History Of Cricket (sports)


A bat-and-ball sport, is characterized by a contest between two teams, each typically comprising 11 players. This sport is played on a grassy field, which is roughly oval in shape. At the heart of this field lies a flat strip of land measuring 22 yards (20.12 meters) in length, referred to as a “cricket pitch.” Positioned at either end of the pitch are structures consisting of three parallel wooden stakes, known as “stumps,” that are firmly embedded in the ground.

These stumps are crowned by two small crosspieces called “bails,” forming a vital wooden assembly known as the “wicket.” Notably, cricket shares some similarities with the American pastime of baseball, as both involve innings, a bat, and a ball. In baseball, the ultimate achievement is a “home run,” whereas in cricket, a “sixer” awards six runs with a single hit.

Cricket boasts a rich history as a team sport, dating back several centuries. Its modern form took root in England, and it remains most prevalent among current and former Commonwealth nations. Cricket has solidified its status as the world’s second most popular sport. The International Cricket Council recognizes over a hundred nations actively participating in cricket. Notably, in South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, cricket holds the distinction of being the most beloved sport.

It also enjoys significant popularity in England and Wales, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, collectively referred to as the West Indies. Beyond these regions, numerous countries such as the Netherlands, Kenya, Nepal, and Argentina host well-established amateur club competitions, emphasizing the global reach and appeal of this venerable sport.

This sport has garnered a dedicated and fervent fanbase, at times triggering diplomatic tensions. One of the most infamous incidents was the Basil D’Oliveira affair, which resulted in South Africa’s exclusion from international sporting competitions. Additionally, historical episodes like the Bodyline series, contested between England and Australia in the early 1930s, and the contentious underarm bowling incident in 1981, pitting Australia against New Zealand, stand as noteworthy examples of the sport’s capacity to incite controversy and provoke international reaction.

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In this cricket scene, bowler Shaun Pollock delivers a bowl to batsman Michael Hussey. The discernibly lighter section in the field represents the cricket pitch, while the pair of three wooden stumps on the pitch serve as the wickets. Additionally, the two white lines demarcate the creases on the pitch.


  • Credits
  • Nature of the Game
  • Laws of Cricket
  • Players and Officials
  • Players
  • Umpires
  • Scorers
  • The Playing Field
  • The Pitch
  • The Nature of the Pitch
  • Parts of the Field
  • Placements of Players
  • Match Structure
  • The Toss
  • Overs
  • End of an Innings
  • Playing Time
  • Batting and Scoring Runs
  • Batting
  • Run Scoring
  • Extras
  • Bowling and Dismissals
  • Bowling
  • Dismissal of a Batsman
  • Fielding and Wicket-Keeping
  • Other Roles
  • Captain
  • A Runner
  • Substitutes
  • Results
  • History
  • Cricket as a Gambling Sport
  • Cricket on the Rise
  • Forms of Cricket
  • Test Cricket
  • One-Day Cricket
  • Twenty20 Cricket
  • First-Class Matches
  • Other Forms of Cricket
  • International Structure
  • Cricket World Cup
  • Culture
  • Influence on Everyday Life
  • In the Arts and Popular Culture
  • Notes
  • References

Game Overview

In this sport, the bowler, representing the fielding team, propels a cricket ball that is hard, cork-centered, and encased in leather. The ball is roughly the size of a fist and is launched from one end of the pitch towards the other, typically making a bounce before it reaches the batsman, a player from the opposing team. To safeguard their wicket, the batsman wields a wooden cricket bat. Simultaneously, fellow teammates from the bowler’s side position themselves strategically on the field, ready to retrieve the ball to prevent the batsman from scoring and, if possible, to dismiss them.

If the batsman avoids getting out, such as when the bowled ball strikes the wicket or a fielder catches the ball directly off the bat without a bounce, they may choose to run between the wickets. This allows them to switch ends with a second batsman, known as the non-striker, who has been stationed near the bowler’s wicket. Every successful exchange of ends adds one run to the team’s score, and the victor of the match is the team that amasses more runs.

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In January 2005, a Test match took place between South Africa and England, as depicted in the image. The two individuals in black trousers positioned on the far right side of the frame are the umpires overseeing the match. It’s notable that Test cricket, first-class cricket, and club cricket adhere to the tradition of donning white uniforms and employing red cricket balls. In contrast, professional One-day cricket typically features players in colorful uniforms, and the matches are contested with white balls.

Cricket Regulations

The sport of cricket operates under a comprehensive set of forty-two distinct laws, a code maintained and promulgated by the Marylebone Cricket Club. While the fundamental laws remain constant, teams have the flexibility to mutually agree upon certain rule adjustments tailored to specific matches. Additionally, supplementary regulations exist to address unique situations, introducing alterations to the primary laws as necessary. Notably, specific modifications pertain to the playing format and fielding positions, a subset of regulations that predominantly apply to limited-overs one-inning games featuring a predetermined number of legitimate deliveries.

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A One-Day International match is taking place at The Melbourne Cricket Ground, featuring a contest between Australia and India. The batsmen on the field are donned in yellow attire, while the team responsible for fielding is outfitted in blue.

