A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Cricket

Updated on July 11, 2019
chrisqw profile image

I am a big sports fan who loves explaining the beautiful sport of cricket to others.

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Like all great world sports, cricket is a very simple game when you break it down. One player will throw a ball while another tries to hit it. However, like all sports, there are a set of rules to play by that you must learn. There is also specific terminology that can be complicated and very confusing.

I am a cricket enthusiast from England and I am going to try to lift some of the layers of confusion from the game. By the end of this article, you will have a basic understanding of how the game works.

The Absolute Basics

Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players on each side. Matches are officiated over by two umpires. Their decisions in the game are final.

Similar to baseball, one team will bat while the other takes the field. The aim of the game is to score more runs than the opposition. Yes, it's that simple!

A game begins with the team captains flipping a coin to see which side will bat first. The winner of the toss can elect to bat first or to take the field first.

Types of Matches

There are three major types of cricket matches that you will see at the professional level.

  • Test match: This is the longest match type; it could potentially last up to five days. Both teams will go through their batting lineup twice for a total of four innings. For reference, one innings (yes, that term is singular and plural) can last for roughly a day. A test match will feature 90 overs; an over refers to six bowls or pitches that a bowler (the guy throwing the ball) delivers.
  • One-day match: As the name suggests, this type of match will only last a day. Each team bats once with 50 overs each.
  • Twenty20: This is the quickest match type. Each team only faces 20 overs, so matches can end within three hours.

Batting

The batting side begins by sending in the first two players in their batting order. The striker will be taking pitches from the bowler while the other batsmen, the non-striker, will be at the other end of the pitch. The remainder of the team will wait off of the field for their turn to bat.

Bowls will be delivered to the striker in an attempt to get them out. When this happens, they are replaced by another batsmen. This will occur until all players are out, which will be the end of the innings.

Bowling

The bowler is the one who bowls the ball to the batsman.

The fielding team will disperse around the field to positions designed to either stop runs from being scored or to get the batsmen out. The bowler will takes the ball and bowl it to a batsman at the wicket, which are stumps in the ground that designate where the batsman should be. The wicket-keeper, who wears a pair of webbed gloves designed for catching the ball and protective pads covering the shins, will be behind the wicket. They will catch any balls that the batsman fails to hit.

The goal of the bowler will be to prevent runs from being scored by getting the batsman out. This is referred to as a dismissal in cricket.

When one bowler has delivered six balls, that constitutes as an over, A different member of the fielding team is given the ball and bowls the next over from the opposite end of the pitch. The batsmen do not change ends, so the roles of striker and non-striker swap after each over. Any member of the fielding team may bowl, as long as no bowler delivers two consecutive overs. Once a bowler begins an over, they must complete it, unless they're injured or suspended during the over.

Basic Cricket Terms

  • Innings: This is how a game is broken up. Innings refer to the duration it takes for a team to bat. A test match has four innings with each team coming up to bat twice. Other match types will only have two innings with each team batting once.
  • Wicket: This refers to the three stumps at the end of a pitch. A batsman will bat in front of the wicket to protect it. Their goal is to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket.
  • Run: This is simply the unit of scoring in cricket. This is most commonly done when a batsman makes a run after making a good hit.
  • Dismissal: This refers to the end of a batman's batting period, similar to an out in baseball. The goal for the fielding team is to dismiss 10 players to end the innings.

Scoring in Cricket

Here are the main methods to score a run in cricket.

  • Single: This is when a batsman makes a good shot that allows him to run to the opposite wicket. A run is scored if they make it to the opposing side; both batsmen must be aware of when this can be done on the field. Double or triple singles are possible as well.
  • Boundary: This is basically the equivalent of a home run in cricket. If a batsman hits the ball to the perimeter of the field, their team is awarded six runs. There is no need to run in a boundary hit.
  • Extras: These refer to points awarded from penalties that are done by the fielding team. This happens when a bowler delivers a wide (an illegal delivery that is too high or wide) or no-ball (the bowler made some type of illegal delivery or a fielder made an illegal action).

Dismissal in Cricket

Here are the basic methods of dismissal in the sport.

