Cricket is a sport that boasts a rich history and signifies just how vast the British Commonwealth was at its peak. A sport that was exported around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, cricket is now watched by millions on TV and played every day.
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The sport is iconic in India, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, the Caribbean and the UK. Cricket reaches fever pitch during the World Cup and Ashes, with fans watching live cricket on TV as well as attending matches. It is a unifying sport and usually played in good spirits!
How cricket began
Cricket has been around in some form or another since the 16th century, when peasants passed the time by hitting a ball around in the fields. Over time more rules and strategies were added to the game, but the general principle of cricket has remained the same. Just like other ‘bat and ball’ games like baseball or rounders, the idea is to score runs and not get out. Batsmen can be out in a number of ways, including being caught, having their wickets hit by the ball and run out.
Over time cricket evolved to having fixed rules and laws. In the 19th and 20th century cricket was played solely over four or five days. International fixtures were called Test matches and are still seen as the pinnacle of cricket to this day.
Regardless of format, each team has 11 players, with 10 wickets available in their innings. Those who watch cricket on TV are provided with the latest score, wickets remaining and other fascinating stats and updates, such as run rates, player totals and projected scores.
Cricket in England and abroad
English cricket grew and grew in the middle of the 19th century and the sport began to be exported around the world. British colonial rule in India, Australia, South Africa and the Caribbean saw the growth of cricket in these territories. By the early 20th century teams were touring the world to compete against other nations and live cricket was often watched by thousands.
Cricket in India proved particularly popular and remains the national sport of India to this day. The sport also retained its solid foundations when the Asian sub-continent broke apart, with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka all boasting a rich cricketing heritage.
But India is now arguably the epicentre of cricket, which is signified through the formation of the Indian Premier League. Fans who watch IPL cricket online know just how competitive this short-form version of the game is. Players from all over the world are attracted to the T20 competition, which offers huge contracts, global fame and glory each year. The IPL takes place every spring and is now the biggest domestic cricket league on the planet.
When it comes to Test cricket there is nothing that can rival The Ashes. This Text battle between England and Australia is competed over five matches and has history stretching back to 1882. Both sides have enjoyed periods of Ashes dominance over the years and fans who live stream Ashes are treated to a real spectacle.
The Ashes was on free-to-air TV in the UK until 2006, when Sky Sports bought the rights to show the Test matches. Indeed, over the years Sky has completed a clean sweep of cricket TV coverage in the UK, which has only recently been superseded by BT Sport, who bought the rights to the 2017-18 series in Australia.
Cricket World Cup
The biggest international cricket tournament on the planet is the Cricket World Cup, which uses the one-day format to pit together nations from across the cricketing world. Watching Cricket World Cup matches is far easier than Test cricket because the games only last a day each! The competition takes place every four years and features the best cricket players at the top of their game.
Both Australia and India have won the Cricket World Cup multiple times, while the West Indies lifted the trophy in its inaugural year in 1975, before defending it again in 1979. England’s first Cricket World Cup triumph finally came at Lord’s in 2019 after a dramatic final against New Zealand. That final was broadcast on Sky Sports and Channel 4, making it the first international cricket match since the 2005 Ashes to be broadcast on free TV in the UK.
T20 cricket and beyond
Twenty20 cricket is the newest form of the game that originated in 2003. It was designed to make cricket more exciting and watchable. Indeed, many fans who watch cricket on TV love T20 matches because they are played in the evenings after work. T20 cricket involves each team having just 20 overs to blast as many runs on the board as possible. The IPL is the biggest T20 league in the world with millions of TV viewers, while Australia has the Big Bash.
As of 2020 the UK will host The Hundred, a fourth format of cricket the ECB hope will draw a family crowd. The idea of The Hundred is to slim down cricket even more and appeal to a wider audience. Teams will have 100 balls per innings and overs will be every 10 balls. Power plays, timeouts and other features will become part of the action. Games will be shown on Sky Sports, while the BBC will show live cricket on TV for the first time in decades, with 10 men’s and eight women’s games simulcasted during the season.