Cricket is a multi-faceted sport with multiple formats that can effectively be divided into first-class cricket, limited overs cricket and, historically, single wicket cricket. The highest standard is Test cricket (always written with a capital "T") which is in effect the international version of first-class cricket and is restricted to teams representing the twelve countries that are full members of the ICC (see above). Although the term "Test match" was not coined until much later, Test cricket is deemed to have begun with two matches between Australia and England in the 1876–77 Australian season; since 1882, most Test series between England and Australia have been played for a trophy known as The Ashes. The term "first-class", in general usage, is applied to top-level domestic cricket. Test matches are played over five days and first-class over three to four days; in all of these matches, the teams are allotted two innings each and the draw is a valid result.[119]

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played on a cricket field (see image, right) between two teams of eleven players each.[58] 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.[59]


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.[40] The most successful club has been Yorkshire, who had won 32 official titles (plus one shared) as of 2019.[123]
There are numerous world-renowned cricket stadiums located in India. Most grounds are under the administration of various state cricket boards as opposed to being under the control of the BCCI. The Bombay Gymkhana was the first ground in India to host a full-scale cricket match featuring an Indian cricket team. This was between the Parsis and the Europeans in 1877. The first stadium to host a Test match in India was also the Gymkhana Ground in Bombay in 1933, the only Test it ever hosted. The second and third Tests in the 1933 series were hosted at Eden Gardens and Chepauk. The Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in Delhi was the first stadium to host a Test match after independence, a draw against the West Indies in 1948, the first of a 5-Test series. 21 stadiums in India have hosted at least one official Test match. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of world-class cricket stadiums in India, with multiple Test venues in Indore, Chandigarh Mohali, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Rajkot, Ranchi, Pune, Dharamshala and Nagpur.

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.[49][50] South Africa was banned from international cricket from 1970 to 1992 as part of the apartheid boycott.[51]
The 19th century saw underarm bowling superseded by first roundarm and then overarm bowling. Both developments were controversial.[38] Organisation of the game at county level led to the creation of the county clubs, starting with Sussex in 1839.[39] In December 1889, the eight leading county clubs formed the official County Championship, which began in 1890.[40]
According to the social historian Derek Birley, there was a "great upsurge of sport after the Restoration" in 1660.[23] 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.[23] Along with prizefighting, horse racing and blood sports, cricket was perceived to be a gambling sport.[24] Rich patrons made matches for high stakes, forming teams in which they engaged the first professional players.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27][28]
Cricket is one of many games in the "club ball" sphere that basically involve hitting a ball with a hand-held implement; others include baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis.[2] In cricket's case, a key difference is the existence of a solid target structure, the wicket (originally, it is thought, a "wicket gate" through which sheep were herded), that the batsman must defend.[3] The cricket historian Harry Altham identified three "groups" of "club ball" games: the "hockey group", in which the ball is driven to and fro between two targets (the goals); the "golf group", in which the ball is driven towards an undefended target (the hole); and the "cricket group", in which "the ball is aimed at a mark (the wicket) and driven away from it".[4]
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.[131] 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 .[132] 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.[132] 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[133]

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.[33] 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.
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.
The next year saw mixed results in Tests for India: they lost away series in both South Africa and England, but won their away series against Australia, the first time they had won a series there. In home Tests, they defeated West Indies. They won the ODI leg of the South African tour, followed by the tri-series with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. They lost 2–1 in the ODI series in England, followed by a win at home to West Indies and away to both Australia and New Zealand. At the start of 2019, Australia won a T20I series 2–0, representing Virat Kohli's first home defeat in a T20I series.
Cricket is a multi-faceted sport with multiple formats that can effectively be divided into first-class cricket, limited overs cricket and, historically, single wicket cricket. The highest standard is Test cricket (always written with a capital "T") which is in effect the international version of first-class cricket and is restricted to teams representing the twelve countries that are full members of the ICC (see above). Although the term "Test match" was not coined until much later, Test cricket is deemed to have begun with two matches between Australia and England in the 1876–77 Australian season; since 1882, most Test series between England and Australia have been played for a trophy known as The Ashes. The term "first-class", in general usage, is applied to top-level domestic cricket. Test matches are played over five days and first-class over three to four days; in all of these matches, the teams are allotted two innings each and the draw is a valid result.[119]
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