From Encyc

Cricket is either a small insect or else one of the 5 most popular sports in the world (possibly the 2nd most popular sport behind soccer), owing mainly to its extreme popularity in India (the second largest country in the world, with 1/6th of the world's population) and the sub-continent as a whole. It is the most popular sport that is not contested at the Olympic Games. It is only played to an elite level in eight countries - Australia, South Africa, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies (an amalgamation of several countries in the Caribbean Sea, including Jamaica and Barbados) and New Zealand. Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Kenya also have teams which are sometimes regarded as elite but they are not competitive with the top eight teams. In cricket's early days, both the USA and Canada played cricket seriously, prior to the invention of baseball.

What is cricket?[edit]

Cricket is a game which has a bat, a ball and wickets. Players are split into 2 teams: one who is fielding and one who are batting. At any point in time, there are only 2 people batting (although in some variations there can be only 1 person batting) and 1 person bowling. The entire fielding side is on the field at the same time (in some variations, especially social variations, everyone who is not currently batting is a fielder).

Each game is split up into innings. An innings ends when either all but 1 of the batsmen are out, if the batting side declares their innings closed (due to time limits) or when they have run out of time (for example, 20 overs have been bowled). Games will have either 1 innings per side or else 2 innings per side. In games with 1 innings per side, the winner is the team who has scored the most runs. In games with 2 innings per side, the winner is the side who has overall scored the most runs with the combination of their 2 innings.

Cricket is based on the game of rounders, which was also the basis of the games of baseball, softball, t-ball and a wide variety of similar sports. Baseball and cricket therefore can be considered to be "cousins". The game of cricket has existed for longer than baseball and is more popular than baseball worldwide. However, due primarily to its popularity in USA, baseball has more money involved than cricket (although recent innovations such as ICL and IPL are changing this). Baseball was also a sport in the Olympic Games until 2008, while cricket was only ever once in the Olympics. Cricket is played at a serious level in more countries than baseball is. In countries which support cricket, they also play baseball, usually only at a junior level as practice for when they learn how to play cricket properly. Cricket is a more complicated game than baseball and uses more different skills.

(Note: It is a lot easier to understand cricket if you already understand baseball. See this explanation for what cricket is in baseball terms. Cricket is, put simply, a more complicated version of baseball. Anyone who understands cricket can easily understand baseball, and anyone who understands baseball is in a much better position to understand cricket).

Major serious international variations of cricket[edit]

At a serious international level there are currently 3 main formats of cricket, plus indoor cricket which is in many ways a completely different game. A wide variety of other formats exist that are played in a less serious form. The 3 main formats are:

Test cricket[edit]

Test cricket is considered to be the elite level of cricket and has existed since 1870. Only the best cricketing countries in the world are permitted to play in test matches.

Test matches last for a maximum of 5 days, each day being split into 3 x 2 hour sessions, with 30 6-ball overs to be bowled in each session. 11 players play in each side, and an innings ends when 10 of the 11 players are out. Teams get 2 innings per side. A team can declare an innings closed at any stage, usually because otherwise they would run out of time, although sometimes to take advantage of conditions.

The team of 11 has a nominated wicket keeper (who can be changed throughout the match, although usually the same player stays for the whole match), and at any stage there is a bowler who bowls at the batsman. If the batsman hits the ball then they may attempt to run. They can also attempt to run if they miss the ball or if it hits their body somewhere. The batsmen need to get to the other end of the pitch before the wickets are broken by the fielding side with the ball in their hand. If they do not get to the wickets in time then they are run out.

Players can be out in the following ways:

  • Bowled - if the ball hits the wickets, either directly, or from the batsman's bat or any part of his body.
  • Caught - if any fielder, including the bowler, catches the ball on the full.
  • Run out - if a player attempts a run but fails to get to their crease in time.
  • Leg before wicket - if, in the opinion of the umpire, the ball would have hit the stumps but it hits the batsman's leg (or their body).
  • Stumped - the same as run out, but they are run out by the wicket keeper before the batsman has attempted a run.

