I remember watching cricket on the television as a young boy, and I remember fondly listening to the Cricket Theme Music played at the start of every match. That’s when I became hooked on cricket, but it took me a long time to get the hang of it as it;s so complex.
To so aid other new viewers I’ve distilled my knowledge of cricket to give a basic rundown of the game and how it is played:
A Basic Guide To Cricket
Cricket is a bat and ball game played by two teams of eleven players. There are a few formats of the game but the basic principles are the same in all formats. Cricket matches can last for several days, or they could be played out in an afternoon. For example a ‘Test Match’ would be scheduled to be played out over five days, whereas a ‘Twenty20’ match will be finished in just a few hours.
The traditional cricket game is played over two ‘innings’. Each team has the opportunity to bat twice and bowl twice – it doesn’t always follow that this will happen, as the team that bats second can in theory bowl the other team out twice and having scored enough ‘runs’ to win the match without batting again.
The cricket bat is a flat blade of wood (usually willow) around 4.25 inches wide and 38 inches long with a handle spliced into the top.
The cricket ball is a hard cork and string construction bound by thick leather with one straight central seem. The dimensions and hardness are similar to a baseball.
The game is played on a field usually an oval shape and measuring anywhere between 90 and 150 metres in diameter, and in the centre, will be the pitch. The pitch is a rectangular strip of hard packed earth with a closely cropped grass surface 20 meters in length. At each end of the pitch are three vertical wooden ‘stumps’ (round posts 1 inch in diameter) around thigh height with two small wooden cross-pieces known as ‘bails’ perched on the top between the stumps. This structure is known as the wicket.
It is the batsman’s job to protect the wicket and to score ‘runs’ – and it is the bowlers job to dismiss the batsman through a number of means, the most obvious of which is to strike the wicket with the ball dislodging the bails.
Before the match begins a coin is tossed to decide the order of play. The team winning the toss gets to decide whether to bat first or to field first.
The fielding team will have all eleven players present on the field, while the batting team has two players. The remainder of the batting team will remain off field awaiting their turn to bat.
The fielding side will strategically locate players around the field to prevent runs being scored by the batting side. One of the fielding players is the Wicket Keeper and he stands behind the wicket to collect the ball if it is bowled past the batsman. The wicket keeper will wear webbed and padded gloves as well as leg pads and a protective helmet.
The fielding side will usually only have one wicket keeper but they may have several bowlers each of whom can take a turn to bowl.
The bowler will run in and deliver the ball (with an over-arm action) down the pitch at anywhere between 50 and 90 mph. The bowler is aiming to hit the stumps or coax the batsman into hitting the ball to a fielder to be caught. If the wicket is struck by the ball or the the ball is caught by a fielder (without first touching the ground), then the batsman is ‘out’ ie he has been dismissed and will be replaced by the next batsman in the team.
Each bowler will deliver a sequence 6 balls known as an ‘over’ before being rested while another bowler bowls another over from the other end of the pitch.
The batsman who is facing the bowler is ‘on strike’ and the other batsman at the opposite end of the pitch is the ‘non striker’.
The batsmen score runs by striking the ball after it’s been delivered by the bowler and running between the wickets as many times as they can before the fielding side can collect the ball and deliver it back to the centre.
If, while the batsmen are running between the wickets, the fielding side manage to strike the wicket with the ball before the batsman has reached the ‘crease’ (a line painted on the pitch just before the wicket) the batsman is ‘out’ (dismissed).
Batsman can also accrue ‘runs’ by striking the ball to the ‘boundary’ of the field. The boundary is usually marked by a continuous line or rope running around the circumference. If the ball reaches the boundary having touched the ground the batsman scores four runs without even having to run between the wickets. If the ball is struck over the boundary without touching the ground the batsman will score six runs, again without needing to physically run.
The bowling team aims to dismiss ten batsmen while conceding as few runs as possible. The eleventh batsman cannot bat alone, so the innings comes to an end with the loss of the tenth batsman.
The batting team aims to score as many runs as possible before all ten batsmen are dismissed.
There’s much more to this game than I’ve been able to cover here in this brief explanation but in essence, the team with the most runs wins.
I hope you found this explanation useful.