Peculiar Pastimes: Cricket


Despite not being commonly played in the United States, Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world with its intricate rules and audience of 2.6 billion people globally.

Joey Raynor and Brody Salowe

Many Americans have heard of the sport cricket, but few understand its true popularity, perplexing rules and amazing history.

According to sports writer extraordinaire Charlie Proctor, “cricket is actually the second-largest sport in the world.” With roughly 2.5 billion fans, cricket is still gaining traction each day. While cricket is on the rise in the U.S., it is still most popular in India and Pakistan. Even though cricket was first played in the 1700s, cricket was the sport of choice for American citizens until baseball took the country by storm shortly after the Civil War.

The earliest forms of cricket were believed to be played as early as the 13th century, but the first 11 versus 11 match wasn’t recorded until 1697 in Sussex, England. Even though England was the birthplace of cricket, not everyone was allowed to play initially. In the early 18th century, it was revealed that the southern counties of England were limited to playing cricket due to its popularity at that time.

The objective of cricket is to score more runs than your opponent. To score a run, the player must hit the ball with the cricket bat. After hitting the ball, the two batsmen at the wickets run to the opposite ends, but there are a variety of ways to score.

Cricket is played with 11 players on each team, similar to soccer. There must be two umpires standing at either end of the wicket. A wicket is made up of three stumps, or stakes, each 28 inches high and of equal thickness (about 1.25 inches), stuck into the ground and spaced so that the ball cannot pass through them. Umpires make decisions about the legal status of the delivery, appeals for wickets and generally conduct the game in a legal manner. In a cricket match, there are three umpires: two on-field umpires and, if the game has television cameras on the ground, there is a third.

Played in 180 different countries, cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world. The International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2019 had a global audience of 2.6 billion people, a nearly 38% viewer increase than the 2015 Men’s Cricket World Cup. Even though cricket may be second to baseball in the states, its accessibility around the world will keep the sport growing, no matter where it’s played.