While searching for statistics on the size of bat wings, I came across this statement:

Anyone who has studied the history and statistics of cricket up to the advent of roundarm bowling will agree that the single greatest controversy that the sport had to deal with pre-roundarm concerned the width of the bat.…

The incident is shrouded in controversy even now.

Controversy, it turns out, means that either “Shock” White or “Daddy” White introduced a “monster bat” into play on the cricket … field-thingy. What madness could drive an 18th century batsman to employ such an affront to nature? Therein lies the true controversy, I imagine.

The history of crickets extends easily into the Cretaceous. As for the statistics of crickets, the loudest species measured is the European mole cricket, at least according to the University of Florida Book of Insect Records (PDF link). A pregnant giant weta of New Zealand is reportedly the heaviest insect ever weighed, and is certainly the heaviest cricket.


  1. #1 csrster
    October 4, 2007

    What is interesting in the wikipedia article is the remark that the wide-bat incident could only have occurred _after_ the transition from a hockey-stick shaped bat to a straight bat, and that this was itself a consequence of the development of pitched bowling by Edward “Lumpy” Stevens.

    Don’t you just know that Stephen Jay Gould would have been able to turn that into a brilliant little analogy of some vitally important and often misunderstood principle of evoltionary biology?

  2. #2 Josh Rosenau
    October 4, 2007

    I think Gould would first have connected the story to the history of baseball. Cricket itself is not terribly Gouldish, but baseball, and analogies from it to evolution, would work nicely.

    I expect that he would have pointed out how historically contingent that sequence of events was which led from a field hockeyish stick to the development of straight cricket bats, and on to a standardized size of the bat, all as an arms race.

    The analogy to the rapid radiation of hard-bodied Cambrian species would have been obvious to him. On one hand, the diversification of the hockeyish sports to include lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, cricket and baseball as players and rulemakers struggled to keep the game fair to all sides. And 500 million years ago, the struggle to evade predators, and to be more effective predators, led to the divergence and diversification of the ancestral lines which led to so many modern phyla.

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