  • Bowled: A batsman is out if a delivery hits the wicket. It can be a direct hit or be a deflection off of the batsman or their bat.
  • Caught: A striker is out if they hit a delivery and the ball is caught by a bowler or a fielder before it hits the ground.
  • Leg before wicket: A striker is out if the ball hits any part of their body and the umpire decides that the delivery would have hit the wicket. This does not apply if the delivery hit the bat.
  • Run out: This happens when the batsmen are running between wickets. If the fielding team puts down a wicket while the ball is in play, the batsman closest to the wicket is out.
  • Stumped: This occurs when the wicket-keeper puts down a wicket when a batsmen has stepped out of his grounds.

This is the basic outline of how the game is played. Cricket is an exciting sport that has a huge following. If you think this game is intriguing, I encourage you to do more research about the sport. I highly recommend watching a professional game!

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      Babysparkle 

      8 weeks ago

      Nice simple account of cricket, a sport that has just seemed interesting to me - thank you! :o)

    • profile image

      Neil Kelson 

      9 months ago

      I also love cricket -- great Web pages

    • profile image

      aliajamesaj8914 

      5 years ago

      I just love cricket and a big fan of #Cricket.

    • profile image

      aliajamesaj8914 

      5 years ago

      I just love cricket and a big fan of #Cricket.

    • profile image

      aliajamesaj8914 

      5 years ago

      I just love cricket and a big fan of #Cricket.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      6 years ago from Somewhere in England

      It is so hard to explain cricket to someone who doesn't understand and you've done a great job. I think, when you know the game, you love it so much you forget to cover the basics. Mr Boycott said something interesting (for once.) Batting is like the opposite of golf where, the worse you play, the more goes you get.

    • Im into that profile image

      Im into that 

      6 years ago

      Watching Aus Vs Sri Lanka right now. Cricket is Awesome! Go the Aussies

    • leesholden profile image

      Lee 

      6 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

      Great lens, seems so many people have never really got into the game which is so sad

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 

      6 years ago

      My son played cricket when we lived in the Caribbean. I could have really used this page because I just didn't understand it :)

    • profile image

      Negombotown 

      7 years ago

      we love Cricket

      NegomboTown.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I used to enjoy going to one day cricket matches, I liked the quicker pace of the game as opposed to test matches. Great information on the basics of Cricket.

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 

      7 years ago from Kent, UK

      At last somewhere I can send my American friends to learn all about it. I've tried to explain but ended up mystifying them.

    • profile image

      cricandcric1557 

      7 years ago

      This is the best article Iâve ever seen on this topic. Iâll be linking and sending out links to this one for a long time.

    • HenkWillemse profile image

      HenkWillemse 

      7 years ago

      Great post, there are a couple of people I would like to show this to.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Cricket is one of my favourite sports and we played it a lot when I was in my teens. I prefer it to sports like baseball 'cos there is so much of variation, both in bowling and batting.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 

      7 years ago

      Well, I always wondered what it was about cricket that made it so appealing. Now, I think I know!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Also check out our website : http://livecricketscoreballbyball.com for latest scores

    • AllenShapiro profile image

      AllenShapiro 

      7 years ago

      Love cricket humor and wit .. check out my lens for tons of cricket laughter :)

      https://hubpages.com/sports/wittiest-and-funniest-...

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      7 years ago

      i play softball and i think i can hit the ball with a flat batter.

    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 

      7 years ago

      Very thorough lens!

    • jacinto888 profile image

      jacinto888 

      7 years ago

      Great link, I never know how to play and this lens gives a great explanation

    • ScareYouDiva profile image

      ScareYouDiva 

      8 years ago

      great explanation! I always wondered how cricket worked. I'm looking forward to watching it and actually understanding what's happening now. Thanks

    • Shivani09 LM profile image

      Shivani09 LM 

      8 years ago

      Interesting lens!

    • PopArtGirl profile image

      PopArtGirl 

      8 years ago

      Great lens - love cricket!

