First-class cricket in England is played for the most part by the 18 county clubs which contest the County Championship. The concept of a champion county has existed since the 18th century but the official competition was not established until 1890. The most successful club has been Yorkshire, who had won 32 official titles (plus one shared) as of 2019.
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player (so they are "out"). Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground. When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match's statistical information.
The Nawab of Pataudi, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, was the team's captain for 36 Test matches from 1961–62 to 1969–70, returning for another four matches against West Indies in 1974–75. In the early years of his captaincy tenure, the team was whitewashed in the West Indies, England and Australia. However, in 1967–68, Pataudi led India on its maiden New Zealand tour, which ended in India winning the Test series 3–1. In 1970–71, Ajit Wadekar took over the captaincy from Pataudi. Under Wadekar's captaincy, India registered its first Test series win in the West Indies and England. India played its first ODI in 1974, also under his captaincy. India won its first ODI under the captaincy of Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan in the 1975 Cricket World Cup, against East Africa. Between 1975–76 and 1978–79, Bishen Singh Bedi captained the team in 22 Tests and 4 ODIs, winning 6 Tests and one ODI.
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.
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.
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.
Inter-State T20 Championship – After India became another member of the ICC Twenty20 and played its first international T20 against South Africa, the BCCI launched its own state structure in 2006–07 season, with 27 Ranji teams divided in 5 Zones. The final was played between Punjab and Tamil Nadu, which the latter won by 2 wickets and 2 balls remaining, thereby becoming the only ever winner of this series. In this series, Rohit Sharma also became the only ever Indian to register a T20 century for Mumbai against Gujarat. The competition was later replaced by the franchise-based IPL.
Cricket has close historical ties with Australian rules football and many players have competed at top levels in both sports. In 1858, prominent Australian cricketer Tom Wills called for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with "a code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during the off-season. The Melbourne Football Club was founded the following year, and Wills and three other members codified the first laws of the game. It is typically played on modified cricket fields.
Duleep Trophy – Named after Duleepsinhji, the Duleep Trophy competition, which is a first-class competition started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1961–62 with the aim of providing a greater competitive edge in domestic cricket. Because apart from the knock-out stages of the Ranji Trophy, that competition proven to be highly predictable, with Bombay winning for the Ranji trophy for fifteen consecutive years. The Duleep Trophy was also meant to help the selectors to assessing form of top cricketers playing against each other. The original format had five teams, which were drawn from the five zones (i.e. North, South, East, West and central), play each other on a knock-out basis. From the 1993–94 season, the competition has been converted to a league format.
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.
Previous versions of the Spirit identified actions that were deemed contrary (for example, appealing knowing that the batsman is not out) but all specifics are now covered in the Laws of Cricket, the relevant governing playing regulations and disciplinary codes, or left to the judgement of the umpires, captains, their clubs and governing bodies. The terse expression of the Spirit of Cricket now avoids the diversity of cultural conventions that exist in the detail of sportsmanship – or its absence.
The captain is often the most experienced player in the team, certainly the most tactically astute, and can possess any of the main skillsets as a batsman, a bowler or a wicket-keeper. Within the Laws, the captain has certain responsibilities in terms of nominating his players to the umpires before the match and ensuring that his players conduct themselves "within the spirit and traditions of the game as well as within the Laws".
Similar to the first-class kits, BCCI logo is placed on the left chest while the logo of the kit manufacturer (Nike) sits on the right chest. The official team sponsor's logo (currently BYJU'S) is present on the central part of the jersey usually above 'INDIA' text as well as the sleeve of the players' leading arms. For T20 kits, in addition to these, the sponsor's logo is also present on the back, below the players' numbers. However, for ICC tournaments, the tournament logo is placed on the right chest and the sponsor's logo is allowed only on the sleeve of the players' leading arms. The kit manufacturer's logo in such cases will be printed on the sleeve of the players' non-leading arms. The name and jersey number of the players are printed on the back.