Cricket is England’s national summer sport, and it is now famous worldwide, especially in India, Australia, the West Indies, Pakistan, and the British Isles. You can bet on cricket, for this is enough to navigate the rules of the game and know a few nuances.
A match consists of two teams, each with eleven players, one of whom is the captain. A match may be played between teams of fewer than or more than eleven players by agreement, but no more than eleven players may be on the field at any given moment.
Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport in which two teams of 11 players compete against one other. The pitch is rectangular in the middle of the field that is 22 yards by 10 feet. At each end of the pitch, two sets of three sticks, known as wickets, are placed in the ground. Bails are horizontal pieces that go over the top of each wicket. The teams rotate batting and bowling (pitching) turns; each turn is referred to as an “inning” (always plural).
Depending on the predetermined duration of the competition, each team has one or two innings to score the most runs. With a straight arm, the bowlers attempt to break (strike) the wicket with the ball, causing the bails to fall. The batsman can be dismissed or put out in a variety of ways. A bowler bowls six balls (an “over”) to one wicket, then a different player from his team bowls six balls to the opposing wicket (ending another “over”). The batting team guards their pitch.
Until the early 1800s, all bowling was done underhandedly, and most bowlers preferred the high-tossed lob. Then came “the round-arm revolution,” in which many bowlers began to release the ball at a higher point. After much debate, the MCC changed the law in 1835 to lift the hand as high as the shoulder. The new style resulted in a significant improvement in bowling speed. In defiance of the rule, bowlers gradually raised their hands higher and higher.
Organization of sport and types of competition
Cricket at the county and university levels.
Amateur and professional players competed in some of the first organized cricket matches. The Gentlemen-versus-Players event pitted the most incredible amateurs against the best pros from 1806 (annually from 1819) through 1962. When the MCC and the counties abandoned the difference between amateurs and professionals in 1962, the series ended. Early cricket matches between British universities also took place. Since 1827, the Oxford-Cambridge match, for example, has been played primarily at Lord’s and has become a highlight of London’s summer season.
Cricket on a global scale
The initial members of the Imperial Cricket Conference, England, Australia, and South Africa, dominated international cricket in the early twentieth century. The International Cricket Council, later renamed the International Cricket Conference, steadily assumed increasing responsibility for its administration and transferred its power base from west to east. The movement away from conventional governance systems was complete when the ICC moved its offices from Lord’s in London—home of the MCC, the game’s original rulers, and currently its lawmakers—to Dubai in 2005. The game’s priorities shifted as well. Only Australia and England were still playing Test cricket to sold-out crowds at the turn of the century.