French cricket holds a unique place in the history of the game for two main reasons. Firstly back in 1478 it is claimed that there is the first written reference to cricket. The Archives Nationale include a petition which states that Gunner Estievent Le Grant left the castle in Liettres &hellip: and arrived at a spot where people were playing with a ball near a stake at criquet. Although no direct relationship between criquet and cricket has ever been proven, in 1998 a match was held at Liettres (near Calais) in honour of the 500th anniversary, when a plaque was unveiled, a street renamed Allee du Criquet, The game between France and the Kent over 50's was won by the hosts by 52 runs.

Secondly the French played Great Britain in the Olympic Games Final of 1900, which was a two-day match comprising 12-a-side. Great Britain was represented by the Devon County Wanderers Club, while France was represented by the French Athletic Club Union (called All Paris) and composed almost entirely of Englishmen living in France and playing for The Albion Cricket Club (then Champions of France) or for Standard Athletic Club.

Great Britain won with five minutes to spare, and is to date the only occasion in which cricket has been played in the Olympics.

French off spinner Guy Brumant bowling against Israel in the 2002 European Championships in Northern IrelandFrench off spinner Guy Brumant bowling against Israel in the 2002 European Championships in Northern Ireland (©CricketEurope)

The first definitive mention of cricket in France was by Horace Walpole in 1766. He recorded seeing a match between some English and French aristocrats at Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. The game must have been reasonably well established in north-east France in the late 18th century otherwise the Duke of Dorset, whilst he was the British Ambassador in the country would not have attempted for a team of English cricketers from Paris to meet a side captained by William Yalden of Chertsey in July 1789, In the event the little matter of the French Revolution prevented the fixture from taking place.

There are records of the game restarting in the 1820s and 30s in the Dieppe, Calais, Boulogne and St Omer regions due to the influx of lace-makers from Nottingham. However when they returned to England the game died out once more.

2006 European Championship: Arun Ayyavoorju about to be caught by Jersey's Robert Minty2006 European Championship: Arun Ayyavoorju about to be caught by Jersey's Robert Minty (©CricketEurope)

Paris became the hub for cricket in the country as the century progressed and by 1900 there were at least 12 clubs participating in a regional championship, including the Sporting Athletique Garrenois, an all-French side.

International matches were held against Belgium from 1906 until 1914, with a tournament held in 1910 as part of the Brussels World Fair. Following the end of the First World War, the game recovered quickly and in 1922 the Federation Francais de Cricket was formed, but when the Second World War came, many clubs folded, never to return.

Just as it looked as if cricket in the country would die out there was a sudden resurgence of activity in the 1980s brought about by the arrival of Asian immigrants. Their enthusiasm encouraged British residents and new clubs were started not only in the Paris region, but also throughout the country. With cricket being played more widely, the Federation Francaise de Cricket reformed in 1987 and two years later merged with their Baseball and Softball counterparts in order to secure state funding. A national side was selected in 1989 to play the MCC at Bois de Mendon to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the postponed Duke of Dorset, and France won, thanks primarily to the efforts of Irish opener Jack Short who made an unbeaten 73.

A boundary for France's Sithambaranathan plays the cut shot to the boundary against Guernsey in the 2008 European ChampionshipA boundary for France's Sithambaranathan plays the cut shot to the boundary against Guernsey in the 2008 European Championship (© CricketEurope)

Essex visited France in 1991 to mark the opening of a new ground at Chateau de Thoiry, while Nottinghamshire came in 1993 to celebrate the first grass wicket in the country at Saumur. International fixtures followed and in 2001 they played in the ICC Trophy.

There have been a few run-ins with the European cricket authorities, firstly in 1999 when they played 12 year-old Mathieu Royant against Denmark, but when he was subsequently barred from the next match against Israel for being too young, France refused to play and a walk-over was awarded.

In 1999 15 year-old teenage girl Cindy Paquin was barred by the ECC from playing in their Colts tournament due to a risk of injury in an otherwise male tournament. When they refused to change their squad they were barred from participating.

David Bordes

While success at tournaments has been limited, their 1997 win against Germany in the final of the European Nations Cup has gone down in folklore. David Bordes (right) was struck on the forehead by a bouncer but managed to scramble a leg bye before collapsing with what turned out to be a fractured skull! The importance of the run became clear in the second innings as Germany were dismissed for 266 - France victorious by one run! Bordes was in hospital for two weeks but resumed playing later that year and became an integral part of the coaching set-up after he retired. He now lives and works for Cricket Scotland.

Another famous figure in French cricket is Simon Hewitt, who played first-class cricket at Oxford before settling in France. He scored 162 against Luxembourg in 2000 and became coach after retiring in 2001.

They have been regular participants in the European Championships and in later years the various T20 qualifying tournaments, winning their fair share of games without really ever threatening the qualification slots. Such was the case in the Division Two competitions of 2008 and 2010 when they finished third and fourth behind winners Jersey and Guernsey.

Wasim Bhatti batting against Belgium in the 2013 European ChampionshipWasim Bhatti batting against Belgium in the 2013 European Championship (© CricketEurope)

12-team European Division One tournaments in the Channel Islands in 2011 and at Sussex in 2013 served as a qualification competition for the T20 World Cups. 2011 saw sixth place secured finishing behind Denmark and Jersey in the group stages, while they lost out to Norway in the play-offs, having earlier beaten Austria.

In 2013, wins against Germany, Isle of Man and old foes Belgium saw them finish third in their group, and they went on to secure fifth place with a play-off win against Austria.

In 2015 they failed to win a game in the tournament hosted by Jersey, losing also to Denmark, Italy, Norway and Guernsey.

Their only win at the 2017 European Division One competition saw them beat Sweden by two wickets thanks to an unbeaten century from Usman Shahid.

Usman Shahid batting against Germany in the 2017 European ChampionshipUsman Shahid batting against Germany in the 2017 European Championship (© CricketEurope, Sander Tholen)

In 2018 they beat Cyprus and Portugal in the tournament played in The Netherlands, but missed out on progression finishing fourth behind Denmark, Germany and Austria.

France at International Tournaments
View Tournament2018 European Division 1 (The Netherlands)
View Tournament2017 European Division 1 (The Netherlands)
View Tournament2015 European Division 1 (Jersey)
View Tournament2013 European Division 1 (Sussex, England)
View Tournament2012 WCL Division 8 Europe Qualifier (La Manga, Spain)
View Tournament2011 European Division 1 (Jersey & Guernsey)
View Tournament2010 European Division 2 (Guernsey)
View Tournament2008 European Division 2 (Guernsey)
View Tournament2006 European Division 2 (Scotland)
View Tournament2004 European Division 2 (Belgium)
View Tournament2002 European Division 2 (Northern Ireland)
View Tournament2001 ICC Trophy (Toronto)
View Tournament2000 European Division 2 (Scotland)
View Tournament1998 European Division 2 (The Netherlands)

This article was first written by Roy Morgan in 2006 and has been updated by CricketEurope.