Cricket is a bat-and-ball team sport that is first documented as being played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, cricket had developed to the point where 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 matches were being held. Today, the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), has 104 member countries. With its greatest popularity in the Test playing countries, cricket is the world's second most popular sport.
The rules of the game are known as the Laws of Cricket. These are maintained by the ICC and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which holds the copyright. A cricket match is played on a cricket field at the centre of which is a pitch. The match is contested between two teams of eleven players each. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible without being dismissed ("out") while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the other team’s batsmen and limit the runs being scored. When the batting team has used all its available overs or has no remaining batsmen, the roles become reversed and it is now the fielding team’s turn to bat and try to outscore the opposition.
There are several variations in the length of a game of cricket. In professional cricket this ranges from a limit of 20 overs per side (Twenty20) to a game played over 5 days (Test cricket). Depending on the form of the match being played, there are different rules that govern how a game is won, lost, drawn or tied.
Wikipedia [accessed 10 May 2010] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricket