Dust off your navy and three-lions badge and get ready for a day cheering on England at the cricket pitch. The England national team represents both England and Wales and has a following with fans from both regions. Pull out your kit and start cheering as England gears up to play on home ground under the guidance of legendary-lefty Alastair Cook, the team captain.
One of the most popular spectator sports in the world, cricket gives pitch space to more than 125 countries. The International Cricket Council (ICC), the international governing body for cricket, has 105 national teams that participate in matches. The breakdown includes 10 full-member countries, 39 associate-member countries and 56 affiliate-member countries. Only full members hit the field for official test matches, so this is where national pride comes to the fore.
This year, test matches between England and Pakistan are planned in several stadiums. Players will line the pitch at Lord's, Old Trafford, Edgbaston, and The Oval for official test matches. In addition to the test matches, five ODIs are planned to take place at Lord's, Trent Bridge, Cardiff, the Rose Bowl, and Headingley. One T20I in Old Trafford will wrap up the games played in England. Then the team hits the road for games around the world in Bangladesh, India, and the West Indies.
Players have been lining up to bat for centuries, with the earliest recorded reference to the game in 1598. Over time, the game developed a codified set of laws regarding play. Each team consists of 11 players. One side will bat while the other fields. During play, the goal is to score the most runs. Bowlers work to knock down the wicket while fielders try to catch a ball in play. Batters work in pairs to try to score runs. Official test matches between full ICC members help determine team rankings, and associate teams work to spread cricket fandom throughout their home countries. Complex, strategic and exciting, cricket is a sport that draws crowds around the world.
No two cricket fields are the same. In fact, unlike other sports, there is no standardised size or shape to a cricket field. The pitch is always 20 meters across with specific placements for the bowler, batter and wickets, but the wider field can be larger or smaller. The most common shape is oval, with fans crowded around on all sides. Most stadiums offer plenty of seating for fans, but bad lighting or inclement weather can shut down a game. Umpires can stop a game for any conditions that might injure players.
During a game, new cricket fans might hear shouted phrases like "howzat", "over" and "wide" or even bowling descriptions like "googly" or "leg breaker." Understanding the sport's slang is a big part of the fun at any game. "Howzat" is the phrase fans shout at the umpire to ask about an out. "Over" is when a bowler has completed six bowls, meaning it is time to swap the field and switch bowlers. "Wide" describes a throw that is too far off course and means an instant run for the batter. "Googly" and "leg breaker" refer to different types of bowls. Cricket language is complicated, highly descriptive and a lot of fun.
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