Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch with a wicket sited at each end. The winning team is the one that scores the most runs, including any extras gained, when batting. The opposition is called the fielding team, whose most important member, the bowler, is supported by a wicketkeeper and nine fielders. The bowler bowls the ball with the purpose of dismissing the batsman from play. The batsman's purpose is to score runs off the ball using a bat. When a batsman is dismissed, another teammate goes in to bat and so on until ten members are "out" and the innings ends (one batsman remains but cannot play alone and so is "not out"). In some match formats, the innings ends after a prescribed number of six-ball overs have been bowled. The teams then change roles with the fielding team becoming the batting team and playing its innings. Adjudication is performed on-field by two umpires.
The laws of cricket are maintained by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). There are various formats ranging from Twenty20, played over a few hours with each team having a single innings of 20 overs, to Test cricket, played over five days with unlimited overs and the teams playing two innings apiece. Traditionally, cricketers play in all-white kit but in limited overs cricket they wear club or team colours. In addition to the basic kit, some players wear protective gear to prevent injury caused by the ball which is a hard, solid object made of compressed leather enclosing a cork core.
Although cricket's origins are uncertain, it is recorded as being played in southern England as early as the 16th century. It spread globally with the expansion of the British Empire, leading to the first international matches in the mid-19 century. ICC, the game's governing body, has 10 full members. Cricket is the world's second most popular spectator sport, after association football, and is followed primarily in Australasia, England, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies and Southern Africa.