Cricket is a game based on runs, just like soccer is based on goals, basketball by points etc. The aim of the game of cricket is to score more runs while batting and make it difficult for the opposition to score runs when they are batting. If electing to bowl/field first, the team’s aim is to limit the opposition runs so that when they come to bat the total required to win will be achievable.
The game is played by two teams of 11 players, and a 12th man who can be used as an emergency substitute fielder but who cannot bat or bowl. The two teams of 11 players take turns to bat and bowl. Teams will have specialist batsmen, specialist bowlers, ‘all-rounders’ who can do both, and one wicket-keeper.
Batting is hitting the ball and running between the wickets, or hitting the ball over the boundary ropes, to make runs. Bowling/fielding is to restrict runs and dismiss batsmen. Just as soccer is played on a pitch, and basketball is played on a court, cricket is played on a pitch in the shape of an oval. The playing area for cricket where the action majorly takes place is a 22-yard grass, concrete or laterite strip in the middle of the oval. (Internationally, grass is the surface recommended for games).
Cricket Mode of Dismissals
The most common methods that the bowling team can get a batsman out is by the ball hitting the wicket/stump, catching the ball, running out the batsman, taking off the bails when a batsman is out of his crease (stumped), a batsman hitting their wicket and dislodging the bails or when the ball hits the batsman’s leg in front of the wicket (Leg Before Wicket/LBW).
More obscure ways of dismissing a batsman include obstruction of the fielders/bowling team by the batsman, ball handling by the batman or hitting the ball twice.
In limited over cricket, once a batting team is “all out” or have finished their required number of overs, they switch. The batting team then becomes the bowling team, and the bowling team becomes the batting team. In test match or matches with two innings, a batting team can also declare at their current score to end their innings.
Notable Cricket Equipment
Wickets/Stumps: These are three sticks at both ends of the 22-yard playing area.
Bails: These are 4 in numbers, and 2 are placed at the top of both wickets/stumps. This will help identify a slight touch by the ball on the wicket. Once it falls off the batsman is dismissed.
Sightscreen: A screen placed behind the boundary known as the sightscreen. This is aligned exactly parallel to the width of the pitch and behind both pairs of wickets which helps the batman keep sight of the ball.
Boundary: This is a rope or pegs. The moment a ball crosses past or over the boundary, the umpire gives a declaration to that effect. If the ball goes over the boundary without bouncing, it is six runs, if the ball touches the ground first before going over, it is four runs.
Common Cricket Terminology
- All Out: An innings has ended as the batting side has run out of wickets.
- Appeal: A bowler or fielder ‘appeals’ to the umpire to dismiss a batsman, often in the case of a catch where it was not obvious if the ball had hit the bat, or in the case of a Leg Before Wicket claim.
- Beamer: An illegitimate ball which is bowled to the batsman above waist height without bouncing.
- Bouncer: A ball bowled by a fast bowler which is short pitched and bounces up around head height.
- Bye: When the batsmen make a run as normal, but the ball has not touched the bat or any part of the batsman.
- Carry the Bat: A batsman who has opened the innings and, when all the rest of team have been dismissed, remains not out.
- Caught and Bowled: When a batsman is dismissed by the bowler catching the ball.
- Clean Bowled: Where the ball hits the wickets directly without the batsman touching it.
- Crease: A line near the stumps which the batsman has to reach when attempting a run.
- DLS (Duckworth-Lewis method): A formula used in one day matches affected by bad weather. If the team batting second will not be able to use all their allocated overs due to poor weather, this formula recalculates a new winning total and a new number of overs by which that new target must be reached.
- Dot Ball: A ball bowled on which a run is not scored.
- Duck: A batsman who is out with scoring. If they are dismissed on their first ball, then it is known as a Golden Duck.
- Extra: A run or runs awarded which are not credited to the batsman. These could be wides, byes, leg-byes or no-balls.
- Full toss: A ball which reaches the batsman without bouncing.
- Half-volley: A shorter pitched ball which normally bounces at a nice height for the batsman and can be easy to score runs off.
- Hat-trick: A bowler taking three wickets off successive balls.
- Hit wicket: When a batsman hits their own wicket with the bat or part of their body and dislodges the bails.
- Leg Bye: When the batsmen make a run as normal, but the ball has bounced off the batsman’s body, normally off the pads protecting their legs.
- Maiden over: An over in which no runs are scored off the bat, and no wides or no-balls have been bowled. (called a Wicket Maiden if the bowler also takes a wicket)
- Nightwatchman: In test cricket, a lower order batsman who comes in to bat towards the end of the day to protect the better batsman from risking their wicket for a short period of play.
- No-ball: An illegitimate delivery, normally when the bowler oversteps the bowling crease or bowls a ball above waist height (though there are also other reasons). The batting team gets a run and an extra ball, and the batsman cannot be given out from a no-ball (apart from being run out)
- Non-striker: The batsman standing at the bowlers end who is not facing the current delivery.
- ODI (One Day International): A match comprising 50 overs for each side.
- Over: The balls bowled by one bowler in succession, normally six balls unless wides, no-balls are bowled in which case extra balls are added to that over.
- Overthrows: When the batsmen can make additional runs after a poor return throw from a fielder has gone past the wickets.
- Retire: A batsman who picks up an injury and is unable to continue, but is not dismissed, will be deemed Retired Hurt. If able or required, they can continue later in the innings, resuming from their last score.
- Run rate: The average number of runs scored per over by the batting team. Often used as a guide to assess the winning chances of the team batting second.
- Third umpire: An off-field umpire who can adjudicate on close decisions (the cricket equivalent of VAR!)
- Toss: Tossing of a coin by the captains, with the winner electing if they wish to bat or bowl first.
- T20: A match comprising 20 overs for each side.
- Umpire: Two umpires stand on the pitch to adjudicate fair play and on appeals for dismissal.
- Wicket-keeper: Plays for the fielding side and stands directly behind the wickets, who wears both gloves and pads.
- Wide: A ball which is deemed too wide for the batsman to hit. It counts as a run to the batting side and an extra ball must be bowled in that over.
- Yorker: A ball bowled which is aimed to bounce at the batsman’s feet, making it very difficult to score a run-off.
The game of cricket is one of the sports with a massive viewership and followers in the world, second only to football. Between 30th May and 14th July 2019, during which time the ICC Cricket World Cup was hosted in England and Wales, it was observed that an estimated audience of 1.6 billion tuned in to watch, with about 13.7 billion hours consumed globally, demonstrating the power of live cricket as an entertainment. This showed a 72% increase from the 2015 World Cup.
In 2020, the biggest cricket club league, the Indian Premier League (IPL) viewership reached an all-time high with a 31.57 million audience according to Star India, the official broadcasters of the IPL. Star India further released that there was a 24% growth in female viewership.
Test Match Eligible Countries
The first test match was played between Australia and England in 1877. 148 years later, there are 12 nations currently allowed by the ICC (International Cricket Council) to play test matches: (listed in order of test status being awarded, oldest first)
- South Africa
- West Indies
- New Zealand
- Sri Lanka
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