Less common dismissal types include:

  • Handled ball - if a batsman uses their hand to try to stop the ball from hitting the wickets.
  • Obstructing the field - if a batsman deliberately stops a fielder from either catching the ball or attempting a run out.
  • Hit the ball twice - hitting the ball up in the air so that you can have a 2nd more powerful hit (note: nobody has ever been out in this way in test cricket).
  • Timed Out - if a player does not get out to the middle of the field within (about) 10 minutes, they can be out timed out (note: nobody has ever been out in this way in test cricket).

In some cases, a ball is not considered to be legal and must be rebowled. This can be for one of the following ways:

  • Wide - if a ball is too far away from the batsman such that, in the opinion of the umpire, the batsman could not hit it. An extra run is given to the batting side and the bowler must re-bowl the ball.
  • No-ball - if the bowler steps over their crease in bowling. An extra run is given to the batting side and the bowler must re-bowl the ball. A batsman can hit the ball and they cannot be out caught, bowled or leg before wicket off a no ball (but they can be out run out, stumped or any of the unusual dismissal types). A ball is also a no-ball if it is a "bouncer" (bouncing too high) or a "beamer" (bowled on the full above waist high).
  • Dead ball - a ball is a dead ball for a variety of reasons, including if the bowler fails to let go of the ball, the bowler hits the wickets with their feet or hands, or if the ball hits the batsman's body while they were not trying to hit it. Unlike a wide or no ball, a dead ball does not give an extra run to the batting side, although the ball must be re-bowled.

A typical average score in test cricket is about 300 runs per innings, or 600 runs for each team for the match (1200 runs total). A typical average run rate is about 3 runs per over. About half of all test matches end in a draw, often due to rain. The highest ever score in an innings is just under 1,000 runs. Test matches have finished in 2 days, and, especially when worse teams (such as Bangladesh or Zimbabwe) are playing, many matches have ended within 3 days. Originally, test cricket did not have a time limit, and was just played until 2 innings were completed for each side.

Most serious cricket (first class cricket, grade cricket, and even school cricket) is based on test cricket that leads up to this. The best players in grade cricket represent their area in first class cricket while the best players in first class cricket represent their country in test cricket. Grade cricket is usually played at various grades - the best being 1st grade, then going down to sometimes 5th or 6th grade cricket, depending on ability. The better the player performs, the higher grade they get to compete in. Someone who has never played serious cricket before can start at the lower grades then work their way up. Sometimes a particularly good cricketer can go straight from school cricket to first class cricket or even test cricket, especially if they represent their country at an under 19 level. Sachin Tendulkar first played test cricket for India at the age of 16.

One-day cricket (also called 50 over cricket)[edit]

One-day cricket first began in 1970 when a test match was reduced to 1 day due to rain. Both teams agreed to play an exhibition game of 50 overs per side. The idea was so popular that it led to a World Cup in 1975 and later Australian businessman Kerry Packer introduced the World Series, in which he paid players from around the world much more money than usual to play this sport. Until the creation of Twenty/20 cricket, one day cricket was by far the most popular type of cricket.

Whilst test cricket is only played by the 10 elite countries, a larger group of countries are permitted to play one day cricket. These include Zimbabwe (who at various stages have not been allowed to play test cricket), Kenya, and on some occasions additional countries including Holland, Canada, USA, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Scotland, Bermuda and several other countries. Other than the elite test countries, other countries must qualify in order to have a match that they play be regarded officially as an international one day match.

One day cricket differs from test cricket in the following main ways:

  • Each team has only 1 innings per side, instead of 2 innings each.
  • Each innings has a maximum of 50 overs per side (or less if they are bowled out, or if the match is reduced due to rain).
  • The team wins if they have scored more runs in their 50 overs (if batting 2nd, once you have scored more runs than the other team, you have won, and do not need to keep playing).
  • Each bowler has a maximum of 10 overs each (or 1/5 of the total overs if the maximum overs is reduced by rain).
  • In each "Power Play" over, fielders are restricted to only 1 fielder outside of the inner circle.
  • In any non-"Power Play" over, fielders are restricted to only 4 fielders outside of the inner circle (in test cricket, there are no fielding restrictions at all).
  • A ball is considered to be wide much more often than in a test match, especially down the leg side.

