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.
According to the social historian Derek Birley, there was a "great upsurge of sport after the Restoration" in 1660. Gambling on sport became a problem significant enough for Parliament to pass the 1664 Gambling Act, limiting stakes to £100 which was, in any case, a colossal sum exceeding the annual income of 99% of the population. Along with prizefighting, horse racing and blood sports, cricket was perceived to be a gambling sport. Rich patrons made matches for high stakes, forming teams in which they engaged the first professional players. By the end of the century, cricket had developed into a major sport which was spreading throughout England and was already being taken abroad by English mariners and colonisers – the earliest reference to cricket overseas is dated 1676. A 1697 newspaper report survives of "a great cricket match" played in Sussex "for fifty guineas apiece" – this is the earliest known match that is generally considered top-class.
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.
It is generally believed that cricket originated as a children's game in the south-eastern counties of England, sometime during the medieval period. Although there are claims for prior dates, the earliest definite reference to cricket being played comes from evidence given at a court case in Guildford on Monday, 17 January 1597 (Julian calendar; equating to 30 January 1598 in the Gregorian calendar). The case concerned ownership of a certain plot of land and the court heard the testimony of a 59-year-old coroner, John Derrick, who gave witness that:
During the 1970s, the Indian cricket team began to see success overseas beating New Zealand, and holding Australia, South Africa and England to a draw. The backbone of the team were the Indian spin quartet – Bishen Bedi, E.A.S. Prasanna, BS Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, giving rise to what would later be called the Golden Era of Indian cricket history. This decade also saw the emergence of two of India's best ever batsmen, Sunil Gawaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath responsible for the back-to-back series wins in 1971 in the West Indies and in England, under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar.
As of 25 June 2019, India is ranked first in Tests, second in ODIs and fifth in T20Is by the ICC. Virat Kohli is the current captain of the team across all formats, while the head coach is Ravi Shastri. The Indian cricket team has rivalries with other Test-playing nations, most notably with Pakistan, the political arch-rival of India. However, in recent times, rivalries with nations like Australia, South Africa and England have also gained prominence.
The Hambledon Club was founded in the 1760s and, for the next twenty years until the formation of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the opening of Lord's Old Ground in 1787, Hambledon was both the game's greatest club and its focal point. MCC quickly became the sport's premier club and the custodian of the Laws of Cricket. New Laws introduced in the latter part of the 18th century included the three stump wicket and leg before wicket (lbw).
The wicket-keeper (sometimes called simply the "keeper") is a specialist fielder subject to various rules within the Laws about his equipment and demeanour. He is the only member of the fielding side who can effect a stumping and is the only one permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards. Depending on their primary skills, the other ten players in the team tend to be classified as specialist batsmen or specialist bowlers. Generally, a team will include five or six specialist batsmen and four or five specialist bowlers, plus the wicket-keeper.
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.
India has also had some very strong bowling figures, with spin bowler Anil Kumble being a member of the elite group of 3 bowlers who have taken 600 Test wickets. In 1999, Anil Kumble emulated Jim Laker to become the second bowler to take all ten wickets in a Test match innings when he took 10 wickets for 74 runs against Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
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.
Often, fans engage in protests regarding players if they believe that regionalism has affected selection, or because of regional partisan support for local players. In 2005, when Sourav Ganguly was dropped from the team, Ganguly's home town Kolkata erupted in protests. India later played a match against South Africa in Kolkata, West Bengal. The Indian team was booed by the crowd who supported South Africa instead of India in response to Ganguly's dropping. Similar regional divisions in India regarding selection have also caused protests against the team, with political activists from the regional Kalinga Kamgar Sena party in Odisha disrupting the arrival of the team in Cuttack for an ODI over the lack of a local player in the team, with one activist manhandling coach Greg Chappell. Similar treatment was handed to Sunil Gavaskar in the 1987 World Cup Semi Finals by crowds at Wankhede Stadium when he got bowled by Philip DeFreitas.