A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Cricket
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.
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.
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!