If you’re not from the Commonwealth, then there are facts that you probably never knew about cricket as a sport. Cricket is a game played between two teams of 11 players each, and consists of a bat-and-ball style of play that has some similarities to American baseball, but it has a radically different set of rules. In fact, cricket is considered to be the early ancestor of modern baseball as it was first played in the 16th century in England. Cricket’s expansion over the world followed the growth of the British Empire, so there are many leagues and organizations that play the game in India, Australia, the West Indies and South Africa today. Let’s look at 8 facts that you probably never knew about cricket:

ONE:THE EQUIPMENT

The equipment used in cricket consists of a bat made from a willow wood blade and a cane handle. The bats weigh about 2 to 3 pounds and must be no longer than 38 inches. The person who swings a bat is referred to as a ‘batsman’ and never a ‘batter.’ The small gate set up behind the batsman is called a ‘wicket’ and it is made of several parts of three ‘stumps’ on which rests two ‘bails.’ The ball used in the sport is made from leather, weighs about 5½ ounces, and it can be ‘bowled’ at velocities of upwards of 90 miles an hour.

TWO:THE TEST MATCH

An international match in cricket is called a ‘Test Match’ which consists of a single match that can last up to 5 days. The word ‘Test’ comes from the suggestion that to endure such a lengthy contest is quite the test. It is the long form of the game that dates back to the 1870s and was the primary and traditional way for the game to be played. It is a much slower pace with each team playing two innings each. the test matches are eagerly awaited events, particularly the Ashes series between England and Australia..

THREE:TWENTY20

Twenty20 style of playing cricket was introduced in 2003. It consists of two teams playing each other with just one innings of 20 overs each (an over is a seris of 6 balls from one bowler at one end). I won’t go into the details of the rules too much in this article, but suffice it to say, these changes created a much shorter game. The result was that a Twenty20 cricket match can be played in about a 3 to 4 hour window, which is more in line with other professional sports. This new style of play created a resurgence of interest in cricket internationally and brought new audiences to the sport.

FOUR:CRICKET IN AMERICA

Believe it or not, cricket was a popular sport in America from 1834 to 1914, and there were clubs formed in over 46 states. The first intercollegiate tournament in America was a cricket tournament. The first international cricket game played in America was held at Bloomingdale Park in New York in 1844, and was played between the US and Canada. The game was so popular that between 10,000 and 20,000 spectators attended. It is reported that over $120,000 in bets were placed on that single game. Philadelphia used to be the hub of cricket in America, and several U.S. teams toured England in tournaments in between 1897-1908. The sport suffered a rapid decline in the early 1900s, and never returned to popularity.

FIVE:THE ASHES MATCH

The Ashes is the longest continual and oldest rivalry in the game, and it has been an ongoing almost uninterrupted annual/bi-annual competition between Australia and England since 1882. The contest consists of several test matches played over a period of a few weeks, and it gets its name from the urn the two teams play for. Apparently the story goes that a group of women burned a pair of bails (which are the small sticks placed on the stumps to form a wicket in the game) mourning the death of English cricket after a defeat by Australia, and placed the ashes in the urn.

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