How Cricket Inspired The Sport Of Netball

When you trace the lineage of sports before they were played in the modern professional leagues we come to expect today, you see a lot of connections between sports that drifted far apart from each other.

The differences between Netball and Basketball, for example, emerged as the result of a misinterpretation of James Naismith’s rules of the latter, but in 2023 the only aspect that basketball and netball events have in common is that you throw a ball through a hoop.

However, there is also a surprising connection between netball and cricket, as well as Rugby, namely in the structure of the season, the teams that commonly play the sport and in attempts to bring the sport to a wider audience.


The Test Match 

Easily the closest connection between the two sports is the concept of the test match, which is an officially sanctioned international game or group of games played by two national netball teams.

The term comes from cricket, with by far the most famous test match series in the world being the annual Ashes.

Despite being commonly associated with cricket due to how fundamentally it changes how the game is played, test matches are also played in rugby and netball continuing that tradition amongst the biggest teams in the sport, such as New Zealand, Australia and England.


The Format Changes

The other major inspiration that netball borrowed from cricket was in creating a new, fast-paced format to appeal to a wider televised audience.

The Twenty20 (or T20) format replaced the One Day International format in terms of providing a shorter, faster paced and more dynamic experience, with the extremely limited overs rewarding aggressive play.

Rugby Union did something similar in 1999 with a sanctioned world championship for Rugby Sevens, and Netball introduced the Fast5 format in 2008.

This format incorporated rolling substitutions, three-point shots, power plays that allowed for double points, smaller teams, sudden-death overtime rules and overall faster play.

It has become very popular, helped by the fact it is played annually rather than every four years internationally.