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    Cricket Explained - A Guide

    The Sport of Cricket Explained with Pictures, Videos, and Plain English

    Did you know that the Sport of Cricket is related to Baseball, in United States Cricket was played even before Baseball was invented. We have made an effort to explain the sport of cricket in this simple to understand guide. Words are a powerful way to communicate, pictures say a thousand words and with the technology evolving we have tried to incorporate videos that do a very good job in communicating the concepts in Cricket. We have researched and compiled information from various credible sources to complete this guide. We hope you find this guide helpful, assimilative and learn a great deal about cricket from this resource.

    Introduction:

    Cricket is one of the most and thrilling popular sports; it is played and enjoyed by millions throughout the world. Nothing is more exciting to watch than an evenly matched close contest of cricket. However despite this entertainment factor unfortunately the game of cricket is still not a common sport in many countries. Also due to complex rules, it can be very difficult for a newbie to figure out what is actually going on in the game. This guide will explain the game of cricket in a very simple yet interesting fashion.

     

    Cricket in a nutshell:

    Cricket is played among two teams of 11 players each. One team bats and the other fields. The toss is conducted before the start of play, the winning captain decides either to bat or field. The batting team sends two players on the field to bat. The batting team tries to score as many runs as possible within their allotted time or overs. The fielding team on the other side tries to restrict the batting team to a small total. Batsmen can score runs in a number of ways, they can also get penalty runs if the fielding team makes serious errors. Each bowler bowls an allotted number of overs in an innings. Each over consists of six balls and the bowler can't bowl two consecutive overs. The bowler with the help of other players (known as fielders) tries to get the batsman out. There are 10 ways a batsman can get out, when one batsman gets out another batsman comes to play. This continues till all 10 players of the batting team are out. Now the fielding team comes to bat. At the end of the game the team that scores more wins.

     

    Fundamentals:

    A cricket match is played among two sides/teams of eleven players each. The purpose of the game is to defeat the opponent by scoring more runs. The team that scores more runs at the end of the match wins. Now let's dig a bit deep into the game itself.

     

    The game of cricket has two major components

    1. Batting
    2. Fielding.

    Toss:

    A cricket match begins with the toss. Toss is held between the captains of both sides. A coin is tossed and one captain calls head or tail. The winning captain decides whether he wants to bat or field first. If he opts to bat the opposing team then fields, similarly if he chooses to field first then the opposing team has to bat first.

    Now if you are new to cricket you might be thinking what difference does it make whether you field or bat first? Actually, the toss plays a very crucial role in the game of cricket, in fact in some games toss can decide the end results of the game. We will discuss the effects of toss on the game at some other time. Let's say the winning captain decided to bat first.

     

    Batting:

    As mentioned earlier there are eleven players on a cricket team. Only two of them can bat at one time, the players who are batting are called batsmen (singular: batsman). Both teams bat in successive turns, each turn is known as an inning (plural: innings). The first two batsmen who come to bat from both sides are known as openers, as they open the innings for their team.

    The mission of the batsmen is to score as many runs as possible before the end of the innings. The bowling team tries to reduce the score to a minimum by preventing the batsmen from scoring. When the match begins two players from the batting side are sent to bat these are known as openers. When one batsman on the crease gets out another batsman replaces him to bat. This continues till one of the following conditions are met:

    • All the allotted overs have been bowled
    • All the batsmen have been out.
    • The team has won the match by scoring more than the opponents

    The whole process of scoring runs by batsmen, and the fielding team trying to restrict the batsmen is controlled by the laws of cricket. So now you know that batsman scores run for his team. But how are these runs scored?

    Scoring Runs:

    You can think of runs as points in table tennis, or if you are a baseball fan then runs in cricket are the same as runs in baseball. The team that scores more runs at the end of the match wins. In the game of cricket, there are many ways to score runs, these are explained below.

     

    Running between the wickets:

    A batsman can score one run if they run from one popping crease to another before the fielding team gets them run out. Running from one crease to another once will result in adding one run to the team's total; doing so twice will add two and so on (See Illustration 1 below). The only condition is that any of the batsmen don't get out either before scoring or during the process.

    batsman scoring runs
    One runs is scored when both batsman cross and reach the creases at opposite ends.
     

    Note: When a run is scored one run is added to the individual score of the batsman as well along with the team total. However individual score is for record only and it doesn't make any difference whatsoever on the game's output.

    Boundaries:

    Batsmen can hit boundaries to score runs as well. A boundary is similar to a home run in baseball. When a boundary is hit more than one run is awarded to the batsman. It can be considered as a bonus for hitting a good shot. There are two different types of boundaries.

    Four

    If the batsman hits the ball (with his bat) and it goes rolling past the boundary line a four is hit. When this shot is hit four runs are awarded to the batting side (and also to the batsman who hits it).

    Six

    If the batsman hits the ball (with his bat) and it goes flying past the boundary line without bouncing in front of it a six is hit. When this shot is hit six runs are awarded to the batting side (and also to the batsman who hits it).

