Cricket Explained for Dummies
Keep It Simple Stupid - especially cricket
Like all great world sports, cricket is at heart, a very simple game. One player throws a ball, another tries to hit it. But, like all sports, it has to have a set of rules to play by, which have to be learned, and specific terminology which can be complicated and very confusing.
In addition, Cricket, uniquely has a moral code, a 'fair play' ethos, which still exists at all levels of the game. Thus it has introduced expressions into the English language such as 'Its not cricket', 'play with a straight bat' and 'sticky wicket' which are routinely used in situations completey divorced from the game.
I am a cricket enthusiast from England and I am going to try to lift some of the layers of confusion from the game and in the process, I hope to show what an utterly magical and compelling spectacle it can be.
And yes, I'm not going to clutter my explanations with too many complications. I will 'Keep It Simple Stupid'.
The absolute, absolute basics
No fuss or frills
There are 2 sorts of cricket - long (3 to 5 days)and short (1 day). I will start by describing short cricket which is by far the easier to explain. Then I will explain long cricket, which is the traditional game. For the purposes of explanation I will use a match between 2 village teams called, imaginatively, Team A and Team B.
Cricket is played between 2 teams of 11 men a side. Matches are officiated over by 2 umpires (referees) - and their decision is final.
The aim of the game is to score more runs than the opposition. Yes, its that simple!
The captains toss up to see which side will bat first. The winner of the toss can elect to bat first or bowl/field first. In our imaginary game Team A will bat first. They will have their 'Innings'.
First definition - INNINGS
It's a singular, AND a plural
The word Innings is used to describe a team's or an individual's turn at batting.
Thus a batsman can 'play a good innings' or a whole team can have a 'first innings' or (in long cricket) a 'second innings'.
NB The word 'inning' does not exist in cricket, only in baseball. Thus a batsman can play one 'innings' or, over a career, hundreds of 'innings'.
The batsman is the person holding the bat - yes.
This is what happens when a side, in our case, Team A, has its innings: they send in their first two in their batting order. The remainder of the batting team wait off the field for their turn to bat.
Team B, meanwhile, who are the 'Fielding Side' put all 11 of their players on the pich.
In cricket, unlike Baseball, two "batsmen" are up at a time, not one. They bat and bat and bat and bat until one of them is 'out'. Then he has to leave the field and the third man in the order replaces him. Then those two bat and bat and bat until one of them is out. Then that person is replaced by the fourth person in the order, and so on. This goes on until ten of the eleven are out. Then the innings is over, because the last person cannot bat alone, you need two to bat in cricket. After ten people are out, the other team has their innings.
One batsman stands at each wicket. The batsman farthest from the bowler is the 'striker', the other is the 'non-striker'. The striker stands before his wicket, and awaits the ball.
Video - The Basics of Batting
When the batsman is out he has 'lost his wicket'.
Secondly - Caught - the batsman hits the ball and one of the fielding side catches it before it touches the ground
Thirdly - Stumped - If the batsman misses a ball and steps outside the batting crease, (that's the white line in front of the stumps) the wicket-keeper will catch the ball and break the wicket before the batsman can get back inside the crease.
Fourthly - Run Out - A run-out is when the batsmen are going for a run or runs and the fielder collects the ball and throws down the wicket before the batsman can get into the 'safe' territory of the batting crease.
Run-outs are always difficult decisions for umpires to make because it all happens so fast. That's why at the highest level the third umpire, who can watch video replays, is often called on to make those tight decisions.
Fifthly - LBW - If the ball hits the batsman's leg and an umpire rules it
would have hit the wicket if the leg hadn't been there, the batsman is out because he must "defend his wicket" only with his bat, not with his leg. This is called "LBW" which stands for "leg before wicket."
Bowled out - Some top batsmen getting bowled out
The bowler is the one who bowls the ball to the batsman. Honestly.
