Cricket, England’s summer sport, is played worldwide, especially in Australia, India, Pakistan, the West Indies, and the British Isles. Two 11-player teams play cricket. A 22-yard (20.12-metre) by 10-foot (3.04-metre) pitch runs through the oval field. Two wickets—three sticks—are at either end. Wickets have bails. Teams bat and bowl “innings” (always plural). Teams have one or two innings to score runs. Straight-arm bowlers break the wicket to remove the bails. Many ways can reject batsmen. After a “over,” a bowler bowls six balls to the opposite wicket. Batters defend.
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The striker, one of two batsmen, tries to knock the ball away from the wicket. Attacks or defenses. After a defensive strike, batsmen can’t run. Batsmen don’t run and play resumes with another bowl. If the batsman hits an aggressive stroke, he and the no striker at the other wicket trade places. Both batsmen reaching the other wicket scores runs. Batsmen can score runs by crossing wickets if they’re not caught. Cricket fields have boundaries. Balls that hit the ground and boundary score four points. Six points if it hits the boundary from the air (a fly ball). Most runs win match. The match is drawn if neither team complete their innings on time. Cricket produces hundreds.
Cricket matches can range from Sunday afternoon games on village greens to five-day Test matches played by elite professionals in large venues.
Cricket is thought to have started in the 13th century, when boys from the countryside would throw a ball at a tree stump or the hurdle gate into a sheep pen. This gate had two uprights with slots on top, and a crossbar that rested on the slots. The crossbar was called a bail, and the whole gate was called a wicket. This was better than the stump because the bail could fall off when the wicket was hit. Later, the stump name was given to the uprights of a hurdle. Early manuscripts disagree about the size of the wicket, which got a third stump in the 1770s, but by 1706, the pitch, which is the area between the wickets, was 22 yards long.
Since the 1600s, not much has changed about the ball, which was probably once a stone. In 1774, it was decided that its modern weight is between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (156 and 163 grams).
The first bat was probably a shaped branch of a tree. It was a lot longer and heavier than a modern hockey sticks. The change to a straight bat was made to protect against length bowling, which started in a small village in southern England called Hambledon. The handle of the bat was made shorter, and the blade was made straighter and wider. This made it easier to play forward, hit hard, and cut. During the 18th century, bowling wasn’t very advanced, so batting was more important than bowling.
The initial years:
In 1697, Sussex hosted a 50-guinea 11-a-side match. Kent and Surrey played the first recorded intercounty match in Dartford in 1709, and it is likely that a code of laws (rules) for the game existed at this time, but the earliest known form is from 1744. Cricket was limited to the southern counties of England in the early 18th century, but it extended to London, including the Artillery Ground, Finsbury, where Kent and All-England played in 1744. Matches had heavy betting and rowdy fans.
Before the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London, the Hambledon Club on Broadhalfpenny Down in Hampshire dominated cricket in the second half of the 18th century. In 1787, a cricket club from White Conduit Fields moved to Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. Marylebone borough and became the MCC, publishing its first amended code of statutes in 1788. Thomas Lord founded Lord’s, which has had three sites. Lord’s became world cricket’s headquarters in 1814 after moving to St. John’s Wood.
Cricket spread with the first North-South match in 1836. The All-England XI, founded by William Clarke of Nottingham, began touring the country in 1846, and from 1852, when some of the leading professionals (including John Wisden, who later wrote the first Wisden almanack on cricketing) seceded to form the United All-England XI, these two teams monopolized the best cricket talent until county cricket emerged. They furnished the 1859 English touring team.
Before the 19th century, all bowling was underhand, and most bowlers preferred the high-tossed lob. “The round-arm revolution” saw bowlers raise their ball release point. In 1835, the MCC changed the law to enable raising the hand to the shoulder. The new style boosted bowling speed. Bowlers gradually raised their hands above the law. An England team playing Surrey at London’s Kennington Oval abandoned the field in protest at a “no ball” call in 1862. The issue was whether the bowler could raise his arm over the shoulder. This issue allowed the bowler to bowl overhand in 1864. (but not to cock and straighten the arm). The game changed drastically, making it harder for batsmen to judge the ball.