    Penalty Runs:

    The batting team can also get penalty points if any player of the fielding team commits a foul. These runs can be scored if a no or wide ball is bowled by the bowler. There are some rare situations in which the batting team can get penalty runs as well these for example if any player on the fielding side stops the ball with his hat or helmet, in that scenario five runs are awarded to the fielding side. The terms used here as no ball etc will be described later in the guide. Penalty runs are not awarded to the individual batsman rather they are added to the team total, only exception is the overthrows in which the batsman who hit the shot also gets a score.

    Note: If the boundary has been hit then the score from running between the wickets doesn't count on that particular shot.

    Fielding:

    Fielding is the second component of cricket. The fielding team is the team that is not batting, the aim of the fielding team is to restrict the opposing batting team to as small a scoring total as possible. Just like batting fielding is also done in successive turns. When the team batting first gets out then the fielding team goes to batting and the team that was bowled out fields. The fielding team restricts the opponents from scoring through the bowling department. The term fielding is actually a generic term used for both bowling and fielding collectively. One bowler bowls at one time and the other 10 players on the fielding team field are known as fielders.

    Bowling:

    Bowler is the player from the fielding team that is trying to get the wicket of batsmen on the crease. Each bowler bowls six balls at a time; this is known as an over. When the over is completed the next bowler comes and bowls an over. This continues till all the allotted overs have been bowled or the batting team gets out. One bowler can't bowl more than one over consecutively. Similarly, a bowler can't bowl moreover than his allotted quota.

    Getting Out:

    The bowler from the fielding team tries to bowl all the players of the opposing team out. As there are numerous ways to score runs for a batsman similarly there are many ways for a bowler to get opposing player out. The first five methods listed below are very common the last 5 however are very, very rare.

    1. Bowled out: If the bowler bowls a legal delivery and the ball hits the wicket before the batsman hits the ball.
    2. Catch out: If the bowler bowls legal delivery, the batsman hits the ball with his bat and any player of the fielding team catches it before hitting the ground. Both the catcher and the ball have to remain inside the boundary line; otherwise, it will be a six and not a catch.
    3. Run-out: If any player of the fielding team hits the wickets with the ball at a time when the batsman at that end of the pitch was outside of his crease and no boundary was scored.
    4. Stump Out: If the batsman was out of his crease when playing the shot and the wicket-keeper hits the wicket after catching the ball.
    5. Leg Before wicket: If the legal delivery was bowled and the ball was going to hit the wickets but it hit the batsman's leg(s) and deviated then the fielding team appeals and the standing umpire adjudges the batsman out.
    6. Hit Wicket: If the batsman either intentionally or un-intentionally hits the wickets when he was playing the shot with his bat or any part of the body.
    7. Handling the Bowl: If the batsman touches the ball when it was in play with his hands either intentionally or un-intentionally after he has hit the shot.
    8. Timed Out: If one batsman gets out and the other batsman takes more than 3 minutes to arrive at the crease the next batsman is considered out.
    9. Double Hit: If Batsman hits the bowl again after hitting it once.
    10. Obstructing the field: If a batsman intentionally becomes an obstruction in the way of the ball or fielder after hitting it.

    Fielding Positions:

    One bowler bowls to the batsman at a time and the remaining 10 players of the fielding team field. These 10 players are known as fielders. Notice that once the bowler has completed his over (six balls) then he becomes a fielder and another player becomes bowler. Here are some important fielding positions in the game of cricket.

    Note: The 10 players of the fielding team (except the wicketkeeper) can occupy any of the positions denoted by a dot in the image below. These fielding positions change throughout the match and the captain is responsible for setting up the field accordingly to his bowling plan.

    Fielding Positions

     

    Match Officials:

    Just like any other professional sports, the game of cricket has also match officials who make sure that everything is according to the laws of the game. These match officials are appointed by ICC before the start of the series or match. There are five match officials in an international cricket match.

    Two on-field umpires:

    There are two umpires who remain on-field throughout the match. One umpire stands at the bowling crease and the other one known as leg-umpire stands at the leg side. The umpire standing at the bowling end is responsible to judge whether legal delivery is bowled, and also whether or not the batsman has been bowled out. Both umpires consult with each other to make difficult or controversial decisions. Both umpires switch positions after every over.

    Third Umpire:

    The third umpire (also called the TV umpire) is responsible to review a challenge. These challenges can be called by on-field umpires (Umpire reviews) or by the captain of the fielding team or the batsman (the Umpire decision review).

    Fourth Umpire:

    The fourth umpire makes sure that everything is in proper order both on and off the field. He is responsible for changing or replacing the ball, delivering any equipment required to the umpires, and also clearing the side screen and batsman's line of sight.

    Match Referee:

    The match referee is responsible to ensure that game is played in good spirit. He observes the behaviors of the players on the field and sends his report to ICC after each match.

    Umpiring Signals:

    In cricket, umpires represent different events with gestures. These are:

    Umpires signaling

     

    Playing area:

    The field on which the game of cricket is played is known as a cricket ground. The international cricket ground is either circular or oval in shape. There is no fixed size of the cricket field however it should not be less than 90 meters and not more than 150 meters. The field is covered with grass; on some grounds, artificial turf is also used. A boundary line marks the end of the playing field. A Boundary line is usually made of rope or fence.