Players and Officials

Team Composition A cricket team is comprised of eleven players. Depending on their core skills, players are typically categorized as specialist batsmen or bowlers. A well-rounded team generally features five to six specialist batsmen and four to five specialist bowlers. The inclusion of a specialist wicket-keeper is almost customary due to the pivotal role this position plays in the field. In recent times, the role of a specialist fielder has also gained significance within a team’s dynamics. At the helm of each team stands a Captain, who bears the responsibility of making strategic decisions, such as determining the batting order, fielder placements, and the rotation of bowlers.

An exceptional player who excels in both batting and bowling is termed an all-rounder. Those who excel as both batsmen and wicket-keepers are referred to as wicket-keeper/batsmen, often regarded as a subclass of all-rounders. True all-rounders are a rare breed and highly prized in cricket, as most players tend to specialize in either their batting or bowling skills.

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The classic cricket ball features distinctive white stitching, commonly referred to as the seam.
In one-day cricket matches, which are frequently conducted under floodlights, a white ball is employed to enhance visibility.


The umpire system in cricket closely mirrors that of Major League Baseball. A typical cricket match is overseen by two on-field umpires. One of them, known as the bowler’s umpire, stands behind the wicket at the end from which the ball is bowled and holds the ultimate authority for most decisions. The other umpire, positioned at square leg, provides a side view of the batsman and offers assistance in cases where they have a better perspective. In certain professional contests, umpires may opt to refer a decision to an off-field third umpire, who benefits from television replays to make an accurate call.

For international matches, an off-field match referee is present to ensure that the game is conducted in accordance with the laws of cricket and the spirit of the sport.

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A modern Cricket bat (back view)


In the game of cricket, two scorers are appointed, with one usually representing each team. The laws of cricket dictate that these official scorers have the responsibility of meticulously recording all the runs scored, wickets taken, and, when applicable, the overs bowled. They are also entrusted with acknowledging signals from the umpires, maintaining score accuracy by cross-checking with each other, and verifying the score during playing intervals in consultation with the umpires. scorers typically keep tabs on various other details, including the performance statistics of bowlers, the pace at which teams deliver their overs, and team-related data such as averages and records.

In the realm of international and national cricket competitions, the media often demands timely updates on records and statistics. Consequently, unofficial scorers often maintain a running tally to cater to the needs of broadcast commentators and newspaper journalists. It’s worth noting that, while official scorers may occasionally make errors, unlike umpires’ mistakes, these inaccuracies can be rectified after the event.

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The Melbourne Cricket Ground during the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

The Cricket Pitch

In cricket, the central stage of action unfolds on a rectangular clay strip with short grass known as the pitch. This pitch measures 10 feet in width and 66 feet in length (3.05 meters by 20.12 meters).

At either end of the pitch, three upright wooden stakes, referred to as stumps, are firmly anchored into the ground. These stumps are topped with two wooden crosspieces called bails, which connect each stump to its adjacent counterpart. This assembly of three stumps and two bails is collectively known as a wicket.

One end of the pitch is designated as the “batting end,” where the batsman takes their stance, while the opposite end is the “bowling end,” from which the bowler commences their run-up to deliver the ball. The section of the field on the side where the batsman holds the bat is called the “off side” (right-hand side for a right-handed batsman and left side for a left-hander), while the opposite side is referred to as the “leg side” or “on side.”

To facilitate the adjudication of batsmen’s dismissals and to determine the legality of a delivery, lines are drawn or marked on the pitch, known as creases. These creases serve as critical reference points in the game of cricket.

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A standard cricket ground.

The Characteristics of the Cricket

Pitch Cricket pitches exhibit a diverse range of characteristics, influencing factors such as bounce, spin, and seam movement, which are available to the bowlers. Pitches can be categorized based on their consistency. Hard pitches, for example, typically provide even and substantial bounce, making them favorable for batting. On the other hand, dry pitches tend to deteriorate for batting as they develop cracks, and in such conditions, spinners often come into their own, wielding significant influence.

In contrast, damp pitches or those generously covered in grass, often referred to as “green” pitches, offer an advantage to fast bowlers, allowing them to extract additional bounce and seam movement. These types of pitches tend to assist fast bowlers throughout the match, but as the game progresses, they can gradually become more conducive to batting.

Segments of the Playing Field

In one-innings matches played over a predetermined number of deliveries, there are two key field markings to consider. These are represented by a painted oval, which is constructed by drawing a semicircle with a radius of 30 yards (27.4 meters) from the center of each wicket in relation to the width of the pitch. These two semicircles are joined by lines that are parallel and situated 30 yards (27.4 meters) in length along the pitch. This line, often referred to as the “circle,” effectively divides the field into two parts: the infield and the outfield.

Additionally, two smaller circles, each with a radius of 15 yards (13.7 meters), are centered on each wicket and are often marked with dots. These smaller circles delineate the close-infield area. The infield, outfield, and close-infield zones play a crucial role in enforcing fielding restrictions during the course of the game.

Player Positions

In cricket, fielding positions are strategically deployed, particularly for right-handed batsmen, although they serve as general guidelines. With only nine fielders available, excluding the bowler and wicket-keeper, there are invariably unprotected areas on the field.

During a cricket match, the batting team always has two batsmen on the field. The striker, responsible for facing and playing the bowler’s deliveries, takes the central role. The non-striker, the partner of the striker, stands at the bowling end.

On the other side, the fielding team deploys all eleven of its players on the ground, with one player designated as the bowler at any given time. The bowler must change after every over. The wicket-keeper, who generally remains in that role for the entire innings, positions themselves behind the wicket at the end where the batsman is positioned. The captain of the fielding team strategically arranges the remaining nine players, known as fielders, across the field to provide optimal coverage. The specific placement of these fielders can vary significantly, depending on the team’s strategic approach and tactics.

