Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. More than a hundred cricket-playing nations are recognised by the International Cricket Council. In the countries of South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, cricket is the most popular sport. It is also a major sport in England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, which are collectively known in cricketing parlance as the West Indies.
Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport contested by two teams, usually of eleven players each. A cricket match is played on a grass field, roughly oval in shape, in the centre of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards (20.12 m) long, called a pitch. At each end of the pitch is a construction of three parallel wooden stakes (known as stumps) driven vertically into the ground, with two small crosspieces (known as bails) laid across the top of them. This wooden structure is called a wicket.
The bowler, a player from the fielding team, hurls a hard, fist-sized, cork-centred, leather-covered ball from the vicinity of one wicket towards the other. The ball usually bounces once before reaching the batsman, a player from the opposing team. In defence of the wicket, the batsman plays the ball with a wooden cricket bat. Meanwhile, the other members of the bowler’s team stand in various positions around the field as fielders, players who retrieve the batted ball in an effort to stop the batsman scoring, and if possible to get him or her out.
The batsman, if he or she does not get out (for example if the bowled ball hits the wicket, or if a fielder catches the ball off the bat before it bounces), may run between the wickets, exchanging ends with a second batsman (the non-striker), who has been waiting near the bowler’s wicket. Each completed exchange of ends scores one run, and the match is won by the team that scores more runs…