One-day cricket has been surpassed in popularity by Twenty/20 cricket.

A typical one-day match (when there is no rain and 50 overs can be completed) has a score of about 250 runs each at a run rate of 5 runs per over.

If rain is interrupted, the match can be reduced down to as little as 20 overs each, where scores are changed based on a complex formula called the "Duckworth-Lewis method".

Most first class and grade cricket have a one-day option based on this. Junior (school) cricket often has less overs per side, often as little as 20 overs per side or less.

Twenty/20 cricket (in South Africa, it is called Pro 20 cricket)[edit]

Twenty/20 cricket was first invented in England in 2003 as one of many varieties of cricket attempted (following the Hong Kong Sixes, Double Wicket Cricket, and a variety of other versions), which, unlike the other varieties, made far fewer changes to the standard way to play cricket. There would still be 11 players per side, and quite simply there would be 20 overs per side instead of 50 for one-day cricket.

Twenty/20 cricket made the following changes as compared to one-day cricket:

  • Each team had a maximum of 20 overs per side instead of 50 overs.
  • When a player was out, new players had only 2 minutes to get out to the middle or else be out "timed out".
  • All batsmen sit in a "dugout" (similar to baseball) next to the ground, rather than hidden away in a dressing room, and must sit there until it is their turn to bat.
  • If a no-ball is bowled, the next ball is a "free hit", meaning that the batsman cannot be out off the free hit ball.
  • No-balls and wides are worth 2 runs instead of 1 run.
  • There are no "Power Plays".
  • The same fielding restrictions exist for the entire match.

Following its success in England, Twenty/20 cricket was also adopted in South Africa, who called it Pro 20 cricket (South Africa is the only place that calls it Pro 20 - every other country calls it Twenty/20). It was then adopted in the West Indies, where Texan (American) billionaire Allen Stanford created "Stanford 20/20" and invested millions of dollars to make West Indian cricket more popular, also aiming to bring cricket to USA (the Stanford 20/20 for $20 million was shown live throughout USA through ESPN). Later, India created first the ICL and then the IPL, both of which had player auctions and offered up to and exceeding US $1 million for a player for playing one tournament (of note, the ICL was not supported by India's board). Whilst Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and other countries have local 20/20 competitions, they have not been as important or as popular as those in England, South Africa, West Indies and India.

Twenty/20 is yet to have a major place in serious international cricket, although it is very popular at a local level. Because it lasts for only 2 hours, instead of 8 hours for 1-day cricket or 5 days worth of 7 hours per day (6 hours playing, 1 hour of breaks), Twenty/20 cricket is roughly the same duration as a soccer or baseball match or a variety of other sports. Most sports played at a serious international level last about 2 hours or so. In England, soccer (called football in England and in most of the world) is far more popular than cricket, so making it 2 hours duration made it more attractive to English spectators. In South Africa, rugby is more popular than cricket, and again having the duration about the same length as rugby made it more popular. In India, cricket was already the most popular sport, but one-day cricket in India is much more popular than test cricket, so having it shorter still has made cricket even more popular - especially with their ultra-professional and very rich ICL and IPL leagues. Twenty/20 cricket is seen by many as a way to have cricket played at the Olympic Games and to be adopted by USA. However, no country plays both baseball and cricket seriously, and it is believed by many that USA will never adopt cricket seriously while they play baseball seriously, because the same kind of people would be good at both sports and because in essence they are similar sports.

The first Twenty/20 World Cup was won by India. At present, the same rules for which countries get to play international one-day cricket also apply for international Twenty/20 cricket.

