The game of cricket goes back to at least the 13th century, though it is possibly even older. It was likely first played by farmers' and metalworkers' children in England's Weald, near Sussex and Kent. The first variation of the name appeared in 1598, with a court case referring to a game called krekett being played at an English school. From that point, the game grew to become an immensely popular sport throughout England.
At that time, people began to form tournaments, such as the "great cricket match" in Sussex in 1697. In the 18th century, it was named the official sport of England and was the favored leisure activity of the privileged class. In the 1760s, the Hambledon Club in London was the center of much of the country's cricket activity.
Though there were many matches within England, the game was not played internationally until 1859, when an English team traveled to North America for a match. An English team traveled to Australia 18 years later to play against an Australian team in Melbourne. The first Australian team to play in England was made up of Australian aborigines, which was a groundbreaking event, both for the native Australian community and for the world of cricket.
The game continued to gain widespread popularity throughout the 20th century, with the introduction of One Day International matches in 1971. Today, cricket is one of the most widespread games in the world. It is extremely popular in England and Australia, as well as other countries, including Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and India. The game never really gained popularity in the United States, however, which has no official team.
In many countries, the game is played by state and national teams, but it is also a very popular sport for children and families to play casually. Other variations of the sport include indoor cricket, in which a net is used, and a faster version that originated in New Zealand, called Kiwi cricket.