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2015 Cricket World Cup: What You Need to Know

As you read this, one of the biggest sporting events in the world is happening in Australia and New Zealand: 11th ICC (International Cricket Council) Cricket World Cup. Like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, the Cricket World Cup takes place every four years. While cricket may not be very popular in the U.S., approximately 1.5 billion TV viewers (that’s one-fifth of the world’s population!) are watching the World Cup.

If you're unfamiliar with the sport, here's how it's played:

Fans of baseball will recognize cricket’s bat and ball. Cricket involves two teams of 11 people. One side balls while the other bats, and then they switch roles. The batsman uses a flat bat to face a baller who pitches the ball. 

2015 cricket world cup

The baller tries to get the batsman out by hitting a target called the wicket behind the batsman. The batsman can also get out if the ball is caught, just as in baseball. The batsmen can score runs by running between the pitch, the 22-yard strip in the center of the playing field. They can also score six or four runs by hitting the ball across the boundary, which is a similar play to a home run.

In the World Cup matches, each team gets to bat for 50 overs (an over is six balls) or until all their batsmen are out. The team that scores more runs,wins.

Fourteen teams began the tournament, including Afghanistan. This World Cup marked the historic debut of the country in the competition. Team Afghanistan has impressed many in their debut with its spirited performance.

“(The tournament has shown) Afghanistan is not just a war-torn area. It's a promising group of cricketers,” Andy Moles, the Afghanistan coach said.

The World Cup is now at its halfway mark. In the first stage, the teams were split into two groups of seven. The teams played 42 games in a round-robin format across 14 cities in the two countries. The top four teams from each group are now advancing to the high drama of knockout quarterfinals. 

The biggest surprise so far has been the elimination of England, where cricket is believed to have originated. They finished with only two wins in six games. 

"It's a hollow feeling at the moment," Peter Moores, coach of England, said. "You feel like you have let people down."

In the quarterfinals, defending champion India defeated Bangladesh today and will face the winner of the match between four-time champion Australia and Pakistan. South Africa defeated Sri Lanka yesterday and will meet either New Zealand or the West Indies in the semis. The four winners of knockout matches will play in the semifinals before the finals on March 29th in Melbourne.

The 2015 Cricket World Cup has already been very exciting and will only get better as it hits its climax. There are many more unbelievable moments in store for the more than a billion fans glued to their TV screens.

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images