A typical Twenty/20 match has a score of about 160 runs per side (8 runs per over).

Most first class competitions now have a Twenty/20 component, although grade cricket competitions do not often have this 3rd option. Junior (school) cricket usually only plays 20 overs per side as they will often play after school from (e.g.) 4pm - 6pm, although they would normally have test cricket rules rather than Twenty/20 rules. Junior (school) cricket that is played on a weekend may have 100 overs bowled over the course of a day, and points are given depending on how many wickets each team gets or how many runs. In this case, they may have only 1 innings played, by just 1 team with the other team not batting at all, or they may have 3 innings each, depending on how things go. Junior cricket can vary a lot on how they work things out, sometimes even playing the same game over the course of 2 different weekends. Just the same, the Twenty/20 idea was in many ways based on the 20 over variation of junior cricket which would be played after school, perhaps as part of a sports carnival where different "houses" play against each other.

Indoor cricket[edit]

Indoor cricket is completely different to regular cricket, has its own league and a completely different set of countries are good at it. It is not supported anywhere near as much as regular cricket, although it is very popular at a social level. Many indoor cricket centres exist, often next to tenpin bowling centres (or in the same facility). Sometimes they share the same area as an indoor netball or indoor basketball centre.

Structure of indoor cricket:

  • 8 players per side.
  • Each player (including the wicket keeper) bowls 2 x 8 ball overs each.
  • When the wicket keeper is bowling, someone else becomes the wicket keeper.
  • Players bat 2 players at a time for a total of 4 overs each.
  • If you are out then you lose 5 runs and keep playing.
  • There are a total of 16 x 8 ball overs.
  • Teams bat for the entire 16 overs, even if they have passed the opposition's score.
  • Players can be out caught off the net.

Indoor cricket is played in small areas about the same size as a basketball court (and sometimes the same area is also used to play basketball), completely enclosed in netting. They bowl with a yellow spongy ball, which doesn't hurt as much as a regular cricket ball. The area between the wickets is much smaller than usual.

Indoor cricket is played at an international level and is roughly equally as popular as tenpin bowling. Tenpin bowling and indoor cricket, as mentioned above, are often played in the same centre.

Indoor cricket is commonly played in mixed gender competitions (except for serious international and state level) as women are roughly equally as capable of playing indoor cricket as men are (whilst in regular cricket the difference is enormous due to strength/size etc). Indoor cricket, unlike regular cricket, is roughly equally as popular amongst men and women.

On a world stage, indoor cricket is about 10-20 times less popular than regular cricket.

Social cricket variations[edit]

A wide variety of versions of cricket are played throughout the world, many of which are important as stepping stones towards more serious cricket. 8 year old children obviously do not play 2 innings per side over 5 days versions of cricket. Children playing together at a park do not have 11 players to play on each side. As such, there are a wide variety of other variations of cricket, the most well known variations of which are:

French cricket[edit]

French cricket quite simply has 1 bat and 1 ball (usually a tennis ball) and can be played with as few as 2 people - a bowler and a batsman. There are no wickets involved, as your legs are wickets. French cricket can be played with as many people as you like, although more than 6 is unusual.

Rules of French cricket:

  • A bowler must bowl underarm only.
  • They must bowl the ball from further away than what the batsman could hit with their bat at full stretch (partially to avoid injury to the bowler).
  • The batsman must have their 2 legs touching each other all the way up, ankles together, standing up straight.
  • If the batsman fails to hit the ball, they may not move their legs.
  • The bowler must bowl the ball from where it lands (either when hit, or where it lands after it is last bowled).
  • Whichever fielder gets the ball is the new bowler.
  • Whoever either catches the ball or else hits the batsman on his legs gets to be the new batsman.

How you can be out in French cricket:

  • Caught - one hand one bounce is generally considered to be okay, at least with only 2 or 3 players.
  • 6 and out - if you hit it over the fence, or the ball is lost, you are generally out.
  • Bowled - if it hits your legs, you are out.
  • Moved your legs without hitting the ball - if you move your legs then that is cheating and you are out.
  • Hit the bowler - if your bat hits the bowler (especially in the face), then you are out.