Bowlers could run from any direction and distance before. The bowler could release overhand and reach velocities beyond 90 mph (145 km/hr). Though slower than baseball pitching, cricket balls are frequently sent to bounce on the pitch before the batsman can strike them. Thus, the ball may curve right or left, bounce low or high, or spin toward or away from the hitter.
Batters used padding and gloves, and a cane handle made the bat stronger. Because most pitches were in poor condition, only the finest hitters could handle rapid bowling. As grounds improved, batsmen adapted to the new bowling style and went on the offensive. Batsmen had to adapt to other new bowling styles.
England, Australia, and South Africa dominated early 20th-century international cricket. The International Cricket Conference, later the International Cricket Council, steadily took over more game management and changed its power base from west to east. In 2005, the ICC moved from Lord’s in London—home of the MCC, the game’s original rulers and still its lawmakers—to Dubai, marking the end of the traditional style of government. Game priorities changed. Only Australia and England played Test cricket to full houses in the 21st century. Limited-overs internationals were popular everywhere, especially in India and Pakistan. Test cricket almost disappeared.
The ICC’s Code of Conduct for players, officials, and administrators outlines disciplinary procedures and preserves the game’s ethos, although the MCC has the ability to amend the rules. It also organized the Champions Trophy, one-day and Twenty20 World Cups. The ICC established the Anti-Corruption Unit in 2000 to combat illegal gambling and match fixing. The ICC had 10 full members and dozens of associate and affiliate members in 2010.
Australia defeated England in the first Test match in Melbourne in 1877. After Australia triumphed again at the Oval in Kennington, London, in 1882, the Sporting Times published an obituary saying that English cricket would be buried and the ashes sent to Australia, introducing the “play for the Ashes.” The Ashes, maintained in an urn at Lord’s regardless of the winner, are said to be from a bail burned on England’s 1882–83 tour of Australia. The two nations met virtually annually throughout the 19th century. Despite having F.R. Spofforth, the greatest bowler of the age, and J.McC. Blackham, the first great wicketkeeper, England was often too powerful for Australia.
In 1907, South Africa played its first Test matches in England and against Australia, whose dominance between the World Wars was typified by Sir Don Bradman’s run scoring. With the advent of the West Indies in 1928, New Zealand in 1930, and India in 1932, the number of Test match countries increased.
The “bodyline” bowling methods used by the English team in 1932–33 in Australia strained relations. D.R. Jardine, the English captain, designed this technique of fast, short-pitched deliveries to the batsman’s body to knock him on the head or upper body or catch him out on the leg side (the side behind the striker when in a batting stance). The effort to limit Bradman’s scoring resulted in many catastrophic Australian team injuries. Australians strongly denounced the conduct as unsportsmanlike. England won 3–1, but Australia was furious for a long time. Post-series bodyline bowling was outlawed.
The similarities between India and Pakistan’s Asia Cup matches are uncanny
|Australia-Asia Cup 1985-86||Asia Cup 2014|
|Neutral Venue||Neutral Venue|
|Pakistan chooses to field first||Pakistan chooses to field first|
|India scores 245 runs||India scores 245 runs|
|K Srikkanth (Indian opener) hits 2 sixes||Rohit Sharma (Indian opener) hits 2 sixes|
|3 Indian batsmen score half centuries||3 Indian batsmen score half centuries|
|2 run-outs in Pakistan’s innings||2 run-outs in Pakistan’s innings|
|Pakistan’s 10th number batsman, Zulqamain bowled by C Sharma on the 1st ball||Pakistan’s 10th number batsman, Ajmal bowled by R Ashwin on the 1st ball|
|Pakistan’s 11th number batsman Tauseef took the required single to give the strike to Miandad||Pakistan’s 11th number batsman Junaid took the required single to give the strike to Afridi|
|C Sharma takes 3 wickets and bowls the last over||R Ashwin takes 3 wickets and bowls the last over|
|Match ends in the final over||Match ends in the final over|
|Javed Miandad hits a 6 to win the game||Shahid Afridi hits a 6 to win the game|
|Miandad hits 3 sixes in total in the innings||Afridi hits 3 sixes in total in the innings|
|Pakistan wins the match with just 1 wicket in hand||Pakistan wins the match with just 1 wicket in hand|