Cricket is known as the gentleman’s game and is now played in 104 countries, with 11 Test playing nations.

Cricket

Cricket is known as the gentleman’s game and is now played in 104 countries, with 10 Test playing nations.

People have been playing a form ofcricketas far back as the thirteenth century although it is generally accepted that the modern form of the game dates back to the 16Th Century England.

In England,cricketis regarded as the national summer sport. It is also extremely popular in Asia, Australasia, West Indies and parts of southern Africa.

The game ofcricketis played between two teams of 11 players on an oval field. In the middle of the field, there is a rectangular strip of ground called thepitchwhich is 22 yards (20.12 metres) long and 10 feet (3.04 metres) wide. At each end of the pitch lies a set of three vertical woodenstumpsand a small horizontal wooden piece lying across them called thebail. Collectively, this is called thewicket.

Each team takes its turn to bat (called aninnings, always plural) while the other team fields. The batting team will have a batsman at each set ofwickets.

Five to six specialist batsmen in each side

The batting team will pick 5-6 specialists and they will continue to try to hit the ball into space so that the batsmen can run to the other end of the pitch to score a run. The batsmen can continue to run if the ball has not yet been returned to thewicketand so can score multiple runs.

When the ball is hit along the ground, and it hits theboundaryfence, four runs will be scored. If the ball goes over theboundaryfence without touching the ground, six runs are scored. Thebatting teamwill continue to bat until one of the following occurs: ten of their players are out, a specified number of balls are bowled, or the batting team has decided they have scored a big enough total.

How to play cricket

The fielding team will try to get the opposingbatsmenout. The team will choose a set of bowlers to bowl the ball to the batsmen in sets of 6 balls calledovers.The bowlers will try to hit thewicketwith the ball, force the batsmen to hit the ball in the air for one of the fielders to catch, or to "trap" themleg before wicket (lbw)where the ball hits the batsman's leg in front of the wicket before it hits the bat. A batsman can also berun outby the ball hitting the stumps before they are able to run to the wicket at the end of the pitch.

Once aninningsis completed, the teams will swap over. The team with the highest number of runs at the end of the match wins the game though longer matches may end in a draw when there has not been enough time to finish the match.

International Cricket Council oversees the matches

The rules of cricket are presided over by the InternationalCricket Council (ICC)andThe Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).The ICC has 104 members, 11 of which haveTest statusmeaning that they are able to participate inTest matches,an international match between two teams with test status and which is considered the highest form of the game.

The 11 Test nations are Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan.

The oldestTestrivalry dates back to 1882 between Australia and England and every two years the teams contestThe Ashesseries. The teams compete for a small urn, said to contain the ashes of burnt cricket stumps. AustralianDon Bradmanremains the most famousAshesbatsman and holds an overallTest averageof 99.94.

Other forms ofcricketexist in national and international competition.Testplaying nations have their own national championships where each team has two innings, and there are alsolimited overscompetitions, most notably in 50 over and 20 over formats.

The history of cricket

In 1971, the first 50 overCricket World Cupwas staged, and it is now played every four years, with the mostrecent event held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. 2007 saw the firstTwenty 20World Cup being held following the success of theIndian Premier League (IPL),where the game's biggest stars are able to earn high salaries in this exciting shortened version of the game, designed to attract bigger audiences to watch cricket.

Crickethas seen a particular explosion of interest in India and Pakistan, where it has become the most popular sport. In 2013, Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar retired after becoming the highest ever scorer inTest cricket.In all, he played 200Test matchesand scored 15,921 at anaverageof 53.78.

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