Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on a roughly circular field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. Each team takes it in turn to bat, in which they attempt to accumulate as many runs as possible, while the other team fields, attempting to prevent the batting team scoring runs. Teams may bat once or twice each depending upon the format of the game. Each turn is known as an innings. The game progresses as one member of the fielding team known as the bowler delivers the ball to the batsman down the length of the pitch. The batsman then attempts to strike the ball with his bat so that the ball either reaches the boundary or travels far enough away from a fielder to enable him to run to the other end of the pitch and thus accumulate runs. Each batsman may continue batting until he is dismissed. Once ten batsmen from the batting side have been dismissed, the team is said to be all out and the two teams change roles. A person who plays cricket is called a cricketer.
In professional cricket the length of a game ranges from 20 overs of six bowling deliveries 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 was first played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, it had developed into 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 matches were being held. The 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.
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