A Twenty20 match will be held on Broadhalfpenny Down, Hampshire, on New Year’s Day to mark 250 years of first-class cricket being played by the Bat and Ball Inn.
Tom Holland, the historian and marquee player of the Authors XI, suggests, however, that the game’s roots go back much further. In his podcast The Rest is History, Holland says that an Armenian theologian called Abraham Terian has found a non-canonical gospel from the 6th century, translated from an older, lost text, that has a nine-year-old Jesus playing a game in which people throw balls for him to hit. It mentions him walking over the sea to retrieve the ball, which would make him useful at New Road in the spring floods.
This fits with other clues in the regular gospels about cricket. St Luke writes of Simon Peter complaining about having caught nothing, to which Christ says: “Go into the deep and have another net.” Perhaps there is a textual error in Acts. Where it says Peter “stood with the eleven and was bold” it should read “bowled”.
Author; Patrick Kidd, The Times 11 December 2022