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A wicket consists of three stumps that are hammered into the ground, and topped with two bails.

Match Structure

The Toss Prior to the commencement of the match, the two rival captains partake in a coin toss, a pivotal moment that determines which team will assume the role of batting or bowling first. The captain’s choice hinges on a strategic evaluation of whether their team’s bowlers are likely to exploit the prevailing pitch and weather conditions, which can exhibit notable variations. Alternatively, they might weigh the likelihood of the pitch deteriorating over time, rendering batting a more challenging endeavor in the later stages of the game. As such, the coin toss at the onset of the match plays a pivotal role in shaping the eventual outcome of the game.


In the game of cricket, an innings is subdivided into segments known as “overs,” each encompassing a sequence of six successive legitimate deliveries administered by the same bowler. Following the culmination of an over, the bowler must assume a fielding position while another player assumes the bowling responsibilities.

At the conclusion of each over, there is a shift in the positions and ends used for batting and bowling, necessitating corresponding adjustments in field placements. In this transition, the umpires also change roles; the umpire stationed at the bowler’s end relocates to square leg, and the umpire positioned at square leg moves to officiate at the new bowler’s end.

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A perspective view of the cricket pitch from the bowler’s end.

End of an Innings An innings is considered complete under the following circumstances

  • When ten out of eleven batsmen are dismissed, signifying that the team is “all out.”
  • When only one batsman remains available to bat, with others being incapacitated due to injury, illness, or absence, resulting in the team being “all out.”
  • When the team batting last successfully reaches the target score required to win the match.
  • When the predetermined number of overs is bowled (relevant to one-day matches, typically comprising 50 overs).
  • When a team’s captain declares the innings closed (excluding one-day limited-over matches).

Playing Conditions The duration of cricket matches varies depending on the format

  • Two-innings matches are typically contested over a span of three to five days, featuring a daily schedule of at least six hours of play.
  • One-innings matches, on the other hand, are usually held within a single day and extend for a duration of six hours or more.

Throughout the course of a cricket match, there are designated formal breaks for lunch and tea, as well as shorter pauses for drinks, as required. Additionally, there is a brief intermission between innings.

Cricket is played exclusively in dry weather conditions. Furthermore, since professional cricket often involves bowlers delivering the ball at speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour, it is imperative that the game is conducted during daylight when visibility for the batsmen is optimal. Consequently, play is suspended during rain, with exceptions for light drizzles, and in instances of poor lighting conditions.

While some one-day matches are now conducted under floodlights, it is uncommon to employ floodlights in longer-format games, apart from a few experimental instances in Australia. Professional cricket matches predominantly occur outdoors. These requirements lead to a seasonal pattern of play, with England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Zimbabwe hosting matches during the summer. In contrast, the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh stage their games in the winter, as the summer coincides with hurricane and monsoon seasons in these regions.

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The standard fielding positions in cricket for a right-handed batsman. The spots are only indicative. Only nine fielders are available in addition to the bowler and wicket-keeper, so there are always many unprotected areas.

Batting and scoring runs


In the art of cricket, batsmen take center stage as they face the challenge of striking the ball from the designated batting crease, employing a flat-surfaced wooden cricket bat. When the batsman successfully connects with the ball using their bat, it is termed a “shot” or “stroke.” If the ball grazes the edges of the bat, it is referred to as an “edge” or “snick.” The nomenclature of shots is contingent on the manner of the swing and the intended direction.

Within the realm of team strategy, the batsman has the flexibility to adapt their approach. They can opt for a defensive style, involving controlled blocks to thwart deliveries, or an aggressive one, characterized by powerful strikes aimed at open areas to amass runs. Notably, there is no obligation to run if the ball is effectively struck. Moreover, when the batsman manages to send the ball across the boundary, they automatically accrue runs.

Batsmen enter the game according to a predetermined batting order, a decision typically made by the team captain. The initial positions, occupied by the “openers,” confront the formidable challenge of facing fast bowlers equipped with a fresh new ball. Subsequently, the team tends to bat in a descending order based on their batting prowess.

The first five or six batsmen are often the most proficient in the team. Following them are the all-rounders, bowlers, or wicket-keepers who possess respectable batting abilities. Finally, the pure bowlers, who tend to have a limited batting proficiency, occupy the lower order. Importantly, the order of batting may be altered at any point during the course of the match to adapt to the evolving situation.

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Ricky Ponting of Australia batting.

Run Scoring

In the pursuit of accumulating runs in cricket, there are distinct methods and rules that dictate how a team or batsman can achieve this objective. Here’s an overview of run scoring:

Scoring a Run: To notch a single run, the striker must sprint to the opposite end of the pitch, while the non-striking partner simultaneously runs to the striker’s end. Both batsmen need to touch the ground behind the popping crease with either their bats or their bodies as they complete the run. Batsmen carry their bats while running. In case of a well-struck ball, the batsmen may attempt to return for two or more runs, which is referred to as “running between wickets.” It’s important to note that there is no strict rule mandating that a batsman must run upon making contact with the ball. The decision to run is a mutual one, often communicated through verbal calls like “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” When an odd number of runs is scored, the batsmen switch ends, and their roles as striker and non-striker reverse for the next delivery, unless it’s the last ball of the over.

