Cricket is a bat-and-ball team sport that is first documented as being played in southern England in the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century, cricket had developed to the point where it had become the national sport of England. The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas and by the mid-19th century the first international matches were being held. Today, the International Cricket Council has 104 members. The game has its greatest following in the Test playing countries of Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies and is generally regarded as the second most popular spectator sport in the world.
The rules of the game are known as the Laws of Cricket. These are maintained by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of cricket, and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the club that has been the guardian of the Laws since it was founded in 1787.
In cricket, one team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible without being dismissed ("out") while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the other team’s batsmen and limit any runs being scored. When the batting team has used all its available overs or has no remaining batsmen, the roles become reversed and it is now the fielding team’s turn to bat and try to outscore the opposition.
There are several variations in the length of a game of cricket. In professional cricket this ranges from a limit of 20 overs per side (Limited Overs Cricket) to a game played over 5 days (Test cricket). Depending on the length of the game being played, there are different rules that govern how a game is won, lost, drawn or tied.