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Elements of cricket

Updated on December 5, 2010


By definition, Cricket is a form of outdoor sports, which is played by two teams with bat, ball and field, in an oval shaped area. It carries a set of regulations and an umpire to implement them.

Cricket is known worldwide as a sensational game, which creates tremendous amount of hype and thrill in the hearts of cricket lovers around the globe. It is known as a gentlemen’s game, but its viewership includes women, children and aged people from all around the world.

It is somewhat similar to the baseball in its functioning, but the rules and regulations are different.


Cricket became popular in early 70s. Since then, it is said to be originated from England in 1975. In recent times, it is organized on the international level under the supervision of ICC International Cricket Council. The headquarters of ICC is in Dubai, UAE.

Objective of the game

The game starts when a coin is tossed in the air to shift the first bating or bowling decision for the captain (of the team), who wins the toss. The objective of this game is to score maximum runs in its turn to bat, called as an innings.


Each team comprises of 11 players entitled to play in a match by the authorities. The players can be regarded as batsmen or bowlers depending upon their level of skills in respective fields. A player, who has a balanced performance, is an all-rounder.

The number of batsmen in a team is mostly 5 – 6, while the number of bowlers is 4 – 5. 


The key functions that players have to perform are:

·         Bating

·         Bowling

·         Fielding


Batsman:The batsman has to score runs by hitting the ball to the field. If the ball crosses boundary without being held by the fielder, score is four and if it flies straight away from the boundary without touching the ground, it is called a sixer i.e., 6 runs.

A batsman can also run between the wickets to make runs. A wicket-to-wicket running from one end to the other of the pitch confines one run.

Two batsmen are allowed on the field at a time with one holding the strike. The rest of team players wait in the pavilion area for their turn. A batsman is out when:

· The ball/bat hits the bails

· The ball stroked by the batsman flies in the air and gets caught

· The leg before wicket appeal (l.b.w) made by the bowler is approved by the umpire

· In case of run out; when the ball returned by the fielder struck bails off before the batsman is in the crease.

Bowler:It is the job of a bowler to throw ball to the batsman with a particular line and length. The aim of the bowler however, should be to limit score to the minimum and to dismiss the batsman.

An inning is divided into overs and an over is divided into 6 balls delivered. The overs vary with the type of cricket, whereas, the number of balls vary if there are wide or no ball attempts from the bowler. No bowler can bowl two consecutive overs. A bowler can try bouncers, Yorkers, in and off swings and spin the ball to get it in the right area to dismiss the batsman. The line and length however, is a crucial factor, which has to be maintained anyway.

Fielder:All the players in a team have to field when the bowler of the team is bowling and the opposite team is on the bat. Fielding is about saving runs by picking, catching and stopping the ball within the boundary when a batsman of the opponent team strikes. All of the fielders are committed to perform same task and can shift positions according to the instruction of their team captain.

However, the Wicket keeper has to guard stumps, wear gloves to catch the ball in case of missed delivery or catch coming near the stumps.

Field Dimensions

The field is a circular ground with lush green grass and its dimensions are not fixed. The radius of the field is 137m - 150m (450 – 500 feet).

The boundary of the field is defined by a rope, which sets border of the ground separating it from rest of the stadium.

Pitch: The rectangular ground patch in the middle, with a little bit of grass on it, is called a Pitch. One end of pitch is used as batting area and the other end as bowling area. The size of the pitch is 20.12m in length and 3.05m in width.

Wickets:Three upright wooden sticks called wickets are fixed in the ground at both ends of the pitch with a height of 71.1 cm and width of 22.86cm. Two cross pieces of wood, the bails, sit in a furrow over these wickets.

The word wicket is used in multiple ways, whereas, in cricket language, it can be referred to:

  •  Stumps and bails
  •  The pitch
  •  Batsman out/not-out
  •  To get batsman out


Painted lines on the pitch to adjudge dismissal of the batsman, while running between the wickets or leaving batting end after a bowl is delivered.

A crease is drawn across the pitch, which aligns stumps to its width.

Bowling crease is 2.64m (8 feet 8 inches) in length.

Distance between the two creases is 20.12m.

The batting (popping) crease is 1.22m in front of the stumps at each end, with the stumps set along the bowling crease.

Return creases are situated at right angles to the batting and bowling creases and are measured 1.32m either side of the middle stumps.

Umpires: In cricket, there are two umpires on the field.

  •  The position of first umpire is behind the stumps, facing towards the batsman to declare most on-the-spot decisions.
  •  Striker end Umpire or square leg umpire gives side view of the batsman, playing an assistant’s role.
  •  An off field third umpire is provided with visual-replays facility in a separate room at the stadium to supervise laws and spirit of the game. He makes decisions, which are forwarded by the field umpires.
  •  Reserved Umpire is also present for emergencies.
  •  An official scorer is present to ensure fair recording of the runs and overs.

Forms of Cricket

Depending upon their duration, number of innings and overs, cricket series is categorized into 3 major forms:

  • Test Cricket series
  • One Day Internationals (ODI)
  • Twenty-twenty series (T-20)

Test Series:

It is one of the most popular forms of cricket. A series usually comprises of a five test matches. Most of the matches are often finished before time. This form of cricket, aims to keep spirit of early cricket, alive. A five days long match gives clear cut evaluation of a team’s performance. The stamina, technique and skill of a batsman, bowler, fielder or a wicket keeper is further used to rank the team overall and the players individually, at the end of each series.

Time Duration:

Time duration is five days and about six hours of play time each day. Each team has to bowl out the whole competitor team, twice. A day is divided into three sessions, with a 40-mins lunch break and a 20-mins tea break with periodic breaks for drinks.