Run Out: A run out occurs if a fielder dislodges the bails from the stumps with the ball, and no part of the batsman is grounded behind the popping crease. For the purpose of this rule, “batsman” encompasses the bat as long as the batsman is holding it.

Boundary Scoring: When the ball crosses the boundary rope, runs are automatically awarded. If the ball clears the boundary without touching the ground, it is considered a “six,” and six runs are credited. If the ball reaches the boundary after making contact with the ground, it is categorized as a “four,” and four runs are awarded. These runs are added to the team’s total, superseding any runs the batsmen may have previously scored on that delivery. The batsmen return to the ends at which they began, unless they had already scored more runs than they would receive for the boundary hit, which is a rare occurrence.

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The directions in which a right-handed batsman intends to send the ball when playing various cricketing shots.


In cricket, every run amassed by the batsmen contributes to the overall team score. However, a team’s total encompasses additional runs that are not attributed to any specific batsman. These additional runs are collectively referred to as “extras,” though in Australia, they are alternatively termed “sundries.”

Extras encompass various categories, including byes, leg byes, no balls, wides, and penalty runs. Byes and leg byes are scored when the batsman fails to make contact with the ball using the bat, resulting in the ball eluding the wicketkeeper and fielders. On the other hand, no balls and wides are transgressions committed by the bowler.

In cases of more serious violations, such as ball tampering, deliberate time-wasting, or pitch damage, the umpires may allocate penalty extras to the opposing team, typically amounting to five runs for each offense. Additionally, five penalty runs are awarded when a fielder utilizes an object other than their body to field the ball or if the ball strikes an object, like a protective helmet, left on the field by the fielding team. It’s important to note that a team need not be in the batting phase to incur penalty extras; they can be imposed during any phase of the match as warranted by the circumstances.

Bowling and dismissals


In the dynamic realm of cricket, the bowler plays a pivotal role in the game’s proceedings. Here’s an insight into the art of bowling:

Bowling Action: A bowler propels the cricket ball toward the batsmen using a distinct bowling action. The elbow’s position during the delivery is a critical aspect, and it may be held at various angles or bend further, but it is essential that it doesn’t straighten during the action. If the elbow straightens, the delivery is considered an illegal throw, resulting in a no-ball. In compliance with updated cricket regulations and after consultation with health experts, a bowler is permitted to straighten their arm by 15 degrees or less. Going beyond this limit is considered a “no ball.”

Pitching the Ball: Typically, a bowler aims to pitch the ball so that it bounces on its way to the batsman. To avoid a no-ball, part of the bowler’s front foot during the delivery stride must be positioned behind the popping crease, although it doesn’t need to be grounded. Furthermore, the ball must be delivered within the batsman’s reach; if not, it’s termed a “wide.” A wide cannot be called if the batsman makes contact with the ball. In cases where a wide or no-ball is declared, an additional run is added to the batting team’s score, and an extra ball is bowled in the over.

Objectives of a Bowler: The primary objective of a bowler is to take wickets, which means dismissing a batsman from the crease. By removing accomplished batsmen from the opposing team, the bowler reduces the potential for runs to be scored and exposes less skilled, non-specialist batsmen. The secondary task of a bowler is to minimize the number of runs conceded.

Types of Bowlers: In cricket, there are two primary categories of bowlers. Fast bowlers are known for their ability to deliver the ball at high speeds, making it challenging for batsmen to react swiftly. On the other hand, spin bowlers specialize in delivering slower deliveries that have the propensity to bounce and swerve unpredictably, posing a unique challenge for batsmen.

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Andrew Flintoff of England bowling.

Dismissal of a Batsman

In the sport of cricket, a batsman can be dismissed in ten distinct ways. When a batsman is dismissed, they must leave the field, making way for another batsman. If the tenth batsman is dismissed, and only one remains unbeaten, the team is deemed “all out,” and the innings concludes.

Numerous methods of dismissal necessitate the “putting down” of the wicket. The wicket is considered put down if a bail is dislodged from the top of the stumps or if a stump is knocked out of the ground, either by the ball or by a fielder using the hand holding the ball. Among the ten modes of dismissal, the first six are the most common, while the last four are more technical and rarely observed. These ten modes of dismissal are as follows:

Methods of Dismissal in Cricket

In the sport of cricket, there are several ways a batsman can be dismissed. Each method of dismissal has its own distinct criteria. Here’s a breakdown of these methods:

Caught: A fielder catches the ball before it makes contact with the ground, provided the batsman has already struck the ball with the bat or the ball has touched the batsman’s glove while in contact with the bat handle. Both the bowler and the catcher are credited with the dismissal.

Bowled: The bowler dislodges one or both of the bails at the batsman’s end by hitting the stumps. This can happen whether the batsman has edged the ball onto the stumps or not. The bowler is credited with the dismissal.

Leg Before Wicket (LBW): If a delivered ball misses the bat and hits the batsman’s leg, pad, or body, and the umpire judges that it would have struck the stumps, the batsman is given out. Certain exceptions apply, like deliveries pitching outside the leg stump or hitting the batsman outside the off stump when no attempt to play the ball is made. The bowler is credited with the dismissal.

Run Out: A fielder, bowler, or wicket-keeper removes one or both of the bails with the ball while a batsman is running between the wickets. The ball can either hit the stumps directly or be used by the fielder’s hand to dislodge the bails. No official player is credited with the dismissal, but the involved fielder’s identities may be noted on the scorecard.