French cricket is often played by small children and is especially popular for girls. Many girls insist on only playing French cricket, or perhaps Barbecue cricket.

Backyard cricket[edit]

Backyard cricket is generally played in your backyard, with as many people as can fit in your backyard, usually between 3 and 10. Whilst this is generally a sociable thing often played by children (although adults also often play it at parties), there is also such a thing as "International Backyard cricket", although even this is not very serious.

Rules for backyard cricket are decided upon by whoever is playing on the day. There are some general rules, which include:

  • One hand one bounce - it is okay to catch someone if the ball bounces once, so long as you catch it with one hand.
  • 6 and out - if it goes over your neighbour's fence or otherwise the ball gets lost, then you are out.
  • Off the wall can still be caught
  • If the dog/tree/clothesline catches it, you are out
  • LBW below the knee - if it hits you below the knee, no matter where you are, that is out.
  • Automatic wicket keeper - if it hits the back fence behind the wickets, it is assumed that a wicket keeper would have caught it and you are out.
  • Electric wickets - If a fielder hits the wickets at either end and you were out of your ground then you are out.
  • Tippie goes - If you hit it, you must run
  • Whoever gets you out bats next - although sometimes they just make sure that everyone bats
  • Can't be out first ball

Backyard cricket is usually played by children aged 5-15 or so, although some adults also play it at parties at someone's house. It is very big socially in countries which love cricket and is especially popular in Australia and New Zealand. It is a way that children are introduced to cricket.

Beach cricket[edit]

Beach cricket, as the name suggests, is played on the beach. It is generally just a social game, although there have been "International Beach cricket", although even that was not particularly serious. International Beach cricket was, however, shown on international TV. Beach cricket is especially popular in the West Indies, although it has a degree of popularity also in Australia and other countries who love cricket. Beach cricket usually has a minimum of 5 players but can go up to 20 or 30 or as many as are there.

Rules for beach cricket are decided upon by whoever is playing on the day. There are some general rules, which include:

  • In the sea is out - although some people think that that is 4 runs instead.
  • If it hits someone who isn't playing, it is out

Otherwise, much the same rules as per backyard cricket, except that you usually have a wicket keeper hence no automatic wicket keeper is required, and also no 6 and out.

Unlike backyard cricket, which is usually played with individuals batting, beach cricket can be played in teams.

Beach cricket is a very social activity. Often if people are playing beach cricket, people who they have never met before can walk up to them and ask to join in, which is usually accepted. You can start playing beach cricket with just 2 families of 5 or 6 people total and end up with half the beach playing, with 20, 30 or more people all involved. Special rules are usually made for women and children, who can bowl underarm, can bowl from closer, and are allowed to throw the ball instead of bowling properly, while bowlers bowling to women and children are generally bowling a bit easier to hit balls.

Barbecue cricket[edit]

A barbecue is often seen as the ideal setting for playing cricket. A number of families, or one extended family, goes to a park, cooks some sausages, and then someone brings out a cricket set and everyone plays. This is in many ways superior to beach cricket because the ball bounces more easily and there is no sea to worry about. Other families who are at the park independently usually either join in or else move a bit further away. There is no need for a "6 and out" rule, as it is usually either impossible or else very difficult to hit it so far that the ball is lost. Barbecue cricket is usually played while drinking beer (for guys) and even while eating.

Barbecue cricket has a big cultural setting in Australia and New Zealand especially, although it is also played in South Africa and England and in other countries which love cricket. India and the sub continent play their own version of barbecue cricket, but call it "Park cricket", which can be a bit more serious.

Barbecue cricket is not usually played in teams, as everyone who is not batting is a fielder.

