Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played on a cricket field (see image, right) between two teams of eleven players each. The field is usually circular or oval in shape and the edge of the playing area is marked by a boundary, which may be a fence, part of the stands, a rope, a painted line or a combination of these; the boundary must if possible be marked along its entire length.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy – To be played for the first time in the 2008–09 season, this is the first of its kind zonal T20 championship and the third overall in the Indian cricket season, which would see Ranji teams divided along zonal lines into two groups with the tournament culminating in the All India T20 final between the winners of the two groups for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Launched after the success of the IPL and the need of the BCCI to search for more talent in the growing regions of cricket.
In 1876–77, an England team took part in what was retrospectively recognised as the first-ever Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Australia. The rivalry between England and Australia gave birth to The Ashes in 1882, and this has remained Test cricket's most famous contest. Test cricket began to expand in 1888–89 when South Africa played England.
The wicket-keeper and the batsmen wear protective gear because of the hardness of the ball, which can be delivered at speeds of more than 145 kilometres per hour (90 mph) and presents a major health and safety concern. Protective clothing includes pads (designed to protect the knees and shins), batting gloves or wicket-keeper's gloves for the hands, a safety helmet for the head and a box for male players inside the trousers (to protect the crotch area). Some batsmen wear additional padding inside their shirts and trousers such as thigh pads, arm pads, rib protectors and shoulder pads. The only fielders allowed to wear protective gear are those in positions very close to the batsman (i.e., if they are alongside or in front of him), but they cannot wear gloves or external leg guards.
The 19th century saw underarm bowling superseded by first roundarm and then overarm bowling. Both developments were controversial. Organisation of the game at county level led to the creation of the county clubs, starting with Sussex in 1839. In December 1889, the eight leading county clubs formed the official County Championship, which began in 1890.
During the 1980s, India developed a more attack-focused batting line-up with talented batsmen such as Mohammad Azharuddin, Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri prominent during this decade. (Despite India's victory in the Cricket World Cup in 1983, the team performed poorly in the Test arena, including 28 consecutive Test matches without a victory. However, India won the Asia Cup in 1984 and won the World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985.) The 1987 Cricket World Cup was held in India.
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 September 2007, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named as the new captain of the ODI and T20I teams, after Dravid stepped down from the post. Soon after taking up the captaincy, Dhoni led the team to the inaugural World Twenty20 title. Anil Kumble was appointed Test captain in November 2007, but retired from international cricket in November 2008 after captaining in 14 Tests. Dhoni succeeded him as the Test captain, making him the captain in all formats. Under the captaincy of Dhoni, the Indian team held the number one position in the Test rankings for 21 months (from November 2009 to August 2011), and set a national record for most back-to-back ODI wins (nine straight wins). Dhoni also led the team to victory in 2011 Cricket World Cup and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. Thus, Dhoni became the first captain in history to win all three major ICC trophies, namely- ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011, ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 and ICC Champions Trophy in 2013. He is widely regarded as India's best ever captain. However, the team performed poorly in away Tests from 2011 to 2014 and Dhoni retired from Test cricket in December 2014, with Virat Kohli being named as the new Test captain. Dhoni resigned as captain of the ODI and T20 teams in January 2017 and Kohli succeeded him at the position.
Irani Trophy – The Trophy tournament was conceived during the 1959–60 season to mark the completion of 25 years of the Ranji Trophy championship and was named after the late Z.R. Irani, who was associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from its inception in 1928, till his death in 1970 and a keen patron of the game. The first match, played between the Ranji Trophy champions and the Rest of India was played in 1959–60. For the first few years, it was played at the tail end of the season. Realising the importance of the fixture, the BCCI moved it to the beginning of the season. Since 1965–66, it has traditionally heralded the start of the new domestic season. The Irani Trophy game ranks high in popularity and importance. It is one of the few domestic matches followed with keen interest by cricket lovers in the country. Leading players take part in the game, which has often been a sort of selection trial to pick the Indian team for foreign tours.
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.
At the end of the 2004 season, India suffered from lack of form and fitness from its older players. A defeat in a following home Test series against Australia was followed by an ODI home series defeat against Pakistan followed by a Test series levelled 1–1. Greg Chappell took over from John Wright as the coach of the Indian cricket team following the series, and his methods proved to be controversial during the beginning of his tenure. The tension resulted in a fallout between Chappell and Ganguly, resulting in Rahul Dravid being made captain. This triggered a revival in the team's fortunes, following the emergence of players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and the coming of age of players like Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh. A thumping home series victory over Sri Lanka in 2005 and a drawn series with South Africa put India at second place in the ICC ODI rankings. Dravid, Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were selected to play for the ICC World XI in the 2005 "SuperTest" against Australia. A convincing ODI series win in Pakistan in early 2006, following a loss in the Test series, gave India the world record of 17 successive ODI victories while batting second. Towards the middle of 2006, however, a 4–1 series loss in the West Indies gave rise to a slump in India's ODI form, while they achieved a 1–0 victory in the Test series that followed, giving them their first Test series victory in the Caribbean since 1971. India's ODI form slumped further with a disappointing performance in the 2006 Champions Trophy and a drubbing in the ODI series in South Africa. This was followed yet again by an initial good performance in the Tests, giving India its first Test match win in South Africa, although they went on to lose the series 2–1. This Test series was marked by Ganguly's comeback to the Indian team.
After failing to reach the semifinals at the 1999 Cricket World Cup, Tendulkar was again made captain, and had another poor run, losing 3–0 on a tour of Australia and then 2–0 at home to South Africa. Tendulkar resigned, vowing never to captain the team again. Ganguly was appointed the new captain and the team was further damaged in 2000 when former captain Azharuddin and fellow batsman Ajay Jadeja were implicated in a match-fixing scandal and given life and five years bans respectively. This period was described by the BBC as "the Indian cricket's worst hour". However, the new core – Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble and Ganguly – swore not to let this happen to them again, and lead Indian cricket out of the dark times. And the first three put aside personal ambitions to let Ganguly lead them into a new era.