What seems to have started out as a children's game in the old English countryside has grown into many forms and is now considered to be the second most popular sport in the world. An early form of cricket was mentioned in writings from the 13th century although it is thought the game is far older.
In its basic form, cricket involves a batter to defend his wicket, three sticks with two bars balanced on the top, from being struck so as to drop the "bails" off of the sticks. To accomplish this he must either block the ball that has been cast toward the wicket or hit it out into the field. Scores are made by the batter and another teammate, the runner, exchanging ends of the 66 foot long pitch and reaching the safe zone without the opponents using the ball to knock over the bails from the top of the wicket. Originally a cricket match was played over the course of two to three days. A modern variation has sped the game up and single set, one day games of an average six hours play is becoming more common.
By the 17th century cricket had begun to be more of an adult game and wagering was the impetus that drove its popularity. At one point legislation had to be passed to limit the amount that could be wagered on a game. By the mid 18th century, cricket had become much more codified and regulated and has since been carried around the world.