As the 20th century started, a commercial traveller from London John George Grant felt that the division between cricket and tennis summer ball sports was pointless and possibly a great opportunity for making money. Therefore, he decided to develop a fast-moving hybrid of the two versions – the Vigoro sport. Initially, Vigoro involved two teams with 8-11 players each. The players performed like cricketers – batting, fielding, and bowling – with racquets. The players used six rubber balls – not the usual three – and they had to place stumps at the ends of a pitch.
The press of that age highly praised the sport for its invigorating and vigorous nature and one that lacked the dangers of cricket and spatial restrictions of cricket. However, this sport, to which the traveler George Grant held the patent, was somehow odd. The wicketkeeper bowlers had to improve their skills to prevent the changes of ends, which consumed more time. They relied on the tennis style of ball serving.
Whenever a batsman made contact with the ball, he had to run and as a result, speed things up. To catch the ball, fielders held the racket lobbed the racket in the air and held it in an angle. They were then required to rest it on their face. To return the ball, they had to whack it.
Why is vigoro popular in Australia alone?
Initially, England had the largest number of vigoro enthusiasts. The enthusiasm waned as the confusion over the game’s rules increased. Due to the confusion, Grant had to ditch the use of tennis racquets idea and decided to make a round-bottomed wooden bat with a longer handle. As a result, the traditional cricket bowling replaced the tennis-style serving. That might be one of the reasons people in England stopped playing the sport.
Its waning in England did not bring it to a complete stop – its popularity grew rapidly in Australia after its introduction during the World War 1. One of the key persons behind the success of this sport in Australia is Ettie Dodge – the President of New South Wales Women’s Vigoro Association and Australian Vigoro Association. Her role was entrusted with the progress of the sport after the death of its founder, Grant, in the year 1927. And because of the game’s popularity among women in Australia, we can say that she did some great work.
What’s more, both tennis and cricket establishments were keen to promote the new sport. For example, one of the earliest matches played in October 1902, took place at the Lord’s. EH Miles, a tennis star of those ages, led an eleven to thrash an opposing team that England’s batsman Bobby Abel captained. The Queen’s Club, in London, also hosted several matches in the year 1903. Because tennis players handled rackets in a better way than the cricketers did, they were better at this sport.
Grant had an ambition of breaking into the United States’ market. In the year 1923, he asked for help from Alva Belmont, women right’s activist to ensure the demonstrations of the game in department stores in New York and to develop a tremendous sensation. Before his death, he made it clear that the game’s failure to get worldwide acceptance frustrated him. The plea to Alva Belmont did not yield any positive results.