The diminutive of the Anglo-Saxon cric, a staff or crutch. In the Bodleian library is a MS. (1344) picture of a monk bowling a ball to another monk, who is about to strike it with a cric. In the field are other monks. There are no wickets, but the batsman stands before a hole, and the art of the game was either to get the ball into the hole, or to catch it.
Perhaps the earliest mention of the word “crickett” is 1593. John Derrick, gent., tells us when he attended the “free school of Guldeforde, he and his fellowes did runne and play there at crickett and other plaies.” It was a Wykehamist game in the days of Elizabeth.
A single stump was placed in the seventeenth century at each hole to point out the place to bowlers and fielders. In 1700 two stumps were used 24 inches apart and 12 inches high, with long bails atop.
A middle stump was added by the Hambledon Club in 1775, and the height of the stumps was raised to 22 inches.
In 1814 they were made 26 inches, and in 1817 they were reduced to 22 inches the present height. The length of run is 22 yards.
The first cricket club was Hambledon, which practically broke up in 1791, but existed in name till 1825.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
More on Cricket from Fact Monster: