London: A former president of the French cricket federation has revived claims that his country invented a sport widely regarded as the embodiment of Englishness.
Didier Marchois, who plays for Chauny, northern France, told Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper that medieval documents referred to matches near the battlefields of Crecy and Agincourt during the hundred years war.
“They leave no room for doubt,” Marchois said. “Cricket was born in the north of France and taken across the Channel by English soldiers who picked it up from us during truce periods in the hundred years war.”
Other evidence cited by proponents of cricket’s French origins is a 13th century manuscript from St Omer near Calais which purports to show a batsman defending his wicket.
However, making a definite claim for the sport’s origins is a tricky business as so many cultures have created games which involve hitting a ball with a stick, a skill that is at the heart of cricket.
Meanwhile turning to the present Marchois, who was proud of the fact that France now boasted 50 cricket clubs, said he had a simple explanation for England’s defeat by arch-rival Australia in the first Test in Brisbane earlier this month.
“British kids are soccer crazy and it has undermined your keenness for cricket,” he maintained.