Stump: The wicket-keeper uses the ball to remove one or both of the bails when the batsman leaves the crease in playing a delivery. Both the bowler and wicket-keeper are credited with the dismissal. This often occurs during spin bowling.

Hit Wicket: If the batsman accidentally knocks the stumps with their body or bat while playing a shot or taking the first run, they are dismissed. The bowler is credited with the dismissal.

Handled the Ball: The batsman deliberately handles the ball without permission from the fielding team. No player is credited with the dismissal.

Hit the Ball Twice: If the batsman deliberately strikes the ball a second time, except for the sole purpose of guarding the wicket. No player is credited with the dismissal.

Obstructing the Field: When a batsman deliberately obstructs a fielder attempting to field the ball. No player is credited with the dismissal.

Timed Out: A new batsman takes more than three minutes to take their position in the field to replace a dismissed batsman, which can lead to forfeiture of the match if the delay is protracted. No player is credited with the dismissal.

Furthermore, a batsman may leave the field without being dismissed, such as due to injury (retired hurt or retired ill). An unimpaired batsman can retire voluntarily, in which case they are treated as being dismissed retired out, with no player credited for the dismissal.

It’s important to note that some of these modes of dismissal can occur without a delivery being bowled, and typically, only one batsman can be dismissed per ball bowled.

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A typical bowling action.

Fielding and Wicket-Keeping

In cricket, fielders play a pivotal role in assisting the bowlers by thwarting the batsmen’s attempts to score runs. They accomplish this by either taking catches to dismiss a batsman or intercepting the ball and quickly returning it, potentially resulting in a run-out. Fielders are allowed to use any part of their body to halt the ball’s progress.

The wicket-keeper, distinguished as a specialist fielder, occupies a unique position during the game. Positioned behind the batsman’s wicket throughout the innings, the wicket-keeper assumes the crucial responsibility of collecting deliveries that the batsman fails to make contact with, thereby preventing the ball from traveling into the outfield. Allowing it into the outfield could enable the batsmen to accumulate byes. To fulfill this role effectively, the wicket-keeper wears specialized gloves and leg pads that safeguard his lower limbs.

Positioned directly behind the striker, the wicket-keeper is strategically placed to seize catches off faint edges from the bat, while thicker edges are typically managed by the “slips” fielders. It’s worth noting that the wicket-keeper is the only player on the field who has the authority to dismiss a batsman through a stumping.

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A pair of wicket-keeping gloves.

Other Roles in Cricket

Captain: The captain’s strategic acumen plays a pivotal role in a team’s success. They are responsible for making several critical decisions, including setting fielding positions, rotating bowlers, and participating in the coin toss. Before the commencement of play, opposing team captains meet for the coin toss, with the winner choosing whether their team will bat first. This decision, influenced by factors such as pitch conditions, weather, and the relative bowling and batting strengths of the teams, can significantly shape the course of the game. In One-Day Internationals, the captain also determines when to utilize Powerplay 2 and 3, which can impact the game’s dynamics.

Runner: When a batsman is physically fit to bat but too injured to run, the umpires and the fielding captain may permit another member of the batting side to act as a runner. Preferably, the runner should have already batted in the innings. The runner’s sole role is to dash between the wickets in place of the injured batsman. It is mandatory for the runner to wear and carry the same equipment as the incapacitated batsman.

Substitutes: In all formats of cricket, if a player sustains an injury or falls ill during a match, a substitute is allowed to field in their stead. However, this substitute cannot participate in bowling, batting, or take on the roles of captain or wicket-keeper. The substitute’s presence is temporary, and they leave the field as soon as the injured player is deemed fit to return.

Between July 2005 and March 2006, the International Cricket Council (ICC) experimented with the concept of a Super Sub in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and some other limited-overs competitions. This allowed a single full substitution, with the replaced player not being allowed to re-enter the game. However, this experiment was discontinued in March 2006.

Cricket Match Results

The outcome of a cricket match can take several forms, depending on how the game unfolds:

Win by Runs: When the team batting last fails to reach the run total set by the opposing team and has all of its batsmen dismissed, they lose by a margin equal to the difference in the run totals. This result is commonly expressed as “Team A wins by (n) runs,” with (n) representing the run difference.

Win by Wickets: If the team batting last surpasses the opposing team’s run total before all their batsmen are dismissed, they win by a number of wickets equal to the difference between the number of wickets lost and 10. This result is conveyed as “Team A wins by (n) wickets,” where (n) signifies the wicket difference.

Innings and Runs Victory: In a two-innings-a-side match, if one team’s combined total from both their first and second innings falls short of their opponent’s first innings total, the match concludes without the need for the opposing team to bat again. In this scenario, it is referred to as an “innings and (n) runs” victory, with (n) signifying the difference in the teams’ totals.

Tie: If all the batsmen of the team batting last are dismissed, and their score is exactly level with the opposing team’s total, the match results in a rare tie. Such outcomes are infrequent in two-innings-a-side matches. In the traditional form of the game, if the predetermined match duration expires without either side securing a win, the match is declared a draw.

Limited Overs or One-Day Match: In games with a single innings per side, a maximum number of deliveries for each innings is often imposed. In these limited overs or one-day matches, the team scoring more runs is declared the winner, irrespective of the number of wickets lost, eliminating the possibility of a draw. In cases of interruptions due to bad weather, the Duckworth-Lewis method, a complex mathematical formula, is often used to calculate a new target score.

