Cricket World Cup For Dummies: What Exactly Is This Tournament?

Currently, one of the largest sporting events is under way in Australia and New Zealand. The Cricket World Cup officially kicked off in mid-February, and much like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, it takes place every four years.

While cricket may not be widely popular with an American audience, the sport remains the world's second-most popular sport after football or soccer. Roughly 1.5 billion people are watching the event across time zones, yet many in America may know not know anything about the sport.

Cricket first found its roots in 16th century England, and as result of the extensive reach in the British Empire, it became the national sport of the country. This resulted in its spread and popularity throughout Australia, England, West Indies, Southern Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Over time, regional cricket clubs (which later formed into national teams) sprung up throughout the commonwealth, resulting in growing popularity.

The year 1909 marked the formation of the International Cricket Council (ICC), formed by national teams of England, South Africa and Australia.

The ICC is comprised of 106 members of which 10 are considered full members. This includes teams from England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

There are 37 associate members and 59 affiliate members. The 10 full members automatically qualified for the 2015 World Cup, including four other teams from Ireland, Scotland, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan.

Much like the Football World Cup, two phases make up the event, including a group play and knockout play.

With the quarter finals stage just wrapping up, the four winners of knockout matches will play in the semifinals before the approaching finals on March 29 in Melbourne.

Thus far, Australia, South Africa and India have secured places in the semi finals, with New Zealand vs. West Indies results poised to round off the final four later on this evening.

The ICC has upped the winning prize money this year for the winning national team to $4.3 million US dollars, with a total of $11.5 million available to all teams.

With die-hard fans through much of the former commonwealth, over 1 billion people are closely rooting for their respected national team to bring home the title this year.