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 (a set of three wooden stumps) at each end. One team bats, attempting to score as many runs as possible, whilst their opponents field. Each phase of play is called an innings. After either ten batsmen have been dismissed or a fixed number of overs have been completed, the innings ends and the two teams then swap roles. The winning team is the one that scores the most runs, including any extras gained, during their innings.
For a team sport, cricket places individual players under unusual scrutiny and pressure. Bowler, batsman, and fielder all act essentially independently of each other. While team managements can signal to a bowler or batsman to pursue certain tactics, the execution of the play itself is a series of solitary acts. Cricket is more similar to baseball than many other team sports in this regard: while the individual focus in cricket is slightly mitigated by the importance of the batting partnership and the practicalities of running, it is enhanced by the fact that a batsman's innings may continue for several hours.
Spirit of the Game
Cricket is a unique game where in addition to the laws, the players must abide by the "Spirit of the Game". The standard of sportsmanship has historically been considered so high that the phrase "it's just not cricket" was coined in the 19th century to describe unfair or underhanded behaviour in any walk of life. In the last few decades though, with financial incentives, high-level cricket has become increasingly fast-paced and competitive, increasing the use of appealing and sledging, although players are still expected to abide by the umpires' rulings without argument, and for the most part they do. Beginning in 2001, the MCC has held an annual lecture named after Colin Cowdrey on the spirit of the game. Even in the modern game fielders are known to signal to the umpire that a boundary was hit, despite what could have been considered a spectacular save (though sometimes they might be found out by the TV replays anyway). In addition to this, some batsmen have been known to "walk" when they think they are out even if the umpire does not declare them out. This is a high level of sportsmanship, as sometimes a batsman could take advantage of incorrect umpiring decisions.[cit