No-Result: A one-day match can be declared a “No-Result” if fewer than a previously agreed number of overs have been bowled by either team, under circumstances that make it impossible to resume play. For example, if an extended period of bad weather prevents a normal resumption of the game.

Cricket: A Historical Perspective

The roots of cricket can be traced back to a fundamental form of the game that likely existed in the thirteenth century, with some speculation suggesting an even earlier origin. This early version of cricket appears to have evolved among the youth of farming and metalworking communities in the Weald region, nestled between Kent and Sussex.

Written records provide glimpses of the game’s early history, with references to a sport called “creag” being played by Prince Edward, the son of Edward I (also known as Longshanks), in Newenden, Kent, in the year 1300.

A significant milestone in the history of cricket emerged in 1598 when a court case documented a sport referred to as “kreckett” being played at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, around 1550. This entry is recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary as the earliest recorded instance of the term “cricket” in the English language.

The etymology of the word “cricket” itself has been a subject of debate and speculation. Several linguistic sources have been proposed as potential origins for the term. It’s believed that “cricket” may have derived from various words, such as the Old French “criquet,” signifying a type of club, or the Flemish “krick(e),” meaning a stick. Another possibility is the Old English “crycc,” which referred to a crutch or staff. However, the last option is somewhat problematic due to pronunciation variations across regions, as “cc” in Old English was pronounced differently in the south and the west midlands, resembling “ch.” In the north, the “k” sound was more plausible.

An intriguing alternative theory suggests that the French word “criquet” could have evolved from the Flemish term “krickstoel.” The “krickstoel” was a long, low stool on which one knelt in a church, resembling the long, low wicket with two stumps used in the early iterations of cricket. The multifaceted history and linguistic influences on the term “cricket” add to the tapestry of this beloved sport’s origins.

Cricket and the Rise of Gambling in the Seventeenth Century

In the seventeenth century, historical accounts abound with references that mark the burgeoning popularity of cricket in the southeastern regions of England. By the close of the century, cricket had evolved into an organized pastime, played for substantial wagers, and this period likely witnessed the emergence of the sport’s first professionals.

A significant milestone in the early history of cricket is the documented occurrence of a high-stakes match featuring eleven players on each side, which transpired in Sussex in 1697. This is the earliest known reference to cricket being played with such significant stakes. Remarkably, this particular match entailed wagers amounting to more than 50 guineas, a substantial sum during that era.

The inception and proliferation of gambling played a pivotal role in shaping the development of cricket during this time. Wealthy benefactors and enthusiasts formed their own exclusive “select XIs” to compete, elevating the sport’s stature. Notably, cricket had already established a strong presence in London as early as 1707, drawing substantial crowds to spectate matches at the Artillery Ground in Finsbury. This early history underscores the convergence of cricket and gambling, which laid the foundation for the sport’s enduring legacy.

Cricket’s Evolution and Milestones

Cricket’s historical journey witnessed several pivotal moments that shaped the sport into what we know today:

1709: The first documented match between counties in England took place on June 29, 1709, when Surrey and Kent faced off at Dartford Brent.

Eighteenth Century: This century saw the game undergo significant development, eventually becoming the national sport of England. The player system, akin to modern sports, emerged, distinguishing players with loyalties to specific patrons and those who had the freedom to choose their teams. The Hambledon Club, a pioneering cricket club, played first-class matches as early as 1756 and remained a significant influence until the formation of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1787.

Nineteenth Century: This century was marked by key changes, including the transition from underarm to first roundarm and then overarm bowling, sparking debates and controversies. The concept of a “champion county” emerged in the 1820s, leading to the establishment of county clubs, with Sussex CCC founded in 1839, paving the way for the County Championship.

1859: An English team embarked on the first overseas tour to North America. In 1877, the Melbourne Cricket Ground hosted the inaugural Test match against Australia.

W. G. Grace: The legendary W. G. Grace began his cricket career in 1864, revolutionizing the sport and contributing significantly to its widespread popularity.

Golden Age of Cricket: The two decades before World War I are often referred to as the “Golden Age of Cricket,” producing great players and memorable matches, particularly as organized competition at county and Test levels developed.

Don Bradman: The inter-war years saw the dominance of Don Bradman, statistically the greatest batsman of all time, leading to the infamous Bodyline series in 1932/1933 as England sought to overcome his exceptional skills.

1963: A momentous shift occurred as English counties altered the rules to introduce a variant match format with a limited number of overs per side. This innovation led to the birth of One-Day International (ODI) matches in 1971, with the first ODI Cricket World Cup held in 1975 under the auspices of the International Cricket Council (ICC). ODI matches gained immense popularity but sparked a preference debate among cricket enthusiasts who favored the longer format of the game.

The 2000s: The longer format of cricket has experienced a resurgence in popularity, while the advent of Twenty20 cricket, with its shorter and more explosive nature, has made an immediate impact on the cricketing world. These milestones reflect the sport’s dynamic evolution and continued appeal to fans worldwide.

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In 1867, a Landmark Tour: Indigenous Australians’ Pioneering Cricket Team Visits England
A momentous event unfolded in 1867 when the first Australian cricket team, comprised of indigenous Australian players, embarked on a historic tour of England. This tour holds immense significance, not only in the annals of cricket but also in the broader history of indigenous Australians.

Variants of Cricket

Cricket boasts a diverse array of formats and levels, with three prominent variants played professionally at the international stage:

Test Cricket: Test cricket represents the pinnacle of the sport, featuring matches that span up to five days, where teams compete over two innings. It is known for its meticulous examination of players’ skills and endurance.

One-Day International (ODI) Cricket: ODI cricket offers a more condensed format, with matches played in a single day. Teams have a limited number of overs to bat and bowl, making it a dynamic and thrilling version of the game.

Twenty20 Cricket (T20): Twenty20 cricket is the shortest and most explosive form, characterized by matches that typically last around three hours. It emphasizes aggressive batting, captivating fielding, and quick-paced action, making it a favorite among fans for its entertainment value.

Test Cricket: The Oldest Form of the Game

Test cricket, the oldest and most revered format of international cricket, traces its origins back to the historic 1876/1877 English cricket team’s tour of Australia. The inaugural Test match commenced on March 15, 1877, and employed a timeless format featuring four balls per over, culminating on March 19, 1877, with Australia securing victory by a margin of 45 runs.

Notably, the enduring Test cricket series between England and Australia is known as “The Ashes,” a celebrated rivalry etched in cricketing history. Over the years, more than 1,800 Test matches have been contested, with the number of Test-playing nations expanding to ten. Bangladesh, the most recent addition to this elite group, made its Test debut in 2000.

Test matches follow a traditional format, with both sides batting twice over a period that can extend up to a maximum of five days. However, it’s not uncommon for matches to conclude with a day or even two to spare. In the past, Test matches have spanned three, four, or six days, and some were “Timeless,” played until a definitive result was achieved. Any Test match that doesn’t reach a conclusion within the stipulated time is recorded as a draw.

The Emergence of One-Day Cricket

Limited overs matches, also known as one-day cricket or instant cricket, emerged as a response to the clamor for a more concise and electrifying form of the game. The concept of single-innings, one-day matches had been in existence, but the groundbreaking innovation introduced in 1963 during the English domestic season was the imposition of a set limit on the number of overs for each side, typically set at 50.

The transition to the international stage occurred in 1971 during England’s tour of Australia, when a match was arranged to compensate for the rained-off third Test’s fifth day. This marked the inception of One-Day Internationals (ODIs), which have since captivated audiences worldwide and gained popularity, partly due to the success of the inaugural World Cup in 1975.

ODI cricket has become a fan favorite and a television ratings magnet globally. Innovations such as colored clothing, dedicated tournaments, and “day-night” matches played under floodlights have added to its allure. Nail-biting finishes and the inherent inability of teams to settle for a draw have solidified ODI cricket’s place in the hearts of fans, with the abbreviations ODI (One-Day International) or LOI (Limited Overs International) commonly used to designate international matches of this format.

Twenty20 Cricket: A Thrilling Evolution

Twenty20 cricket, also known as T20, made its debut in English domestic cricket in 2003 with the primary objective of reinvigorating first-class cricket and engaging a broader spectator base. Since then, it has traversed borders, captivating the cricketing world.

In a “Twenty20 Game,” each side faces 20 overs, with intriguing features such as a free hit following a no-ball, compact boundaries, batting-friendly pitches, and other rule modifications designed to appeal to audiences who prefer a faster-paced experience compared to one-day or Test matches.

The inaugural men’s Twenty20 international took place in 2005, featuring Australia and New Zealand, while the first women’s Twenty20 international was contested between England and New Zealand in 2004. Recognizing the format’s potential, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced during its Executive Board meeting in March 2006 that the Twenty20 World Championship would be held biennially from 2007 to 2015. This move signified the global recognition and acceptance of the electrifying Twenty20 format, which has since become a fan favorite for its action-packed and time-efficient cricketing spectacle.

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A view of an international Twenty20 match (between England and Sri Lanka) at the Rose Bowl stadium. Twenty20 matches usually start in the evening and last around two-and-a-half to three hours.

First-Class Matches: Cricket’s Pinnacle

First-class matches represent the pinnacle of cricketing excellence, characterized by their high level of competitiveness and duration. These matches are typically classified as either international fixtures or domestic contests, and they unfold over a minimum of three days on natural, as opposed to artificial, turf.

First-class games adhere to a two-innings format, mirroring Test matches. If a first-class match remains incomplete within the allotted time frame, it concludes as a draw. It’s essential to note that games featuring only one innings per side, such as one-day internationals, do not attain first-class status.

To earn the esteemed first-class designation, a two-innings match must meet specific criteria. Both participating teams must have first-class status. This classification encompasses Test matches, contests between two Test-playing nations, games involving two domestic teams recognized as first-class entities in countries that hold full membership with the International Cricket Council (ICC), and matches between a Test-playing nation’s national team (or a squad derived from a national touring party) and a first-class domestic team from another Test-playing nation.

In certain instances, games featuring a team from an associate member of the ICC, like Kenya, and another team recognized as first-class may also obtain first-class status. However, domestic matches within Kenya do not share this distinction.

The origins of first-class cricket have been the subject of debate among cricket statisticians, with proposed starting dates ranging from 1660, 1772, 1801, 1815, to 1864. The debate continues, leaving the official commencement unresolved. For the limited-overs equivalent of first-class cricket, cricket uses the “list A” status, which reflects a different level of competition and format.

