Cricket is one of the oldest team sports in the world. It began as an unorganized game around the 1200s with the first match of significance happening in 1697 in the English county of Sussex. Modern cricket's popularity is mainly due to British colonialism, which spread the game to nations such as India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa among other countries.
There are three main ways that cricket is played: test matches, one-day internationals (ODIs), and Twenty20. Test matches are matches played over four or five days depending on the rules teams are playing by. ODIs consist of 50 overs played over a single day. 20/20 cricket consists of each team having 20 overs to score as many runs as they can.
Test cricket is the highest level of the sport and played most prominently at the international level. The first test match played between countries was between Australia and England in 1877. Australia is the most successful test cricketing nation with a 47% winning percentage across their history.
The other two methods of play were introduced later. ODIs in 1971 and Twenty20 in 2003. Both were introduced as ways to attract new fans to the sport who didn't want to watch the game over multiple days.
For any type of cricket, the field is oval shaped. The field is split into three main parts: the pitch, the infield and the outfield.
The pitch is a rectangular section of the ground that is 22 yards in length and 10 ft in width. Rolled clay is used in the professional game to allow for natural changes to the pitch due to things like weather throughout a match. There are three lines that make up a simple box at either end of the pitch. They are:
The bowling creases are at either end of the pitch and are on the same plane as the stumps. The popping creases are four feet in front of the bowling creases and are marked so that a bowler knows where they can't cross during a delivery. It also signifies the area where a batsperson must have part of their bat or body down to avoid being run out or stumped.
The infield and outfield vary more in size depending on the ground and the level of play. The infield and the boundary, which signifies the end of the outfield, are marked by rope and contribute to different rules based on the level.
There are 11 players on each team during a cricket match. When a team is fielding, all 11 players for a team will be on the field. Fielding players can play multiple positions. Only two batspeople are on the field at any one time for the batting team.
There is no official clock for any match of cricket. Matches are instead determined in length by the amount of deliveries, overs and innings. A delivery is counted every time a bowler bowls the ball legally to a batsperson. An over consists of six deliveries.
In ODI and Twenty20 cricket, the match lasts a set amount of overs delivered by each team. This is called an inning. In an ODI, each team gets the opportunity to bowl 50 overs each. In 20/20, as the name would suggest, each team gets the opportunity to bowl 20 overs each.
In test matches, each team has two innings. These can last for multiple days in some cases if a team is successful in batting for extended periods of time. Because of this, it is a rule that no less than 90 overs should be bowled in a single day of a test match. If less than 90 overs are bowled, the umpire can allow an extra 30 minutes at the end of the day to allow the overs to be completed. The only time this is not strictly enforced is if the match is delayed significantly for weather-related reasons.
During ODIs and Twenty20 matches, there are stoppages in play for a change of inning. In test matches, there are two mandated stoppages throughout each day. This splits the match into roughly three two-hour sessions. Test matches also stop for changes of an inning.
ODIs and Twenty20 matches will almost never end in ties due to the variance in scoring in cricket. A match using either of these rules will end one of three ways:
Test matches end in similar ways but because there are two innings that each team has to play, it is more likely the match will end in a tie. To win a test match, a team must score more runs than their opponent and take all 20 wickets. Even if only one of those conditions is met after all days of play, the match ends in a tie. On the other hand, if both of those conditions are met before the last day of a test, the match ends early with a winner.
There are a number of pieces of equipment required to play cricket. They are:
The ball is made from cork strips and tightly wound string. It has to weigh between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces for men's cricket and weighs a little less for the women's game. Balls made in different countries usually have slightly different characteristics in terms of bounce and swing.
Cricket bats must be wooden. No aluminum bats are allowed at the professional level. The bat is made out of willow. The maximum length of a bat is 38 inches. The maximum width of the face of the bat is allowed to be is 4.25 inches.
Cricket jumpers and trousers at the test level are usually white. When playing ODIs or Twenty20 cricket, these items of clothing are usually in the team's colors. Both pieces of clothing are designed to make players comfortable while standing in the field for long periods of time.
The jockstrap is used to protect a player's genital area. This is particularly of concern when a player is batting or fielding very close to the batter.
Cricket caps are traditional items of clothing worn for different reasons. The most practical reason is to shield the sun from fielder's eyes when they are trying to catch the ball. In test cricket, they can have more significance. For example, the baggy green is worn by Australian test cricketers and is considered a badge of honor for their players.
A helmet is worn by all batspeople as well as some fielders close to the pitch. This is a protective piece of equipment to protect the head from an impact with the ball. Fast bowlers can bowl at 90-plus mph so this is necessary to avoid serious injury or even death.
Leg pads are a protective piece of equipment for batspeople. They protect the knee and the shins from impact with the ball.
Gloves are worn by batspeople and wicketkeepers. Gloves worn by batspeople are protective equipment with extra padding around the fingers to avoid broken bones. Wicketkeepers also were gloves that have webbing between the fingers and thumb to make it easier to catch balls behind the batspeople.
The purpose of cricket is to score more runs than the opposing team and attempt to get the other team all out by taking all 10 or 20 wickets, depending on which version of the game is being played.
In ODIs and Twenty20 cricket, it is not necessary to take all 10 wickets available. The objective is to simply have more runs than the opposition when the match ends.
In test cricket, to win the game a team must have more runs than the opponent and have taken all 20 wickets available. Otherwise, the match can end in a tie.
In cricket, there is no set amount of runs needed to win. In ODIs and Twenty20, there is no set amount of wickets needed either.
For a team to score runs, they must be batting. They can score runs in two main ways. They are:
If a batsperson hits the ball into the field and it touches the ground before it is caught by a fielder, and doesn't reach the boundary, then the batsperson and their partner can run between the creases. For a run to be scored, both batspeople must reach the opposite creases from where they started. They can do this multiple times during a single hit for as many runs as they can manage before the ball is thrown back to a fielder close by.
If the fielding team manages to stump the ball before a batsperson reaches the crease associated with the stumps, the batsperson is out.
Boundaries are scored when a batsperson manages to hit the ball all the way to the boundary. Four runs are scored if the ball touches the ground before reaching the boundary. Six runs are scored if the ball crosses the boundary without touching the ground.
To take wickets, a team must be the fielding team. Wickets are taken in a variety of ways. They are:
Bowled means that the bowler managed to hit the stumps with their delivery. The ball can or cannot hit the batsperson's bat on the way to hitting the stumps. If this happens, the batsperson facing the delivery is out.
If a ball is caught after leaving the batsperson's bat without hitting the ground, the batsperson who hit the ball is out.
Stumped is in reference to the batsperson stepping out of their crease to hit the ball and then a fielder, usually the wicketkeeper, manages to catch the ball and dislodge the stumps before the batsperson is able to return to their crease.
LBW stands for leg before wicket. This is an out decided by the umpire based on the perceived path of the ball. If the batsperson facing the delivery puts their leg in front of the wicket when the ball is likely to hit the wicket, this out is given. The ball cannot touch the bat before the leg.
A run out is similar to stumping in that the stumps have to be dislodged for an out to happen. When the batspeople are in the act of running between the creases, if the stumps are dislodged before a batsperson touches a part of their body or their bat in the crease, the batsperson is out.
There are other less common ways that a batsperson can get out. They are: