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.
There are various formats ranging from Twenty20, played over a few hours with each team batting for a single innings of 20 overs, to Test matches, played over five days with unlimited overs and the teams each batting for two innings of unlimited length. Traditionally cricketers play in all-white kit, but in limited overs cricket they wear club or team colours. In addition to the basic kit, some players wear protective gear to prevent injury caused by the ball, which is a hard, solid spheroid made of compressed leather with a slightly raised sewn seam enclosing a cork core which is layered with tightly wound string.
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.
Eden Gardens in Kolkata has hosted the most Tests, and also has the second-largest seating capacity of any cricket stadium in the world, being capable of holding more than 66,000 spectators. Founded in 1864, it is one of the most historical stadiums in India, having hosted numerous historical and controversial matches. Other major stadiums in India include the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, which was established in 1883 and hosted memorable matches including Anil Kumble's ten wickets in an innings haul against Pakistan. For the last two years, the ground has been undergoing renovation.
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.
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
The domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. In addition, the BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition, which is also one of the biggest sports leagues in the world and the biggest cricket league in the world. The Indian cricket team is also accredited with the honour of winning all the ICC tournaments under M.S. Dhoni's captaincy, which is a world record. While cricket is by far the most popular sport in the country it is not the country's national sport since India has no national sport.
India failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup yet again in 2014. In the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 hosted in Bangladesh, India narrowly missed out on another ICC trophy by losing to Sri Lanka in the final. This tournament saw the rise of Virat Kohli as one of the best limited overs batsmen in world cricket, as he was adjudged the man of the series. India soon comprehensively beat Sri Lanka and West Indies in ODI series to cement their position at the top of the ODI rankings. India toured Australia towards the end of 2014 for a 4-match Test series, which is remembered for MS Dhoni's sudden retirement from Test cricket after the end of the second Test. Virat Kohli was appointed as the captain of Team India in Test matches but he was unable to turn the series around and India lost 2–0. Kohli's first series win as captain came away from home in a 3-match Test series vs Sri Lanka, which signalled the beginning of an unbeaten Test series run for India.
The British brought cricket to India in the early 1700s, with the first cricket match played in 1721. In 1848, the Parsi community in Bombay formed the Oriental Cricket Club, the first cricket club to be established by Indians. After slow beginnings, the Europeans eventually invited the Parsis to play a match in 1877. By 1912, the Parsis, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims of Bombay played a quadrangular tournament with the Europeans every year. In the early 1900s, some Indians went on to play for the England cricket team. Some of these, such as Ranjitsinhji and KS Duleepsinhji were greatly appreciated by the British and their names went on to be used for the Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy – two major first-class tournaments in India. In 1911, an Indian team went on their first official tour of the British Isles, but only played English county teams and not the England cricket team.
One possible source for the sport's name is the Old English word "cryce" (or "cricc") meaning a crutch or staff. In Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, he derived cricket from "cryce, Saxon, a stick". In Old French, the word "criquet" seems to have meant a kind of club or stick. Given the strong medieval trade connections between south-east England and the County of Flanders when the latter belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, the name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch (in use in Flanders at the time) "krick"(-e), meaning a stick (crook). Another possible source is the Middle Dutch word "krickstoel", meaning a long low stool used for kneeling in church and which resembled the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket. According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, "cricket" derives from the Middle Dutch phrase for hockey, met de (krik ket)sen (i.e., "with the stick chase"). Gillmeister has suggested that not only the name but also the sport itself may be of Flemish origin.
Ganguly became the regular captain of the team in both Tests and ODIs in 2000. He remained captain until 2005–06 and became the then most successful Indian captain, winning 21 of his 49 Test matches in charge and 76 of his 146 ODIs. Under his captaincy, India became the joint-winners of the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka, and the runners-up of the 2003 Cricket World Cup. India lost only three Tests at home under Ganguly and managed to draw Test series in England and Australia. Rahul Dravid took over as Test captain in 2005. In 2006, he led India to its first Test series victory in the West Indies in more than 30 years.
Off the field in televised matches, there is usually a third umpire who can make decisions on certain incidents with the aid of video evidence. The third umpire is mandatory under the playing conditions for Test and Limited Overs International matches played between two ICC full member countries. These matches also have a match referee whose job is to ensure that play is within the Laws and the spirit of the game.
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.
Sunil Gavaskar took over as Test and ODI captain in 1978–79, leading India in 47 Test matches and 37 ODIs, winning 9 Tests and 14 ODIs. He was succeeded by Kapil Dev in the 1980s, who captained for 34 Test matches, including 4 victories. Kapil Dev led India to victory in 39 of his 74 ODIs in charge, including the 1983 Cricket World Cup. Kapil Dev also captained India's 2–0 Test series victory in England in 1986. Between 1987–88 and 1989–90, India had three captains in Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Krishnamachari Srikkanth. Vengsarkar took over the captaincy from Kapil Dev after the 1987 Cricket World Cup. Although he started with two centuries in his first series as captain, his captaincy period was turbulent and he lost the job following a disastrous tour of the West Indies in early-1989 and a stand-off with the Indian cricket board (BCCI).
NKP Salve Challenger Trophy – Started as the Challenger series by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1994–95 and later named as NKP Salve Challenger Trophy in 1998–99. This tournament featured 3 teams: India senior, India A and India B playing each other in a round robin format. They were later renamed India Blue, India Red and India Green respectively. The tournament featured the top 36 players from across India. It was last contested in 2013–14.