The game progresses by the bowling of balls. The sequence of events which constitutes a ball is as follows:
The fielding team disperses around the field, to positions designed to stop runs being scored or to get batsmen out. One of the fielding side is the bowler. He takes the ball and stands some distance behind one of the wickets. Another fielder is the wicket-keeper, who wears a pair of webbed gloves designed for catching the ball and protective pads covering the shins. He waits behind the opposite wicket. The rest of the fielders have no special equipment - gloves to assist catching the ball are not allowed to anyone but the wicket-keeper.
The bowler takes a run-up from behind the non-striker's wicket. He passes to one side of the wicket, and when he reaches the non-striker's wicket he bowls the ball towards the striker, usually bouncing the ball once on the pitch before it reaches the striker.
The striker may then attempt to hit the ball with his bat. If he misses it, the wicket-keeper will catch it and the ball is completed. If he hits it, the two batsmen may score runs (described later). After hitting the ball, the batsman DOES NOT HAVE TO RUN. He may run if he wants to or he can stand there for hours just tapping the ball away from the wicket. When the runs are completed, the ball is also considered completed.
Once the ball is dead, it is returned to the bowler for the next delivery (another name for the bowling of a ball). Between deliveries, the batsmen may leave their creases and confer with each other.
When one bowler has completed six balls, that constitutes 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, so long as no bowler delivers two consecutive overs. Once a bowler begins an over, he must complete it, unless injured or suspended during the over.
Video - The Basics of Bowling
Basic Cricket Equipment
Cricket balls are traditionally dyed red, and red balls are used in Test cricket and First-class cricket. White balls were introduced when one-day matches began being played at night under floodlights, as they are more visible at night.
The materials used to make cricket balls are the same now as in the 1700s. They are made from cork and latex rubber on the inside with leather on the outside, with a slightly raised sewn seam. The "equator" of the ball is stitched with string to form the seam, with a total of six rows of stitches.
The slightly raised seam means that, uniquely, a cricket ball is not completely round. Some bowlers exploit this by bowling on the seam to produce grip and deviation. Also, with one side of the ball polished and the other rough, differential air pressure will cause it to swing in the air, making it very difficult for the batsman to play. This is why you see some bowlers vigorously polishing the ball on their trousers.
Fourth Definition - A RUN
We're not talking jogging
A run is the basic unit of scoring. Runs are scored by a batsman, and the total of the scores of the team's batsmen constitutes the team's score. A run is scored by the batsmen running between the
In addition to scoring runs like this, if a batsman hits the ball so that it reaches the boundary fence, he scores four runs, without needing to actually run them. If a batsman hits the ball over the boundary on the full, he scores six runs.
One Day Cricket and Traditional Cricket
Easy isn't it?
Just to summarise our imaginary one day match. Two teams, A and B. Team A bats first and in their 40 overs score 210 runs. Team B then have their innings but only manage 192 runs before they're all out. So Team A are the winners. This form of of cricket is extremely popular - its exciting, a result is guaranteed, and its over in a few hours.
Traditional cricket is not over in a few hours as it lasts for, usually, 3 days, up to 5 or even 6 days for international matches (known as Test Matches.) Unlike one day cricket each side bats twice - in other words, has two innings each. The total of each side's two innings is the deciding factor in the result.
If a traditional cricket match is not completely finished when time runs out, the match is a draw, no matter how lopsided the score may be. If rain stops play during a match, suprise, suprise, the time is NOT MADE UP! Only got three days to play a five- day match? Better hurry!
That's all for now
Ok, i think we've covered enough ground for starters. Before anyone reminds me, I know we haven't discussed extras, no balls, short runs, wides, bouncers, hit wicket, declaration, googlies, silly mid off etc etc They will have to wait for another time.
As I said at the start I've 'kept it simple stupid' and that means leaving things out. I hope the above short explanation has made this great game a bit easier to understand and, above all, to enjoy.