Less common varieties[edit]

While One-Day cricket, Twenty/20 and indoor cricket became popular as alternatives to regular cricket, a number of other varieties have been tried which have not been particularly popular. Some of the more important variations are as follows:

Hong Kong Sixes[edit]

Hong Kong, who are not in the elite level of cricketing countries, invented a 6-a-side version of cricket which they hoped would make cricket more popular in Hong Kong. Whilst international cricketers do often play in the annual Hong Kong Sixes tournament, they are usually either players who have retired or else are not regulars in the national side. Occasionally, however, major international cricketers play. Hong Kong enters their own side in the competition and other sides often include Australia, Pakistan, England, India, West Indies and a World Side, in addition to Hong Kong.

Rules of Hong Kong Sixes:

  • There are 6 players per side (as opposed to 11).
  • There are 5 x 6 ball overs per innings.
  • Each team bats for 1 innings each, the winner being whoever scored the most runs.
  • A team is all out when all 6 batsmen are out. If 5 wickets are out, the last batsman bats by themselves in a "last man standing" way.
  • A batsman is forced to retire once they have scored 30 runs (although they can return if all other batsmen get out).
  • All players aside from the wicket keeper must bowl 1 x 6 ball over, for 5 overs total.

The ground that they play on in Hong Kong is especially small, such that you don't have to hit it particularly far to hit a 6. As such, a large amount of 6s are hit in an innings, usually at least 1 per over in an innings. A typical 5 over score is 100 runs (20 runs per over, more than 3 runs per ball). The small ground also mean that having 1 bowler, 1 wicket keeper plus only 4 other fielders is generally enough to cover where the ball is likely to go.

A game typically lasts about 30 minutes for the entire game, much shorter than even the Twenty/20 variation (which lasts for about 2 hours).

The final of the series has 5 x 8 ball overs, hence meaning that the game lasts a bit longer and there are even higher scores.

Whilst the game is televised internationally and has some degree of support, it is not considered to be a major tournament.

Double Wicket Cricket[edit]

In "Double Wicket Cricket", a player can be out twice before they are really out, but otherwise with much the same rules as before. Games were generally played over less overs than normal, with about 20 overs per side. This variation pre-dates Twenty/20 cricket, but was never particularly popular. New Zealand tried to popularise it but it never really took off.

Double points cricket[edit]

New Zealand also tried out a type of cricket in which there were areas of the field that were worth double points. In other words, if you hit a 6 to a particular part of the ground, it was worth 12 instead of 6. Similarly, if you hit a 4 to that area, it was worth 8. This version also pre-dates Twenty/20 cricket, but was never particularly popular.

Origins of cricket[edit]

Cricket is based on rounders, which in turn led to the creation of baseball, softball, t-ball and a number of similar sports. There is a major dispute as to whether the game of cricket was invented by England or India/Pakistan (in that version, the area that invented cricket is on the boundary between Pakistan and India). Given that cricket is most popular (in terms of percentage of people who support it) in India, and given that Indian cricket supporters represent over 1/2 of the population of cricket supporters, the variation in which India/Pakistan invented cricket has gained a lot of momentum.

Cricket in England began first with bowlers bowling the ball along the ground, as you do with bowls or tenpin bowling, and the batsman had a bat that was curved like a hockey stick. Bowlers were only allowed to bowl underarm and the LBW rule did not exist.

Cricket developed over time such that the ball was eventually allowed to bounce and bowlers were eventually allowed to bowl roundarm and then eventually overarm. Today, underarm bowling is not allowed in serious cricket and a bat is straight and solid without any curves. Today the ball must bounce once (if it bounces twice then it is a no-ball), or else be bowled on the full (but not above waist high). The LBW rule was also added because too many batsmen were just putting their legs in front of the wickets, meaning that they couldn't be out bowled, which became rather boring.

In its early days, cricket was brought from England to all of their colonies (which is why cricket is most popular in countries that are former English colonies). In its early days, aside from England, cricket was most popular in USA and Canada. The first international matches were played between USA and Canada. Later, USA discovered baseball and largely abandoned cricket in favour of baseball. Holland also adopted cricket in its early days, before Australia became the first country that was able to play cricket as well as England could. Australia also became the first country to regularly beat England.

