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Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport contested by two teams, usually of eleven players each. A match is played on a grass field, roughly oval in shape, in the center of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards (20.12 m) long called the pitch. At each end of the pitch three parallel wooden stakes (known as stumps) are driven vertically into the ground and two small crosspieces (known as bails) are laid across the top. This wooden structure is called a wicket.
A player from the fielding team known as the bowler, delivers the leather-covered ball from one wicket towards the other. The ball should bounces once before reaching a player (batsman) from the opposing team. It is the batsman's job to defend his wicket from being struck by the delivered ball and also attempt to score runs for his team. In defending his wicket, the batsman uses a wooden bat to strike the ball. The batsman, after striking the ball, may choose to run between the wickets and exchange ends with a second batsman who has been waiting at the bowler's end wicket. Each exchange of ends successfully completed constitutes a run. Meanwhile, fielders on the bowler's team stand in various positions around the wicket. If the batmen choose to run, the fielders retrieve the struck ball and throw it back toward the stumps in an effort to "dismiss" the batsman. In general, the batsman may be given out if he or she allows the wicket to be struck by a bowled ball, is caught by the fielders, or if the wicket is struck while the batsmen are running between their wickets. In the TSCL, both teams get to field and bat a single time and the match is won by the team that scores the most runs.
Cricket can be traced back to Tudor times in early 16th-century England. A court case referred to a sport called creckett being played by boys at the Royal Grammar School, England in 1550. It is believed that it was originally a children's game but references around 1610 indicate that adults had started playing it. The game underwent major development in the 18th century and became the national sport of England.
The single wicket form of the sport attracted huge crowds and wagers to match. Bowling evolved around 1760 when bowlers began to pitch the ball instead of rolling or skimming it towards the batsman. This caused a revolution in bat design because, to deal with the bouncing ball, it was necessary to introduce the modern straight bat in place of the old "hockey stick" shape. MCC became the sport's premier club and the custodian of the Laws of Cricket. New Laws introduced in the latter part of the 18th century included the three stump wicket and leg before wicket (lbw).
The 19th century saw underarm bowling replaced by first roundarm and then overarm bowling. The British had been instrumental in spreading the game overseas and by the middle of the 19th century it had become well established in India, North America, the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In 1844, the first ever international cricket match took place between the United States and Canada.
Cricket entered a new era in 1963, when limited overs was introduced. Limited overs cricket became very lucrative and the popularity and number of matches increased. The first limited overs international was played in 1971. The governing International Cricket Council saw its potential and staged the first limited overs Cricket World Cup in 1975. In the 21st century, a new limited overs form Twenty20, was introduce and is now considered the most entertaining form of cricket.