Diverse Expressions of Cricket

Cricket, a sport known for its adaptability, takes on various forms across different settings and levels. The rules of the game are often tweaked to suit specific needs and circumstances, resulting in an array of cricket variants:

Domestic and Club Cricket: Domestic and club cricket matches, at varying levels, frequently undergo rule modifications. These adaptations may aim to enhance commercial appeal, simplify the game, or cater to limited resources. Matches are typically played over one to two days, featuring either two innings per side or one innings per side with limited overs.

Adaptations in Informal Settings: In informal or impromptu settings, cricket is often played with improvised rules to accommodate available resources and maximize enjoyment. It’s played on sandy beaches, ice floes, suburban yards, driveways, and bustling city streets. Variations such as ‘Gully Cricket’ and ‘Tapeball’ are popular in the teeming cities of India and Pakistan. Tennis balls and homemade bats may replace traditional equipment, and wickets can be fashioned from a variety of objects. Rules are sometimes improvised; for example, fielders might be allowed to catch the ball with one hand after one bounce to claim a wicket.

Kwik Cricket: Designed for children, Kwik cricket speeds up the game. In this format, the bowler doesn’t need to wait for the batsman to be ready before delivering the ball. Another pace-enhancing modification is the “Tip and Run,” “Tipsy Run,” or “Tippy-Go” rule, where the batter must run when the ball touches the bat, even if unintentional or minor contact occurs. This rule is mainly employed in informal games, preventing batsmen from blocking the ball.

Indoor Cricket: Indoor cricket takes place in a netted, indoor arena, offering a dynamic and fast-paced experience.

Kilikiti in Samoa: In Samoa, a unique form of cricket known as Kilikiti is played, involving hockey stick-shaped bats.

These adaptations showcase cricket’s universal appeal, making it accessible and enjoyable in a myriad of settings and circumstances.

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In numerous countries, cricket enthusiasts often come together to enjoy the sport on makeshift pitches in parks and ad-hoc grounds. These impromptu cricket matches form a common sight, showcasing the universal love for the game in informal settings.

The Global Structure of Cricket

Cricket, the second most popular sport worldwide, boasts a vast international framework, with over 120 cricket-playing nations acknowledged by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The ICC, headquartered in Dubai, holds authority over international cricket and operates with a composition of representatives from the ten esteemed Test-playing nations, along with an elected panel that represents non-Test-playing nations.

Within this framework, each nation possesses a national cricket board, responsible for overseeing and regulating cricket matches within their borders. These boards also play a pivotal role in selecting the national squad and organizing both domestic and international tours for their respective national teams.

The nations that partake in the sport are categorized into three tiers, contingent on the extent of cricket infrastructure within their borders. The top tier encompasses the prestigious Test-playing nations, which automatically qualify for the quadrennial World Cup matches. Below them are the Associate Member nations, and the lowest tier comprises the Affiliate Member nations, collectively forming the rich and diverse tapestry of international cricket.

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ICC member nations. Orange are the (highest level) Test playing nations; green are the associate member nations; and purple are the affiliate member nations.

The Cricket World Cup: A Legacy of Sporting Excellence

The inception of the Cricket World Cup can be traced back to 1912 when cricket authorities made an initial attempt to create a global championship. This endeavor brought together three Test-playing nations: Australia, England, and South Africa; however, inclement weather thwarted their plans. Subsequently, another attempt was not made until 1975, influenced by the triumph of domestic one-day competitions.

The inaugural World Cup, held in 1975 in England, featured the six Test-playing nations: England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, India, and Pakistan, who were joined by Sri Lanka and East Africa. The tournament garnered immense success, prompting repeat editions in 1979 and 1983, both hosted in England. After 1983, the World Cup began its tradition of traversing different host countries while maintaining the four-year cycle, further solidifying its status as a celebrated sporting spectacle.


Cricket’s Cultural Impact

Cricket has left an indelible mark on popular culture, transcending borders within the Commonwealth of Nations and beyond. This enduring influence is notably reflected in language, art, and literature:

Linguistic Impact: The sport has enriched the lexicon of these nations, particularly the English language, with iconic phrases like “that’s not cricket” (meaning unfair or unjust), “had a good innings” (referring to a long life), and “sticky wicket.” The term “on a sticky wicket,” or sometimes “sticky dog” or “glue pot,” is used metaphorically to describe challenging situations. Its origin lies in cricket, describing difficult batting conditions caused by a damp and soft pitch.

Literary Reverberations: Cricket’s influence extends to the world of literature, with celebrated English poets like William Blake and Lord Byron incorporating the sport into their works. “Beyond a Boundary” (1963) by Trinidadian author C. L. R. James is hailed as one of the finest sports books ever written, delving into the deeper cultural aspects of cricket.

Visual Arts: Cricket has also inspired captivating works of art. Notable cricket paintings include Albert Chevallier Tayler’s “Kent vs Lancashire at Canterbury” (1907) and Russell Drysdale’s “The Cricketers” (1948), regarded as a quintessential Australian painting of the 20th century. Even renowned French impressionist Camille Pissarro painted cricket during a visit to England in the 1890s. The sport has found its way into the works of artists like Francis Bacon and Caribbean artist Wendy Nanan, whose cricket images were featured in a limited edition first-day cover for Royal Mail’s “World of Invention” stamp issue, commemorating the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

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Tom Wills, cricketer and co-founder of Australian football






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