Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch. The game is played by 120 million players in many countries, making it the world’s second most popular sport. Each team takes its turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. Each turn is known as an innings (used for both singular and plural).
The bowler delivers the ball to the batsman who attempts to hit the ball with his bat away from the fielders so he can run to the other end of the pitch and score a run. Each batsman continues batting until he is out. The batting team continues batting until ten batsmen are out, or a specified number of overs of six balls have been bowled, at which point the teams switch roles and the fielding team comes in to bat.
In professional cricket, the length of a game ranges from 20 overs per side to Test cricket played over five days. The Laws of Cricket are maintained by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) with additional Standard Playing Conditions for Test matches and One Day Internationals.
Cricket is generally believed to have been first played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, it had become the national sport of England. The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas and by the mid-19th century the first international match was held. ICC, the game’s governing body, has 10 full members. The game is most popular in Australasia, England, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies and Southern Africa.