Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each consisting of three stumps topped by two bails. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player (so they are “out”). Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground.
When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match’s statistical information.
The game originated in England, and is widely believed to have been a children’s game that was developed by the medieval Woolpack Inn in the town of Batley, Yorkshire. It is also believed that a similar game was played by the Romans and that an early form of the game was played by the Saxons. The first definite reference to cricket being played comes from a court case in Guildford, Surrey in 1597. The case concerning bailiff Creede of Godalming and a certain plot of land. He had played a “bowling” game on the land, which was owned by Sir Edward Hungerford. The case was settled and cricket continued to be played on land owned by the Hungerford family.
The game grew in popularity and by the early eighteenth century was being played by both sexes in many parts of the country. The earliest known code of laws was drawn up by two men from Sussex in 1744. This code was not universally adopted however and in 1814, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) drew up its own code which has since become known as the Laws of Cricket. This code has been revised on a number of occasions since then, most recently in 2000.
Cricket was first played in America in the late eighteenth century, brought over by British colonists. The game did not gain widespread popularity however and was largely confined to the eastern seaboard states. The game began to spread westward in the early nineteenth century however, thanks in part to the efforts of one man, Alexander Joy Cartwright.
Cartwright was born in New York City in 1820. A keen cricketer, he played for the St George’s Cricket Club in Manhattan. In 1838, he was involved in the founding of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, the first organised baseball club in the United States. In 1845, Cartwright published a set of rules for the game of baseball, which were largely based on the rules of cricket. These rules were adopted by a number of other clubs in the New York area and baseball began to spread across the country.
The first professional cricket match was played in 1864, between an English team led by George Parr and a team of Australian Aborigines. The game was played in Melbourne and the Australians won by 3 wickets. Professional cricket in England began in 1873 with the formation of the county clubs. The first official Test match was played in 1877 between England and Australia.
Cricket has been played internationally since the nineteenth century. The first Test series was played between England and Australia in 1877. The game has been played at the highest level by teams from Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies. Cricket is also played at a lower level by a number of other countries including Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.
The game of cricket is governed by a number of laws and regulations. The main governing body is the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which is based at Lord’s cricket ground in London. The MCC is responsible for the Laws of Cricket, which are the rules of the game. The MCC also organises a number of major cricket competitions including the County Championship in England, the Sheffield Shield in Australia and the Ranji Trophy in India.
The game of cricket has a long and rich history. It is a game that is enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.