Cricket is a sport that dates back to the 16th century. Originating in England and popularized throughout South Asia and the Caribbean through English Colonialism. By the end of the 18th Century, cricket was England’s national sport. In the mid 19th century international matches (test cricket) were introduced and are still the most glorified matches of cricket to this day. Some well-known national teams are England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, India, Pakistan and South Africa.
A cricket field, unlike many other sports, is an oval with a diameter somewhere between 450 and 500 feet (like baseball the dimensions are not exactly defined). The oval defines the boundary. Cricket is played with hardballs, flat wooden bats, and wooden wickets. All balls rolling over the boundary marker are 4 runs; balls that are hit in the air that land beyond the boundary are 6 runs. The batsmen play on a pitch, 66 feet long, and run from end to end to make runs. At the end of both pitches are four “wickets” which are just sticks in the ground that the batsman must protect. The objective is to score more runs than the other team.
There are 11 fielders on the defensive team including one bowler. Cricket is divided into “overs.” There are six balls bowled in each “over.” Most international games are 50 overs but there is a hugely popular 20 world tournament in which games are 20 overs long.
On the offensive side are two batsmen. These batsmen are 66 feet away from one another on the same pitch. A bowler delivers the ball and a batsman hits it. In order to make “runs”, the batsmen have to run to the other side of the pitch and touch the “crease” (about 4 feet from the wickets, “safe-zone”) with their bat. The maximum number of runs per play is 6, which can be achieved by hitting the ball over the boundary. At the end of each over, the batsmen switch sides and the bowler is substituted.
How It’s Played
Each team has one turn to bat and one turn to field. Who does what first is determined by a coin toss. For example, let’s say it’s a 20 over game between Team A and Team B. Team A wins the coin toss and elects to field first. Team B bats the full 20 overs or until all but one of their players is out (a team must have a batsman on each side of the “pitch” at all times). Let’s say Team B scores 100 runs. It is now Team A’s turn to bat and Team B’s turn to field. Team B must score 101 runs to win the match. Once Team B makes 101 runs, they win the match and can stop playing. If Team B scores 99 runs or fewer, they lose; likewise if they score 100 it is recorded as a draw. It is advantageous to field first because when you are batting second, you have a goal set for victory.
Each team may have up to 5 bowlers. Only one bowler is allowed to bowl in one over. Bowlers have to switch after each over. There are various styles of bowling. Some bowl for speed, others for spin. A “runoff” is a must for speed bowlers, who can sometimes reach a 90 mph delivery. In traditional cricket, the delivery is overhand.
One important thing about cricket is that a batsman does not have to run for every ball he hits. Cricket is a game of patience and placement.
How to Record an “Out”
There are three basic ways to get a batsman “out.”
- Bowled – The bowler bowls the ball past the batsman and it hits down one of his “wickets.”
- Caught – The batsman hits a delivery in the air, inside the boundary, and a fielder catches it. *If the ball is caught outside of the boundary on a fly, it is recorded as 6 runs and not out.
- Run-Out – The batsman hits a delivery from the bowler. The batsman runs but does not make it into his “crease” (about 4 feet from the wickets, “safe-zone”) before the ball is fielded and the fielder knocks down the wickets with ball in hand.