    • pramodbisht profile image

      pramodbisht 

      8 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image

      humzayunas 

      8 years ago

      cricket is very good game and i like cricket

    • anansigirls lm profile image

      anansigirls lm 

      8 years ago

      Nice try, but I am still none the wiser. A few years ago I went to a picnic where they were short of a player and asked a friend of mine, who didn't have a clue about cricket, to stand in. He was given a bat, and someone told him: Now, whenever someone throws a ball at you, you just hit it. Apparently it worked (the picnic was suddenly extented to 8 hours). And that's still all I know about cricket. However, I had fun reading the lens.

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 

      8 years ago

      Very helpful lens, nicely explained. Used to play ladies cricket myself, once.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I feel better equipped on cricket now, less chances of people making fun.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 

      8 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • CliveAnderson LM profile image

      CliveAnderson LM 

      8 years ago

      I'll be honest... I'm not a great fan, but perhaps that was down to my ignorants of like so many others not knowing the full rules of the game. Thanks to your lens I now have a better understanding and so will probably enjoy the game a whole lot more... Thank you for sharing,

      Warm Regards,

      Clive

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 

      8 years ago from USA

      I'm not a dummy. I'm an idiot. I knew nothing about cricket, but I know a little now. Thank you for explaining! Nice, well-presented lens! ~Vicki~

    • profile image

      just2011 

      8 years ago

      A nice & compact lens on cricket.

    • profile image

      huvalbd 

      8 years ago

      I moved to England from the States, and until now cricket has remained a complete mystery to me. Thank you for helping me begin to understand.

    • sallemange profile image

      sallemange 

      8 years ago

      When you're in you try to stay in and not get out whilst the team that are out try to get in and get you out. This is complicated by the totally arbitrary rule of 'leg before wicket'

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      well explained about the basics

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      9 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      very detailed informations. well presented lens.

    • profile image

      regregerson 

      9 years ago

      Great lens. Thank you!

    • profile image

      ZazzleEnchante 

      9 years ago

      A very informative, well researched lens! Loved reading thru it!

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 

      9 years ago from Sydney Australia

      Great lens - more of the world should play cricket! Blessed by an angel

    • Yourshowman LM profile image

      Yourshowman LM 

      9 years ago

      Great lens

      I Love cricket.I am all-Rounder. Your lens helped to know more tricks and tips about my favorite game

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 

      9 years ago

      I was beginning to get the hang of it towards the end!

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 

      9 years ago

      I live near Trent Bridge in Nottingham. I played for the school cricket team, pretty good bowler, lousy batter. You've done a good job of explaining this strange game!

    • chrisqw profile imageAUTHOR

      chrisqw 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the kind comments. I'm glad its made cricket at least a bit more understandable!

    • divacratus 2 profile image

      divacratus 2 

      9 years ago

      Well explained! I love cricket but never really understood the game completely. You've made it easier for me. Thanks!

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 

      9 years ago

      I didn't know anything about cricket before. Recently it even happened that I called the bat a racket. Now I know better. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Thumbs up!

      Great lens... very informative. Thanks for the good read.

      -----------------------------

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    • profile image

      Sadheeskumar 

      9 years ago

      Nice lens about Cricket. I am a big cricket fan. I have created a few cricket related lens. If you got a time, visit my lenses. I am sure you will enjoy.

      1. Umpiring Signals

      2. Sachin Tendulkar

      3. M S Dhoni

      4. Virendar Sehwag

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Very nice, I can actually understand your explanation.

      Greetings from Minnesota, USA

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      I am officially a cricket widow so figured I might as well learn what the game is about since it's taken over my husband's life for the duration of the Ashes.

      This was a great explanation .... what are clever comments to make or interesting things to look out for. My husband is Australian and I am English so patronising comments are even better. He seems to think they are loads better than us but somehow didn't win?

      sfancelli@yahoo.co.uk

      Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Excellent!...I now think I know what a "wicket" is!...always wanted to know...thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Visiting Lord's next week for T20. Thank you very much for explaining this interesting game.

      Kind Regards.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      This helped me enormously, thanks. I'm a lady wanting to show interest in my new b/f's game. So now I know what he's talking about!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Thank u for theses explanations, it give the good basics to understand this beautiful game

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      11 years ago

      I quite enjoyed reading this and think it,s a great lens,keep it up and the best of luck.Cheers

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