Test series comprise of two innings per team. An innings ends either when all team is out or when the bating team’s captain declares the innings. If the second innings is not complete and the bating line is still playing at the last day of match, then the match is declared as a ‘draw.’ The number of innings is interrupted in case of Follow on, which occurs when the second team is all out on a fewer runs than the first team.


At least 90 overs have to be bowled each day. If at the time of stumps, the required number of overs is not bowled, play is extended to complete it. Minimum is calculated by dividing remaining time of play in mins by 4. At last day, 15 overs are added to the calculated minimum.

In case of poor weather, the match is delayed. In poor light the umpires put decision to the batsman for further proceeding of the match.

Ball Dimensions:

A test cricket ball is red in color. It has a weight of 155.9 and 163.0 g (5 and 5.75 ounces) and measure between 8 13/16 and 9 in (224 and 229 mm) in circumference. A new ball is given at the start of each innings. The ball is replaced, in case, after 80 overs on fielding captain request, if the ball is damaged or lost or has reshaped.


Cricket whites or white flannels are to be used while playing a test series. It increases visibility of red ball as compared to white color. The color is helpful in avoiding heat on field, all day long.

One Day Internationals (ODI)

Time Duration:

As the name indicates, the match has to culminate in one day, so, time is restricted in one day internationals to; approximately 210 mins (3, 1/2 hrs). It is one of the most exciting forms of cricket, which bring into light, the era of players in colored uniform, night match with flood lights, sight screens in darkness, and multiple camera angles.


There is a single inning per team during which, the first team sets a target for the other team to achieve.


 Fifty overs have to be bowled in one day internationals. The number may be varied by umpires by one or two overs, if there is a light problem or extra time has been consumed by the bowling team. Number of overs per bowler is also fixed, i.e. 10 overs for each bowler. Strict rules on wide balls and short deliveries are applied.

Winning Criteria:

The team with greater scores/runs wins.

Ball Characteristics:

In international matches, the ball used, has a weight of 155.9 and 163.0 g (5 and 5.75 ounces) and it measures between 8 13/16 and 9 (224 and 229 mm) in circumference. Balls used in women's and youth matches are somewhat smaller.

It is white in color, to be visible during day night matches. The composition is mainly cork and leather that proves to be really lethal; in case if an injury is caused by it. To avoid such injuries, batsmen and wicket keepers use headgears and other accessories.

Either a single ball is used or two new balls are used for the two innings.

Uniform: Colored uniform of the representative country is used to specify and distinguish teams from one another; also it increases visibility for the spectators in a day-night match.

Fielding Restrictions:

In one day internationals, a rule known as powerplay is set to make the game more exciting, providing room for the batsman to play aggressive and risky game. During powerplay 1, which is the first 10 overs of the match, only two fielders are allowed to be outside the 30 yard circle, while at least two players are placed on the catching positions, close to the batsman.

Two more blocks of 5 overs are implemented during any time of the match, in between next 40 overs. The bating team decides second and third powerplay, in which three fielders are allowed outside the 30 yard circle, is scheduled onwards. Previously, the fielding captain was given the responsibility to decide initiation of second and third powerplays, but later on, it was transferred to the bating team to increase thrill of the game.

Substitution Rule

One substitute is allowed to play (bat, ball and field), which is 12th nominated player of the team. A player can return and continue game at anytime. The replaced player cannot continue game, once the player returns, however, he is entitled to make his own records, when on field.


The World Cup:

  •  International Cricket Council decides venue
  •  Is played between all Test nations and qualifying nations
  •  Starts with a round-robin group stage, a Super Six stage, semifinals, and finals.
  •  Held once in four years

ICC Champions Trophy:

  • International Cricket Council selects venue
  • Involves all Test nations and qualifying nations
  • If a team is lost in a single game, it is "knocked out" of the tournament (knock out games)
  • Arranged once in four years between World Cup series

One-day International Series:

  •  Usually the venue is one of the two participating nations
  •  Comprises of three to seven games; all matches are played even if series result is  determined
  •  Involves two teams
  •  Played when one nation "tours" another, as scheduled by ICC

Triangular Tournament:

  • Involves three teams
  • Consists of a round-robin group stage, each team playing other two or three times, and a final
  • Arranged in one of the three participating nations or in neutral venues

Winning Criteria:

The team with greater runs at the end of both innings with or without wickets in hand wins. If the game ties, then the number of wickets lost is considered as criteria.

Twenty-Twenty Series (T-20):

Time Duration:

This form of cricket has recently emerged i.e. in 2003, and has been massively appreciated around the world. It has duration of approximately 75 mins (1 hr 15 min), which is set forth to bring cricket to an equal level of other cricket forms.


One inning per team is to be played.


Twenty overs are to be played in this type of match unlike one day international.

Rules of Twenty-Twenty:

  • A free hit is awarded to the batsman, if the bowler throws ‘no ball’
  • One of the controversial rules of twenty-20 is that; umpires can award one team, when the other team is wasting time.
  • Keeping in view the time specialty of the twenty-20 matches, an extra 6 runs are awarded to the opponent team, if the bowling team fails to complete 20 overs in 75 mins (3 hours)
  • Each bowler can ball 4 overs only
  • Only five fielders can be placed on the leg side, with a maximum of two fielders out of 30 yards’ ring during first 6 overs and five fielders outside the ring for remaining 14 overs.
  • Five bowlers from each team bowl two balls to the wicket in case of a tie and the team with more number of bails off, is declared a winner


Colored uniform of representative country is used.

Winning Criteria:

The team with greater runs at the end of both innings with or without wickets in hand wins.


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