Cricket is a sport that has been played around the world for more than eight centuries. In fact, there is written evidence of Prince Edward playing cricket in 14th century England. It wasn't until the 17th century, however, that cricket became a professional sport played in competition, and not until a hundred years later that it became known around the world.
Cricket is played by two teams of eleven players each, which take turns to bowl a hard-leather ball. At first view, cricket looks somehow similar to baseball, with players batting a ball and trying to score as many runs as possible. The differences, however, are many. For starters, cricket is played with a flat bat, rather than a rounded one, and players do not run on a square to score a point, but instead run forward in an effort to reach the opposite end of the pitch. If the ball is hit hard enough to go far, a player may keep running back and forth between the opposite ends, scoring one point every time they complete the full distance.
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A cricket pitch is always a grassy rectangle measuring 66 x 10 feet (20.12 x 3.05 m). Two sets of wickets (made up of three wooden stumps and two bails each) are placed at each end of the field. Several additional lines mark the infield and outfield areas, used to determine if a pitch is legal according to the position of the player and the direction of the ball.
Cricket follows a system of 42 Laws, which can be modified prior to a game if both teams agree to it. This applied mainly to the field, the playing structure, and the positioning of the players. Players usually stay in one position, either as batsmen or bowlers; all-rounders (players who can take either position in any given game) are rare and considered extremely invaluable in a team. Games are controlled by two on-field referees known as umpires, although a third, off-field referee, is sometimes involved in international matches. Cricket innings are extremely long, lasting up to six hours on a day, with several breaks for coffee and refreshments. Cricket cannot be played in rainy days or at night; while some indoor cricket games exist, the sport is meant to be played outside.