England cricket March 1, 2009

Cricket was imported from Belgium?

Has the first potshot of the Ashes been fired

Has the first potshot of the Ashes been fired? News just in: Cricket could have been imported in to England from northern Europe. This could be a bigger blow to England’s campaign than the chance of Andrew Flintoff missing the entire series. If a researcher from the Australian National University’s department of English and theatre is to be believed, a poem written in 1553, attributed to John Skelton, refers to Flemish weavers, who settled in southern and eastern England in the 14th century, as “kings of crekettes”.

Paul Campbell discovered the reference in the poem ‘The Image of Ipocrisie’ while searching for variations of the ways in which the word cricket was spelt back then. He was aided by German academic Dr Heiner Gillmeister, who first established that ‘cricket’ had its linguistic origins in Flemish. “It could be the earliest known reference to the game which we know as cricket,” Gillmeister was quoted as saying in the Sunday Telegraph. "Of course there is something quite ironic about a German and an Australian making discoveries about what is considered to be such an English game, and in reality that game being a foreign import."

The lines of the poem believed to lend solid proof to the import theory are:

"O lorde of Ipocrites/Nowe shut vpp your wickettes/And clape to your clickettes!/A! Farewell, kings of crekettes!"

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo