Cricket is played and watched worldwide but only a few countries take part in the most prestigious international tournaments. These are regulated and organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) which is the highest governing body of the sport. It currently has ten full member states that play Test matches and other ICC-sanctioned tournaments which, however, are sometimes also participated by associate members. But unlike full ICC members, associate members (36 in total) usually have to qualify for the most prestigious international competitions. The ICC also has 60 affiliate member countries that play cricket according to the Laws of Cricket but don’t yet meet the standards of associate members. But they can participate in ICC international events as well.
International Cricket Tournaments
International cricket tournaments have the greatest value in both the eyes of the players and spectators. The ICC Cricket World Cup is the most prestigious of all and is the fourth most popular sport event in the world. The tournament is held every four years since 1975, while the title is competed by ten full members of the ICC along with other national teams that pass the qualifying tournaments. The most titles was won by Australia – four, followed by India and the West Indies with two titles each. England is still awaiting for its first World Cup title.
The ICC Champions Trophy is second to the World Cup in importance but in 2013, only fifteen years since its inauguration, the tournament will be competed by the best 8 ODI teams for the last time. Instead, the ICC World Test Championship will be held but the inauguration won’t take place before 2017. The first World Test Championship was scheduled to be held in 2013 but it was postponed out of financial reasons. As a result, the premier championship for Test cricket remains The Ashes, a series that is played between England and Australia since 1882.
In 2007, the list of the most prestigious international cricket tournaments was joined by the ICC World Twenty20 which, as its name reveals, is an international competition for the Twenty20 cricket. The title of the World Twenty20 Cricket Champion is competed by the ten full members of the ICC plus two teams that pass the qualifications.
National Cricket Championships
Cricket is of course also played on the national level in all formats although Test cricket is almost exclusively played on the international level. First-class cricket in England and Wales is dominated by 18 clubs competing the Country Championship, the Friends Provident Trophy (originally the Gillette Cup) and the Friends Life t20 (originally the Friends Provident t20).
Prominent national cricket championships outside England and Wales include the Sheffield Shields (Australia), Currie Cup (South Africa), Ranji Trophy (India), Shell Shields (West Indies) and Plunket Shield (New Zealand). Training such as endurance, hand eye coordination skills and a strength and conditioning course can help with performance in this sport.