At the grassroots level, local club cricket is essentially an amateur pastime for those involved but still usually involves teams playing in competitions at weekends or in the evening. Schools cricket, first known in southern England in the 17th century, has a similar scenario and both are widely played in the countries where cricket is popular. Although there can be variations in game format, compared with professional cricket, the Laws are always observed and club/school matches are therefore formal and competitive events. The sport has numerous informal variants such as French cricket.
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.
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.