    The pitch:

    Pitch is a 22-yard strip in the center of the ground on which the batsman faces the bowler. Both ends of the pitch are marked by white lines known as the crease. At both ends of the pitch are stumped. Bowler bowls from one side of the pitch and that is known as the bowling end. The bowling end is switched after every over. The end at which the batsman faces the bowler is known as the batting end.

    Important Terms:

    PitchSee pitch in the playing area.

    Bat: The bat is wooden equipment that the batsman uses to strike the ball. It is made up of willow wood therefore it is also known as the willow.

    Stumps/ WicketsWickets are three wooden circular bars every 28 inches above the playing surface. According to the laws of cricket the wickets have to be a dome in shape. The diameter of the stump can't be less than 3.49 cm or more than 3.8 cm.CreaseWhite line at both ends of the pitch.In-playThe ball in-play is a term used if the ball has not crossed the boundary line.

    On-field Any player who is on the ground inside the playing area and participating in the game.

    Sight ScreenThe black or white screen outside the boundary line at both ends of the ground in front of wickets. It is installed so that the batsman can see the ball clearly and doesn't lose it in the background.InningsThe whole turn of the batting team.

    Ball/delivery The whole process of bowler bowling the ball and the batsman playing or missing the shot.

    OverConsists of six legal deliveries. 

    Legal delivery The delivery is not a no, wide, or dead ball.

    No-ballIf the bowler bowls the ball in such a way that his front or back foot was in front of the crease.

    Wide-ball If the bowler bowls a ball so wide that batsman can't play an orthodox shot.

    Dead-Ball A ball that bounces twice or was somehow impossible for the batsman to play.

    Notice: No, wide and dead balls are all illegal deliveries and the bowler has to bowl them again. In case of no and wide ball one run is awarded to the batting team. All three deliveries are decided and judged by the on-field umpires.

    Bowling quotas a One-day International game each bowler is allowed to bowl 10 overs only. In a T20 International, one bowler can only bowl 4 overs.

    Forms of the Game:

    Cricket has evolved over the years and now there are three different forms of the game that are practiced at the international level.

    Test Cricket:

    Test cricket is the oldest form of cricket. It is known as test cricket because it is the most difficult and testing form of cricket. The test match lasts for 5 days and consists of 4 innings. Each team bats twice during the match in successive turns. White kit and the red ball are used by all the players in test cricket. One test match continues till all four innings have been completed or when the final session of the fifth day completes. A day of test cricket consists of three different sessions each containing a maximum of 30 overs each. The number of overs in a session depends upon many factors including the weather conditions. So a maximum of 90 overs are bowled in a day total of 450 overs in a match, however, usually, the test matches can end up early if all four innings have been completed. If all four innings could not be completed within 5 days then the match ends in a draw.

    One Day International:

    The one-day International is the most frequently played form of cricket. A one-day match only consists of 100 overs, each team gets 50 overs to bat. If the team gets out before playing the entire 50 overs then the other team starts batting, so one team can play a maximum of 50 overs in a one-day international game. In ODI the players wear colored kits and a white ball is used.

    T20 Cricket:

    T20 is the shortest and most entertaining form of cricket. A T20 match (short for Twenty-Twenty) consists of only 40 overs. Each team bats for a maximum of 20 overs before the other team starts its innings. THE whole T20 match ends up in 3-4 hours' time. As T20 games are mostly to please crowds, therefore, small boundary lines are used so that the maximum number of runs could be scored.

    International Cricket Council:

    Just like all other professional games cricket has also a governing body that controls and organizes everything associated with it. The governing body of cricket is known as the International Cricket Council or ICC. The ICC is responsible for organizing cricket's major tournaments, imposing anti-corruption laws, and appointing match officials. An important thing to notice is that unlike other major sports ICC is not responsible for making the laws of the game and organizing friendly series between its member countries. ICC was established in early 1909, back then Lord's stadium in London was the head office, but recently it has been shifted to Dubai Cricket Stadium.

    Member Countries:

    The member countries of ICC can play International cricket and can participate in ICC tournaments. Each member country has its own cricket board that is responsible for organizing the domestic cricket within its domain and organizing the series with other countries through inter-board communication. There are 10 full members, 36 associate members, and 59 affiliate members of ICC. A full list of all these countries can be found by visiting the website listed in the resources section.

    Records:

    Here is the list of notable records in the history of cricket.

    ODI:

    • Most world cup wins: Australia-4
    • Highest Team Score in ODI: 443 Sri Lanka
    • Highest Individual Score in ODI: 200 Sachin Tendulkar (India)
    • Highest Career Runs in ODI: 18,000+ Sachin Tendulkar (India)
    • Most Centuries in ODI: 45+ Sachin Tendulkar
    • Most wickets in ODI: 534 Muralitharan Sri Lanka

    Test Cricket:

    • Greatest win by margin: Innings and 579 run England beat Australia 1938.
    • Most Consecutive wins: Australia 16
    • Lowest Total in innings: New Zealand: 26
    • Highest Average: Sir Don. Bradman:99.95

    Resources and further reading: