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.〔(MCCthe official Laws of Cricket ). Retrieved 25 July 2009.〕
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.〔(CricketArchivefull list of ICC member countries ). Retrieved 25 July 2009.〕 The game is most popular in Australasia, England, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies and Southern Africa.
A number of words have been suggested as sources for the term "cricket". In the earliest definite reference to the sport in 1598 it is called ''creckett''.〔 quotes the precise date of the court case in Guildford as Monday, 17 January 1597 (Julian date), which is in the Gregorian year of 1598. Retrieved 31 January 2009.〕
One possible source for the name is the Old English ''cricc'' or ''cryce'' meaning a crutch or staff.〔Derek Birley, ''A Social History of English Cricket'', Aurum, 1999, p.3〕 In Samuel Johnson's ''Dictionary'', he derived cricket from "''cryce'', Saxon, a stick".〔Altham, p.21〕 In Old French, the word ''criquet'' seems to have meant a kind of club or stick.〔Derek Birley, ''A Social History of English Cricket'', Aurum, 1999〕
Given the strong medieval trade connections between south-east England and the County of Flanders when the latter belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, the name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch〔Middle Dutch was the language in use in Flanders at the time.〕 ''krick''(''-e''), meaning a stick (crook).〔
Another possible source is the Middle Dutch word ''krickstoel'', meaning a long low stool used for kneeling in church and which resembled the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket.〔Bowen, p.33〕
According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, "cricket" derives from the Middle Dutch phrase for hockey, ''met de (krik ket)sen'' (i.e., "with the stick chase").〔(David Terry, ''The Seventeenth Century Game of Cricket: A Reconstruction of the Game'' ). Retrieved 25 July 2009.〕 Dr Gillmeister believes that not only the name but the sport itself is of Flemish origin.〔Gillmeister's theory is summarised in the introduction to the book ''The Language of Cricket'' by John Eddowes, ISBN 1-85754-270-3.〕
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