Over time, any country that could beat England regularly was given "test status". The first such country was Australia, then followed by South Africa, West Indies (an amalgamation of several countries in the Caribbean Sea), India, New Zealand, Pakistan (after they split from India), Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. South Africa were banned from playing test cricket during apartheid. Zimbabwe were also banned from playing test cricket (although they were allowed to play one day cricket) during the Robert Mugabe era, although the stated reason was because their sides were not competitive. Kenya were for many years given regular one day status, although they are yet to be given test status. In women's cricket, Ireland have test status as well, while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe do not (Pakistan and West Indies are very weak in women's cricket).

Throughout history, the 2 best sides have been England and Australia, although throughout the 1970s and 1980s West Indies was the best side in the world and in the late 1960s (just prior to apartheid) South Africa were the best side. Since returning from the apartheid ban, South Africa have regularly been either the best or 2nd best side in the world behind Australia (usually 2nd). Overall, Australia has been the best side in the world in cricket's history as a whole. Australia has been ranked number 1 in the world in cricket regularly since West Indies stopped being the top side in the early 1990s, often by a large margin. In women's cricket, Australia has usually been the best side. Australia have also usually been the best side in indoor cricket. There is no clear best side in Twenty/20 cricket, although India won the first Twenty/20 world cup. In 2010, Australia lost their number 1 ranking in test and ODI rankings, with initially South Africa becoming the top side in both versions before Australia reclaimed the number 1 ODI ranking and India became the top test ranking. As of mid 2010, there are 4 or 5 sides that are very similar and there is no clear best side in any version of the game.

Popularity of cricket in its main countries[edit]

Cricket, as a whole, is preferred as a sport by about 1.5 billion people, or roughly 1/4 of the world's population. This makes it one of the 5 most loved sports, although it is probably behind soccer (known in most of the world as football) as a sport. Cricket could be the 2nd most popular in the sport in the world behind soccer.

This popularity, however, is primarily due to its extreme popularity in India, who makes up over 1 billion people, about 1/5 of the world's population. In India, cricket is easily the country's most loved sport and is seen by many as being more like a religion than a sport, as it is supported in India more feverishly probably than any sport in any country in the world. Cricket's popularity throughout the sub continent (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) is very high, being the number 1 most watched sport in all 4 countries in the sub continent. Such is the popularity of cricket in India and Pakistan that their ongoing political conflict about the disputed territory of Kashmir, which threatens to lead to a world war, is often resolved by cricket matches. Similarly, at various times India and Pakistan have refused to play cricket against each other due to political concerns. The most eagerly anticipated cricket matches in the world are when Pakistan plays against India.

Outside of the sub continent, cricket is most popular in Australia, where it is probably the most popular sport in the country (at least at an international level). Cricket competes with football (including AFL, rugby league, rugby union and soccer), netball (which is probably the sport with the most players in Australia, but few people watch it) and basketball, and is not clearly the dominant sport. Nonetheless, most international matches are sellouts and the Australian TV audiences for international matches in Australia are the highest of any sport.

New Zealand, South Africa and England also support cricket heavily, although cricket is not the most popular sport in any of those 3 countries. In New Zealand, cricket is the 2nd most popular sport behind rugby, as is also the case in South Africa. In England, cricket is the 2nd most popular sport behind soccer (called football in England) and is sometimes the 3rd most popular sport also behind rugby.

While West Indies was the best side in the world in the 1970s and 1980s, cricket was the most popular sport in the Caribbean countries. However, since they stopped being as dominant, soccer has become the most popular sport in these countries, and such sports as running, basketball and other sports have pushed cricket down as low as 4th or 5th even. Since Allen Stanford's "Stanford Twenty/20" series began, however, cricket has become increasingly popular in the West Indies, at least at a local level. International cricket is still not very popular in West Indies, although this may change if West Indies becomes good again.

In Zimbabwe, cricket is very popular, although soccer is probably more popular. Since the reign of Robert Mugabe (who has made himself also the leader of Zimbabwe cricket), and Zimbabwe lost its test status, cricket has not been as popular in Zimbabwe as previously, probably because of the political implications of playing it.

Popularity of cricket outside of its main countries[edit]

USA / Canada[edit]

Canada supports cricket a lot more than USA, and Canada's side is fairly close to elite status, while USA's is a long way behind. Nonetheless, Canada does not support cricket at all, and it would not be in the 10 most popular sports in the country. Less than 100,000 people play cricket in Canada (out of a population of 30 million) and less than 50,000 people play cricket in USA (out of a population of 250 million). Most of the people who play cricket in USA and Canada were either born in one of the more well-supported countries or else their family is from there. People of Caribbean descent make up most of the USA national team.

Central and South America[edit]

Nepal has the strongest team in Central and South America, and they compete in the competition that is one level below the elite status. Cricket is virtually unheard of in most of South America, although Argentina and Mexico do also have national teams.


China have stated that they aim to be a big force in international cricket by 2020, although to date they are yet to make an impact. A type of bowler is called a "Chinaman" (a type of spin bowling) but other than that they have no real impact.

Asia, however, have a lot of countries that support cricket to a reasonable extent. These include:

  • Afghanistan - in spite of the obvious problems relating to their civil war, the taliban and the invasion by USA in 2001, Afghanistan nonetheless has a reasonably good national side, who can compete against English county sides reasonably well.
  • United Arab Emirates - they are just outside of the group that make the World Cup, and hope to make it one day. They compete in the annual asian cup, although they usually get beaten easily by the major sub continent sides.
  • Hong Kong - they are the base of the Hong Kong Sixes, and otherwise have a reasonable team, although perhaps not as good as UAE.

Most countries in Asia do not play cricket seriously, and even in the countries which have reasonable side most people would not have heard of it.


England obviously supports cricket, and the other countries in the United Kingdom (Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland) also play cricket fairly well. Ireland has a test side in women's cricket and made the semi finals of the most recent men's World Cup. Scotland have also made the World Cup in the past. Wales is officially a part of the English national side (it is officially called the "England and Wales side"), although they do sometimes compete separately.

Outside of the United Kingdom, the main country is Holland (Netherlands), who have made the World Cup several times. Just the same, cricket in Holland is about as popular as it is in USA and Canada, and would not be in the top 10 most popular sports in the country.

Whilst a number of European countries do have national sides that do compete in international contests, outside of UK and perhaps Holland, most people in Europe would not even know what cricket was.


South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya obviously lead the way with African cricket, where it is one of the most popular sports in the country. Namibia, with a mostly white side, also has made a world cup and have a fairly good side. Cricket throughout Africa is quickly gaining in popularity, with Uganda also having an increasingly competitive side.

Caribbean and island nations[edit]

The amalgamated side of the "West Indies" has had a side at the elite level since the 1930s and for 20 years through the 1970s and 1980s they were the best side in world cricket. Nearby Bermuda, who is not part of West Indies, also has a reasonable side, who made the recently completed world cup. Island nations near to the official West Indies countries also know about and heavily support cricket.

Australian continent and South East Asian islands[edit]

Cricket is incredibly popular in both Australia and New Zealand. Most countries in this region know about cricket. Fiji and Malaysia both have sides that are fairly close to the elite level, while Phillippines and Indonesia have sides that are at a level below, along with Papua New Guinea. Most countries in this area at least know what cricket is, although they might not have a very good side. Many of the countries in this area are over-populated (including Indonesia, Malaysia and Phillippines) and as such it is difficult to find enough room to play a game of cricket. Some of the island nations, such as Fiji, have too small a population to be any good at cricket. Fijians like rugby and soccer most, but cricket is also played, at least at a social level.

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