same season, Lord Hawke captained an English team that played four first-class matches including a game against "All India" on 26–28 January 1893.

Domestic cricket[edit]

Bombay Presidency winners[edit]

Bombay Triangular winners[edit]

Bombay Quadrangular winners[edit]

Leading players by season[edit]

The lists below give the leading first-class runscorers and wicket-takers in each domestic season.


  • 1892-93 – Ledger Hill (Lord Hawke's XI) – 212 runs @ 35.33 (HS 132); the leading Indian batsman was Nasarvanji Bapasola with 155 @ 38.75 (HS 65)
  • 1893-94 –


  • 1892-93 – John Hornsby (Lord Hawke's XI) – 28 wickets @ 10.67 (BB 8–40); the leading Indian bowler was Dinshaw Writer with 19 @ 4.94 (BB 8–35)
  • 1893-94 –

International cricket[edit]

The first Indian ventures into international cricket were by the Parsees cricket team which toured England twice in the 1880s. See: Parsee cricket team in England in 1886 and Parsee cricket team in England in 1888.

International tours of India[edit]

G. F. Vernon's XI 1889–90[edit]

An English cricket team led by G F Vernon toured Ceylon and India in the winter of 1889-90. The team played no first-class matches but it was a pioneering tour being the first visit by an English team to India and the second to Ceylon. In all, the team played 13 matches of which 10 were won, 1 was lost and 2 drawn.

Lord Hawke's XI 1892–93[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970
  • Vasant Raiji, India's Hambledon Men, Tyeby Press, 1986
  • Mihir Bose, A History of Indian Cricket, Andre-Deutsch, 1990
  • Ramachandra Guha, A Corner of a Foreign Field – An Indian History of a British Sport, Picador, 2001

External links[edit]