A short history of cricket
The true history of the 'noble's game' is unknown, but a common theory is that it was invented by shepherds. As legend has it, one of the herdsmen would stand in front of a gate and another would throw a rock at him. (Nowadays, that would be classed as abuse, but back then it was a sport. Crazy...) He would hit it with his crook, then called a cricce.
As Schmik stated, the first reference to cricket being played is thought to be in 1300. Then, in 1646, Prince Edward and Piers Gaveston played the first ever recorded match at Coxheath in Kent, England. The first match between different geographical areas, the predecessor to the modern Ashes, One Day-ers and Test Matches, was held between Surrey and Kent in 1709.
The bats, after the assumedly huge success of the crooks, were long and thin clubs, and were swung like baseball bats. By 1700 the bat was thicker and carved of a single piece of wood. The more modern piece of willow with a cane handle and strips of rubber tied with twine was invented in 1853. The early balls (ie, stones) evolved into today's cork hand-stitched red leather quarters after a few hundred years of people being hit in the eyes, head and body with sharp rocks.
Today the wickets are made up of three stumps; once there were two, and at another stage there were four posts. The wicket must be 22.86cm wide with two bails on top, but in the 17th century, the stumps could be placed up to two metres apart.
Info from ball2ball.com