Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long (20 metres) pitch with a target at each end called the wicket (a set of three wooden stumps upon which two bails sit). Each phase of play is called an innings, during which one team bats, attempting to score as many runs as possible, whilst their opponents bowl and field, attempting to minimise the number of runs scored. When each innings ends, the teams usually swap roles for the next innings (i.e. the team that previously batted will bowl/field, and vice versa). The teams each bat for one or two innings, depending on the type of match. The winning team is the one that scores the most runs, including any extras gained (except when the result is not a win/loss result). There are various formats ranging from Twenty20, played over a few hours with each team having a single innings of 20 overs (i.e. 120 deliveries), to Test matches 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.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), which has its headquarters in Dubai, is the global governing body of cricket. The ICC is responsible for the organisation and governance of cricket's major international tournaments, notably the men's and women's versions of the Cricket World Cup. It also appoints the umpires and referees that officiate at all sanctioned Test matches, Limited Overs Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals.
International cricket: Most international matches are played as parts of 'tours', when one nation travels to another for a number of weeks or months, and plays a number of matches of various sorts against the host nation. Sometimes a perpetual trophy is awarded to the winner of the Test series, the most famous of which is The Ashes. The ICC also organises competitions that are for several countries at once, including the Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and ICC World Twenty20. Competitions for member nations of the ICC with Associate status include the ICC Intercontinental Cup, for first-class cricket matches, and the World Cricket League for one-day matches, the final matches of which now also serve as the ICC World Cup Qualifier.
International cricket in India generally does not follow a fixed pattern. For example, the English schedule under which the nation tours other countries during winter and plays at home during the summer. Generally, there has recently been a tendency to play more one-day matches than Test matches. Cricket in India is managed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
- Ranji Trophy: Founded as the 'Cricket Championship of India' at a meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in July 1934. The first Ranji Trophy fixtures took place in the 1934–35 season. The Ranji Trophy is composed of teams representing the states that make up India. As the political states have multiplied, so have cricket teams, but not every state has a team.
- Duleep Trophy: Named after Duleep singh, the Duleep Trophy competition, which is a first-class competition started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1961–62 with the aim of providing a greater competitive edge in domestic cricket. The Duleep Trophy was also meant to help the selectors to assessing form of top cricketers playing against each other. From the 1993–94 season, the competition has been converted to a league format.
- Irani Trophy: The Trophy tournament was conceived during the 1959–60 season to mark the completion of 25 years of the Ranji Trophy championship and was named after the late Z.R. Irani, who was associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Irani Trophy game ranks high in popularity and importance. It is one of the few domestic matches followed with keen interest by cricket lovers in the country. Leading players take part in the game, which has often been a sort of selection trial to pick the Indian team for foreign tours.
- Deodhar Trophy: Started in 1973–74 by Board of Control for Cricket in India, it is the current one-day cricket competition in Indian domestic cricket. 5 zonal teams – North zone, South zone, East zone, West zone and Central zone feature in the competition.
- NKP Salve Challenger Trophy: Started as the Challenger series by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1994–95 and later named as NKP Salve Challenger Trophy in 1998–99. This tournament features 3 teams: India senior, India A and India B playing each other in a round robin format. They were later renamed India Blue, India Red and India Green respectively. The tournament features the top 36 players from across India and is also the most popular domestic structure after IPL.
- Vijay Hazare Trophy: Named after the prolific Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare, the Trophy was started in 2002–03 as an attempt to bring the limited-overs game among a greater audience. The competition involves state teams from the Ranji trophy plates battling out in a 50-over competition. It is also dubbed as the Premier Cup by BCCI. It now joins Deodhar Trophy as the second one-day competition of Indian domestic circuit.
- BCCI Corporate Trophy: BCCI have set up a 12 team inter-corporate tournament in 2009 that involves all top Indian cricketers. The tournament involves 50-over-a-side matches with the winner picking up Rs 1 crore and the runner up getting Rs 50 lakh.
- Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: To be played for the first time in the 2008–09 season, this is the first of its kind zonal T20 championship and the third overall in the Indian cricket season, which would see Ranji teams divided along zonal lines into two groups. Launched after the success of the IPL and the need of the BCCI to search for more talent in the growing regions of cricket.
- Indian Premier League : This League has been launched by BCCI in 2007-08 and it received support from all the other Cricket Boards and International Players. The Players were selected via the auctions and drafted into the City-based Franchises. Based on regional loyalties, the eight-team tournament brings a unique and popular team and player auction system hand-picking some of the best international players in the world and teaming them with Indian players, both domestic and international, in one arena.
- Inter-State T20 Championship: After India became another member of the ICC Twenty20 and played its first international T20 against South Africa, BCCI launched its own state structure in 2006–07 season, with 27 Ranji teams divided in 5 Zones.
- Vinoo Mankad Trophy – A trophy tournament for under 19, in memories of famous cricketer Vinoo Mankad.
- Yagnik Trophy – A tournament for inter college, under the university level student, named after Dr. Yagnik, Gandhian and famous figure in Saurashtra.
Women's domestic competitions:
- Senior women's one day league: Started in season 2006–07, is the women's List-A cricket tournament. It was played in round-robin format at zonal level and top performing team then playing in super league. The format was changed in season 2013–14, since then it is played in 2 tiers, with states being divided in 5 groups, 2 in elite group and 3 in plate group. Finalists in plate group, at the end of season are promoted to Elite group and 2 bottom most performing team in elite group are relegated to the plate group.
- Inter State Women's Twenty20 Competition is the women's Twenty20 competition. It is played between full members of BCCI.
The glamour and fame associated with the sport encourages millions of youngsters in the country to take up Cricket as a profession but the cut throat competition means that very few are able to make it to the national stage. The budding cricketers hoping to represent India on the international stage strive to get admission into any of the country’s best cricket academies.
Some cricket academies in India are:
- Neerja Modi Cricket Academy is located in Jaipur, Rajasthan and was established in the year 2001 by Vinod Mathur who is a former captain of Rajasthan’s Ranji team and a current member of the BCCI’s Technical Committee.(neerja modi cricket academy)
- Cricket India Academy owned by Sports Education Development India Limited. The academy is located in Mumbai and offers an integrated cricket development program consisting of basic cricket coaching for children to high quality coaching sessions as the child gradually grows up.(cricketindiaacademy.com)
- Vengsarkar Cricket Academy was established in the year 1994 in Mumbai by former Indian Cricket captain Dilip Vengsarkar. The academy has also its branches in Pune and Mahul.(vengsarkar cricket academy)
- VB Cricket Academy established in the year 1997 at Chennai by the former Indian opener and national selector VB Chandrasekhar. The academy is open for everyone between the ages 6-19 years. The academy offers both basic and advanced courses in batting, fast bowling, spin bowling and fielding.(www.vbcricketacademy.com)
- National Cricket Academy is located in Bangalore at the Chinmaswamy Stadium. The academy is owned by the BCCI, the apex body of cricket in India. The academy was established to train young cricketers with the potential to play for India and provides different practice pitches and bowling machines besides many other facilities. NCA also offers scholarships to three players every year to train at the Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Brisbane. This is called the Border-Gavaskar Scholarship.
- Jaipur Cricket Academy was established in the year 2010 at the pink city in Rajasthan by Shamsher Singh. The academy provides professional coaching in an excellent atmosphere for all age groups and players with different abilities.(jaipur cricket academy)
- Karnataka Institute of Cricket is the only cricket academy that provides coaching all through the year. Five sessions are conducted each day at the academy along with one-one to-one coaching between morning and evening sessions and after the evening sessions under flood lights. The academy also organizes matches and undertakes both national and international tours.(kioc.net)
- Madan Lal Cricket Academy is located in New Delhi.(www.madanlalcricketacademy.com)
- National School of Cricket is located in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. This is a joint venture between Abhimanyu Cricket Academy and Asian School. The infrastructure of the academy matches international standards.(national school cricket)
- Sehwag Cricket Academy is owned by Virendra Sehwag. The academy provides state-of-the-art facilities for imparting high quality cricket training. Structured training programs are provided for children of various age groups on a daily and weekly basis besides special courses during holidays. Regular matches are also held along with advisory sessions with experts of the game.(sehwagacademy.com)