Cricket is one of many games in the "club ball" sphere that basically involve hitting a ball with a hand-held implement; others include baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis. In cricket's case, a key difference is the existence of a solid target structure, the wicket (originally, it is thought, a "wicket gate" through which sheep were herded), that the batsman must defend. The cricket historian Harry Altham identified three "groups" of "club ball" games: the "hockey group", in which the ball is driven to and fro between two targets (the goals); the "golf group", in which the ball is driven towards an undefended target (the hole); and the "cricket group", in which "the ball is aimed at a mark (the wicket) and driven away from it".
India were whitewashed 4–0 in away Test series by England in August 2011 due to which England replaced India as the No. 1 Test team in the rankings. This series was followed by another 4–0 whitewash of India in January 2012 in Australia. The disastrous whitewashes saw the retirement of Dravid and VVS Laxman from Test cricket in 2012. Tendulkar retired in November 2013 after his 200th Test match. With Ganguly having retired in 2008, this period signalled the end of the fabled middle-order batting line-up India had for a decade. 2012 signalled a rough period for Indian cricket as they were beaten 2–1 by England at home in the Test series. This was the first Team India were beaten by England at home in the modern era. This was followed by a 2–1 loss in the ODI series against Pakistan, India's arch-rivals, at home. India was then knocked out in the second round of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20. India also failed to qualify for the 2012 Asia Cup final which closed out a disappointing 2012 for the Indian cricket team. 2013 saw a resurgence in Indian cricket.
The addition of Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble to the national side in 1989 and 1990 further improved the team. The following year, Javagal Srinath, India's fastest bowler since Amar Singh made his debut. Despite this, during the 1990s, India did not win any of its 33 Tests outside the subcontinent while it won 17 out of its 30 Tests at home. After being eliminated by neighbours Sri Lanka on home soil at the 1996 Cricket World Cup semifinal, the team underwent a year of change as Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, later to become captains of the team, made their debut in the same Test at Lord's. Tendulkar replaced Azharuddin as captain in late 1996, but after a personal and team form slump, Tendulkar relinquished the captaincy and Azharuddin was reinstated at the beginning of 1998. With the captaincy burden removed, Tendulkar was the world's leading run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs, as India enjoyed a home Test series win over Australia, the best-ranked team in the world.
In April 2009, India secured their first Test series win in New Zealand in 41 years. After beating Sri Lanka 2–0 in December 2009, India became the No. 1 Test team in the world. They retained the ranking by drawing series against South Africa and Sri Lanka. In October 2010, India whitewashed Australia 2–0 in the home test series, giving them back-to-back series wins against them. Later that year, India managed to draw the Test series in South Africa at 1–1.
In 2016, "The Grand Home Season" began for India, including series at home against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. India whitewashed New Zealand to regain the number one ranking in Test cricket after almost 10 years. Before the series against England in November 2016, MS Dhoni resigned as captain of India in limited overs, thus handing the captaincy to Virat Kohli across all formats. India beat England across all three formats, with a notable 4–0 win in the Test series. This was followed by Test series wins against Bangladesh and Australia, which meant India reclaimed the Border Gavaskar Trophy. Ravichandran Ashwin became the fastest cricketer of all time to reach 250 wickets; he and Ravindra Jadeja occupied the top two spots in both the ICC Bowlers and All-Rounders rankings at the time. In the process, India became the third team (after South Africa and Australia) to have won their most recent Test series against all the other Test-playing nations. India holds an unbeaten streak of 8 consecutive Test series wins as of 19 August 2017.
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.
However, there are downsides to having such a cricket-loving population. Many Indians hold cricket very close to their hearts and losses are not received well by the Indian population. In some cases, particularly after losses to Pakistan or after a long string of weak performances, there have been reports of player effigies being burnt in the streets and vandalism of player homes. In many cases, players have come under intense attention from the media for negative reasons, this has been considered as one of the reasons for Sourav Ganguly being left out of the Indian team. At times, when a match is surrounded by controversy, it has resulted in a debacle. For example, when India slid to defeat against Australia at Brabourne Stadium in 1969, fans began throwing stones and bottles onto the field as well as setting fire to the stands, before laying siege to the Australian dressing rooms. During the same tour, a stampede occurred at Eden Gardens when tickets were oversold and India fell to another loss; the Australian team bus was later stoned with bricks . A similar event occurred during the 1996 Cricket World Cup, where India were losing the semi-final to Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens. In this case, the fan behaviour was directed at the Indian team in disappointment at their lacklustre performance. An armed guard had to be placed at the home of captain Mohammad Azharuddin to ensure his safety. Indian fans have also been passionate in their following of Sachin Tendulkar, who has been commonly thought of as one of the best batsmen in the world. Glorified for the bulk of his career, a riot occurred in early 1999 in a Test against Pakistan at Eden Gardens after a collision with Pakistani paceman Shoaib Akhtar saw him run out, forcing police to eject spectators and the game to be played in an empty stadium. Although in 2006, a string of low scores resulted in Tendulkar being booed by the Mumbai crowd when he got out against England
Given Derrick's age, it was about half a century earlier when he was at school and so it is certain that cricket was being played c. 1550 by boys in Surrey. The view that it was originally a children's game is reinforced by Randle Cotgrave's 1611 English-French dictionary in which he defined the noun "crosse" as "the crooked staff wherewith boys play at cricket" and the verb form "crosser" as "to play at cricket".
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.