Twenty20 Cricket For Dummies
The New Cricket, an explanation
This lens is written for 2 sorts of people: those who basically understand conventional cricket but who are unsure of the different rules and emphases of T20 cricket and secondly those to whom the whole world of cricket is a boring, meaningless blur.(also known as Americans). Sorry, just a joke.
Definition: Twenty twenty cricket is the newest form of the game and I shall henceforth refer to it as T20 cricket, so T20 equals Twenty twenty.
Those of you who don't understand the basic idea of cricket could do worse than read my earlier lens:'Cricket Explained for Dummies' If that sounds too highbrow, and, let's face it, it does involve moving the mouse once or twice, then in that case pin your ears back.
Cricket is basically a simple game. Honestly. One side starts by batting. They try to score runs. The other team are the bowling/fielding side and they try to capture the wickets of the batsmen and also to prevent them scoring runs.
Then the sides swap roles and the bowling side becomes the batters and in their turn try to score runs. The side which scores the most runs wins the match. And that's it. Well, apart from about a trillion rules, that is. But the purpose of this lens is education with entertainment and we're going to forget the niceties and stick to the basics.
Actually T20 is the easiest form of cricket to learn. Some people would say its also the most exciting. And although I love the long form of the game (and an international match can last 5 or even 6 days), I have grown to love T20. It is genuinely exciting and a real spectacle.
Let's move on to an imaginary game. Reds versus Blues. Eleven men a side, including one specialist wicket keeper - he's the only member of the fielding side wearing pads, and who stands behind the stumps - the stumps are the 3 pieces of wood which the batsman protects, also known as his wicket. The captains toss up and Reds win. They decide to field first. That way when they bat they'll know what score they have to beat.
So Blues come out to bat. Only two batsmen at a time are on the field. The first two are known as the Openers. They have to deal with the opposition fast bowlers when they're all fired up and frisky,...and,well....fast.... . The top bowlers fire the ball down at over 80mph, and the ball is extremely hard. If it hits you, it hurts. At that speed the batsman has a split second to see the blur, sorry, the ball, decide on what shot to play, get into position, and play the shot..
This Guy is Not Your Friend - He Hates Batsmen
OK, this is the batsman's view of a fast bowler, Most fast bowlers are about 6'4", and weigh about 200lbs, mostly muscle, without an ounce of spare flesh. They're young, fit, and completely without fear. You probably think this guy means you harm. You're probably right.
. One error of judgement probably won't kill you, but if the ball hits you it leaves a nasty bruise or broken bones, and if it doesn't hit you it may well hit your wicket (the three pieces of wood) and you're 'Out'. You have to walk back to the Pavilion/ Changing Room/Locker Room and if you haven't scored any runs (that's called 'scoring a duck') then it's a very long walk indeed, and silent. And on the way back you pass the next batsman on your side coming in to take his turn. He'll probably whisper out of the corner of his mouth something fatuous, possibly insincere and certainly unnecessary, like, "Bad Luck".
So the Reds are the bowling/fielding side. They have to bowl 20 overs and then its their turn to bat and the Blues will become the bowling side. An Over comprises 6 'balls', or 'deliveries'. So 20 overs is 20 multiplied by 6 which is, wait for it, 120 deliveries per side.
And that's the beauty of T20 cricket, its simplicity. And the fact that there's a recognisable end in sight right from the first ball. And because its reasonably short, the batsmen have to be aggressive. They need to score boundaries rather than ones and twos. A ball which reaches the perimeter of the field - the 'boundary' - is worth six runs if it doesn't bounce and four runs if it bounces before reaching the perimeter.
And that's it really. The Blues bat and score 162 runs in their 20 Overs (120 balls). When, after a 15 minute break, the Reds go in to bat they don't do too well and start to lose wickets. That means the bowlers get the Red batsmen 'out' either by bowling them out, (hitting the stumps when they bowl), getting them caught (the batsman hits the ball and a fielder catches it before it bounces) or the batsman gets 'run out' (he goes for a run but a fielder throws the wicket down before the batsman gets to the 'safe' area marked by a white line called the 'crease'). When the Red team have lost 10 batsman and have scored 124 runs they lose the match, even though they have faced only 114 balls. This is because the one batsman they have left cannot bat on his own. There has to be 2 batsmen at the wicket. So whilst the batsmen try to be aggressive and score runs, they also have to be careful and try to preserve their wicket. Once they're 'out' there's no second chances.
Often, there's an exciting ending in T20 Cricket. The last few overs become full of nail-biting tension as the batsmen try to get the runs required to win. And there has to be a winner. If the scores are tied at the end of a match, which is very rare, an 'Eliiminator' is played. This means that each team has six balls to score as many runs as possible. If the scores are still tied, then victory goes to the side which has scored most sixes.
Here's a video of part of a recent T20 international game between India and Australia. It gives you some of the flavor, the atmosphere. Its a game where the Indian batsmen have decided to 'take on' the Aussie bowlers. And that means plenty of action, plenty of 6's and 4's and quite a few wickets too. T20 at its best. Watch and enjoy.
India v Australia - 2007 Great Action
Cricket General Reference
- Cricket For Dummies
A brief introduction to the game. If you've played cricket , you can skip it. Otherwise, its essential reading.
I hope this brief introduction to T20 Cricket has perhaps whetted your appetite to watch or even play the game. I've tried to do it justice and, take it from me, its a genuinely exciting sport to either play or watch. Enjoy!