The patrons, and other players from the social class known as the "gentry", began to classify themselves as "amateurs"[fn 1] to establish a clear distinction vis-à-vis the professionals, who were invariably members of the working class, even to the point of having separate changing and dining facilities. The gentry, including such high-ranking nobles as the Dukes of Richmond, exerted their honour code of noblesse oblige to claim rights of leadership in any sporting contests they took part in, especially as it was necessary for them to play alongside their "social inferiors" if they were to win their bets. In time, a perception took hold that the typical amateur who played in first-class cricket, until 1962 when amateurism was abolished, was someone with a public school education who had then gone to one of Cambridge or Oxford University – society insisted that such people were "officers and gentlemen" whose destiny was to provide leadership. In a purely financial sense, the cricketing amateur would theoretically claim expenses for playing while his professional counterpart played under contract and was paid a wage or match fee; in practice, many amateurs claimed somewhat more than actual expenditure and the derisive term "shamateur" was coined to describe the syndrome.
In cricket, the rules of the game are specified in a code called The Laws of Cricket (hereinafter called "the Laws") which has a global remit. There are 42 Laws (always written with a capital "L"). The earliest known version of the code was drafted in 1744 and, since 1788, it has been owned and maintained by its custodian, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London.
Before a match begins, the team captains (who are also players) toss a coin to decide which team will bat first and so take the first innings. Innings is the term used for each phase of play in the match. In each innings, one team bats, attempting to score runs, while the other team bowls and fields the ball, attempting to restrict the scoring and dismiss the batsmen. When the first innings ends, the teams change roles; there can be two to four innings depending upon the type of match. A match with four scheduled innings is played over three to five days; a match with two scheduled innings is usually completed in a single day. During an innings, all eleven members of the fielding team take the field, but usually only two members of the batting team are on the field at any given time. The exception to this is if a batsman has any type of illness or injury restricting his or her ability to run, in this case the batsman is allowed "A Runner" who can run between the wickets when the batsman hits a scoring run or runs. The order of batsmen is usually announced just before the match, but it can be varied.
India recorded their first Test victory, in their 24th match, against England at Madras in 1952. Later in the same year, they won their first Test series, which was against Pakistan. They continued their improvement throughout the early 1950s with a series win against New Zealand in 1956. However, they did not win again in the remainder of the decade and lost badly to strong Australian and English sides. On 24 August 1959, India lost by an innings in the Test to complete the only 5–0 whitewash ever inflicted by England. The next decade saw India's reputation develop as a team with a strong record at home. They won their first Test series against England at home in 1961–62 and also won a home series against New Zealand. They managed to draw home series against Pakistan and Australia and another series against England. In this same period, India also won its first series outside the subcontinent, against New Zealand in 1967–68.
In the visual arts, notable cricket paintings include Albert Chevallier Tayler's Kent vs Lancashire at Canterbury (1907) and Russell Drysdale's The Cricketers (1948), which has been called "possibly the most famous Australian painting of the 20th century." French impressionist Camille Pissarro painted cricket on a visit to England in the 1890s. Francis Bacon, an avid cricket fan, captured a batsman in motion. Caribbean artist Wendy Nanan's cricket images are featured in a limited edition first day cover for Royal Mail's "World of Invention" stamp issue, which celebrated the London Cricket Conference 1–3 March 2007, first international workshop of its kind and part of the celebrations leading up to the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Sachin Tendulkar, who began playing for India as a 16-year-old in 1989 and has since become the most prolific run-scorer in the history of both Test and ODI cricket, holds a large number of national batting records. He holds the record of most appearances in both Tests and ODIs, most runs in both Tests and ODIs and most centuries in Tests and ODIs. The highest score by an Indian is the 319 scored by Virender Sehwag in Chennai. It is the second triple century in Test cricket by an Indian, the first being a 309 also made by Sehwag although against Pakistan. The team's highest ever score was a 759/7 against England at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai in 2016, while its lowest was 42 against England in 1974. In ODIs, the team's highest score is 418/5 against West Indies at Indore in 2011–12. India score 413–5 in a match against Bermuda in 2007 World Cup which is the highest score ever in Cricket World Cup history. In the same match, India set a world record of the highest winning margin in an ODI match of 257 runs.
The Bombay Gymkhana hosted the first ever Test match in India which is the only Test it has hosted to date. Wankhede Stadium, established in 1974, has a capacity to hold 33,000 spectators and is currently the most popular venue in the city. It has hosted 24 Test matches. It was the unofficial successor of the Brabourne Stadium, which is also located in Mumbai. Mumbai is often considered the cricketing capital of India because of its fans and the talent it produces (see Mumbai cricket team) and thus the stadium regularly hosts major Test matches. The M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk is also considered to be an important historical Indian cricket ground, established in the early 1900s it was the site of India's first Test victory.
In 1611, the year Cotgrave's dictionary was published, ecclesiastical court records at Sidlesham in Sussex state that two parishioners, Bartholomew Wyatt and Richard Latter, failed to attend church on Easter Sunday because they were playing cricket. They were fined 12d each and ordered to do penance. This is the earliest mention of adult participation in cricket and it was around the same time that the earliest known organised inter-parish or village match was played – at Chevening, Kent. In 1624, a player called Jasper Vinall died after he was accidentally struck on the head during a match between two parish teams in Sussex.
Since 2000, the Indian team underwent major improvements with the appointment of John Wright, India's first ever foreign coach. This appointment met success internationally as India maintained their unbeaten home record against Australia in Test series after defeating them in 2001 and won the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007. India was also the first Sub-continental team to win at the WACA in January 2008 against Australia.
The current sponsor of the team is BYJU's. OPPO's sponsorship was to run from 2017 until 2022, but was handed over to BYJU's on 5 September 2019. Previously, the Indian team was sponsored by Star India from 2014 to 2017, Sahara India Pariwar from 2002 to 2013 and ITC Limited (with Wills and ITC Hotels brands) from 1993 to 2002. The current kit sponsor for the Indian team until September 2020 is Nike, which in 2005 acquired the rights from BCCI. The deal with Nike has been extended twice for a period of five years each time; in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Paytm acquired the title sponsorship for all matches played by the team within India in 2015 and extended the same in 2019 until 2023. Star Sports Network is the official broadcaster until 2023 for all matches the team plays in India.
In contrast, India fielded a strong team in Test matches and was particularly strong at home, where their combination of stylish batsmen and beguiling spinners were at their best. India set a then Test record in the third Test against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 1976, when they chased 403 to win, thanks to 112 from Viswanath. This West Indian defeat is considered to be a watershed in the history of their cricket because it led to captain Clive Lloyd dispensing with spin altogether and relying entirely on a four-man pace attack instead. In November 1976, the team established another record by scoring 524 for 9 declared against New Zealand at Kanpur without any individual batsman scoring a century. There were six fifties, the highest being 70 by Mohinder Amarnath. This innings was only the eighth instance in Test cricket where all eleven batsmen reached double figures.
In the approximate centre of the field is a rectangular pitch (see image, below) on which a wooden target called a wicket is sited at each end; the wickets are placed 22 yards (20 m) apart. The pitch is a flat surface 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide, with very short grass that tends to be worn away as the game progresses (cricket can also be played on artificial surfaces, notably matting). Each wicket is made of three wooden stumps topped by two bails.