Most bowlers are considered specialists in that they are selected for the team because of their skill as a bowler, although some are all-rounders and even specialist batsmen bowl occasionally. The specialists bowl several times during an innings but may not bowl two overs consecutively. If the captain wants a bowler to "change ends", another bowler must temporarily fill in so that the change is not immediate.
Cricket is the most popular sport in India by far, and is played almost everywhere. The Indian national cricket team won the 1983 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, and shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka. The 2023 Cricket World Cup will be hosted by India.
The other ICC full members have national championship trophies called the Ahmad Shah Abdali 4-day Tournament (Afghanistan); the National Cricket League (Bangladesh); the Ranji Trophy (India); the Inter-Provincial Championship (Ireland); the Plunket Shield (New Zealand); the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (Pakistan); the Currie Cup (South Africa); the Premier Trophy (Sri Lanka); the Shell Shield (West Indies); and the Logan Cup (Zimbabwe).
Since colours have made their way into international cricket, the Indian cricket team has chosen blue as their primary colour. The blue colour of the uniform has earned them the nickname of 'Men in Blue' for the Indian cricket team. The secondary colour has changed over the years while yellow and orange have been dominant. With the inception of the World Series Cup in 1979, each team had to don a primary and secondary colour on their uniforms and the Indian team elected to wear light blue as their primary colour and yellow as their secondary colour. The team has worn different shades of blue since then. For the 1992 World Cup (Benson & Hedges World Cup), the team's colours were changed to navy-blue by ISC, the common kit manufacturer for the tournament. A light shade of blue with yellow as secondary colour and a strip with 10 different colours (representing different nations) was adapted on the uniform for the 1996 World Cup (Wills World Cup) while an even lighter shade of blue and a dominant yellow was used by ASICS, the common kit manufacturer for the 1999 World Cup. The ICC no longer appoints a common kit manufacturer for its tournaments.
India was invited to The Imperial Cricket Council in 1926, and made their debut as a Test playing nation in England in 1932, led by CK Nayudu, who was considered as the best Indian batsman at the time. The one-off Test match between the two sides was played at Lord's in London. The team was not strong in their batting at this point and went on to lose by 158 runs. India hosted its first Test series in the year 1933. England was the visiting team that played 2 Tests in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta (now Kolkata). The visitors won the series 2-0. The Indian team continued to improve throughout the 1930s and '40s but did not achieve an international victory during this period. In the early 1940s, India didn't play any Test cricket due to the Second World War. The team's first series as an independent country was in late 1947 against Sir Donald Bradman's Invincibles (a name given to the Australia national cricket team of that time). It was also the first Test series India played which was not against England. Australia won the five-match series 4–0, with Bradman tormenting the Indian bowling in his final Australian summer. India subsequently played their first Test series at home not against England against the West Indies in 1948. West Indies won the 5-Test series 1–0.
After winning the Test series against England in August 2007, Dravid stepped down as the captain of the team, following which Dhoni was made the captain of the Twenty20 and ODI team. In September 2007, India won the first-ever Twenty20 World Cup held in South Africa, beating Pakistan by 5 runs in the final. In 2007–08, they toured Australia where India lost the highly controversial home Test series 2–1 but managed to win the CB series the following month with a whitewash final of Australia.
The inter-war years were dominated by Australia's Don Bradman, statistically the greatest Test batsman of all time. Test cricket continued to expand during the 20th century with the addition of the West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930) and India (1932) before the Second World War and then Pakistan (1952), Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992), Bangladesh (2000), Ireland and Afghanistan (both 2018) in the post-war period. South Africa was banned from international cricket from 1970 to 1992 as part of the apartheid boycott.
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.
The game underwent major development in the 18th century to become England's national sport. Its success was underwritten by the twin necessities of patronage and betting. Cricket was prominent in London as early as 1707 and, in the middle years of the century, large crowds flocked to matches on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury. The single wicket form of the sport attracted huge crowds and wagers to match, its popularity peaking in the 1748 season. Bowling underwent an evolution around 1760 when bowlers began to pitch the ball instead of rolling or skimming it towards the batsman. This caused a revolution in bat design because, to deal with the bouncing ball, it was necessary to introduce the modern straight bat in place of the old "hockey stick" shape.
Ranji Trophy – Founded as the 'Cricket Championship of India' at a meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in July 1934. The first Ranji Trophy fixtures took place in the 1934–35 season. Syed Mohammed Hadi of Hyderabad was the first batsman to score a century in the tournament. The Trophy was donated by H.H. Sir Bhupendra Singh Mahinder Baha-dur, Maharajah of Patiala in memory of His late Highness Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of Nawanagar, affectionately called as Ranjitsinhji. In the main, the Ranji Trophy is composed of teams representing the states that make up India. The number of competing teams has increased over the years. Some states have more than one cricket team, e.g. Maharashtra and Gujarat. There are also teams for Railways and Services representing the armed forces. The various teams used to be grouped into zones – North, West, East, Central and South – and the initial matches were played on a league basis within the zones. The top two (until 1991–92) and then top three teams (subsequent years) from each zone then played in a national knock-out competition. Starting with the 2002–03 season, the zonal system has been abandoned and a two-division structure has been adopted with two teams being promoted from the plate league and two relegated from the elite league. If the knockout matches are not finished they are decided on the first-innings lead.
Before a match begins, the team captains (who are also players) toss a coin to decide which team will bat first and so take the first innings. Innings is the term used for each phase of play in the match. In each innings, one team bats, attempting to score runs, while the other team bowls and fields the ball, attempting to restrict the scoring and dismiss the batsmen. When the first innings ends, the teams change roles; there can be two to four innings depending upon the type of match. A match with four scheduled innings is played over three to five days; a match with two scheduled innings is usually completed in a single day. During an innings, all eleven members of the fielding team take the field, but usually only two members of the batting team are on the field at any given time. The exception to this is if a batsman has any type of illness or injury restricting his or her ability to run, in this case the batsman is allowed "A Runner" who can run between the wickets when the batsman hits a scoring run or runs. The order of batsmen is usually announced just before the match, but it can be varied.
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.
Single wicket was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and its matches were generally considered top-class. In this form, although each team may have from one to six players, there is only one batsman in at a time and he must face every delivery bowled while his innings lasts. Single wicket has rarely been played since limited overs cricket began. Matches tended to have two innings per team like a full first-class one and they could end in a draw.
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.
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.