The title of this blog alludes to a very popular bat and ball game. Err… Baseball? Nope. I’m referring to its English cousin, the other popular bat and ball game – Cricket.
Cricket has approximately 2.5 billion fans worldwide, making it the 2nd most popular sport in the world, right after Soccer. The countries playing Cricket internationally can be broadly divided into 2 groups: the ones which play Test Cricket, which is considered by purists to be the authentic form of Cricket, and the ones which don’t. The ones which play test Cricket are Full Members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), and currently, there are 10 such members. They include India, England, Australia, Sri Lanka, and so on. Mostly though, Cricket became popular in the nations that were former British colonies, with the notable exception of the USA.
The earliest definite reference to a Cricket game can be found in a court case in 1597, where a coroner by the name of John Derrick mentioned that he and his friends used to play ‘creckett’ 50 years ago, on a piece of land in Guildford, Surrey. This establishes that the first game of Cricket was certainly played in Surrey circa 1550, if not earlier.
It is believed that Cricket was growing in popularity in South-East England during the 17th century. The first Cricket club was founded in Hambledon in 1760, and it went on to become the most influential club, until 20 years later, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded. The MCC became a premier club, and a custodian of the rules of the game.
Cricket became even more popular by the mid-18th century, with people betting on the games, and soon these gamblers starting forming their own 11 member cricket teams to increase their chances of winning.
Cricket was introduced to places like North America, Canada, India, and Australia in h 17th and 18th centuries, because they were all English colonies at some point of time.
Conceptually, the objective of the game is standard across all its formats (more on that in a bit). There are 2 teams, each consisting of 11 players. Each team takes turns to bat. A coin toss decides which team bats first. One team will bat, while the other team will field. The batting team has to score as many runs as they can, while the fielding team has to prevent them from scoring. The team which scores more runs wins.
2 batsmen from the batting team will be out on the field to bat. They will be the ones scoring runs. They stand at both ends of the pitch. Batsmen can score runs by knocking the ball past the boundary, or by running between the pitch. When a ball goes directly past the boundary without coming in contact with the ground, the batsman has scored 6 runs. If the ball makes contact with the ground, or slides to the boundary, he has scored 4 runs. The players in the fielding team will either bowl or field at any point of time. Bowlers are the ones who hurl the ball at the batsmen in the hopes of dismissing him. A batsmen can be dismissed when the ball hits the wicket, or when a fielder intercepts the ball directly. They can also be dismissed if any part of his body prevents the ball from hitting the wicket.