What is Cricket?
The sport of cricket is the second most popular sport worldwide with over 2.5 billion fans. The sport has been around for more than 300 years. Two teams of eleven players face off to try and beat the other. The sport involves a bat and a ball. A bowler throws the ball and the batter tries to hit the ball to score runs. Cricket is a very traditional game, with a lot of long standing traditions. However, the sport has adapted to modern times to the point where there are now three styles of cricket. The three kinds are Five-Day test matches, One-Day International cricket and Twenty20 cricket. Because of this, cricket has stayed relevant and has earned its billions of fans.
Cricket has been around for hundreds of years. There is some debate about when it started. Some historians have talked about cricket being around in the Middle Ages as a farmer's game. The first mention of cricket was in 1611. About a hundred years later, cricket teams started to form. The teams would be named after the county in Britain, and those counties would compete against each other for hometown pride.
The first rules of cricket were written in 1744 but were edited in 1774 to include more strict rules. Then, as the British colonized countries across the world, they would forcefully introduce cricket to the local populations. The first ever international cricket match was actually Canada versus the USA in 1844. Soon, cricket became popular all across the world, but especially in British Commonwealth countries like India and Australia.
Cricket is played on an oval field called a "ground." Inside that oval is the outfield, made of grass, where a majority of the players stand, fielding balls that are hit all around. Inside that is the infield. Unlike in a sport like baseball there are no lines to seperate the infield or outfield it's just about the distance from the pitch. The pitch is a rectangular patch of dirt that is just over 15 yards long. This is where the wickets are and where the bowler and batsman stand.
Around the outside of the outfield is a boundary. In stadiums this is usually a wall but in games played at parks, a line of cones does the job. Inside the boundary there is no area not in play. Batsmen can hit the ball directly behind them, in front of them or to either side.
In the field cricket is a sport with very little equipment. Field players wear no gloves and no protective equipment. Batters, on the other hand, have lots of equipment to protect them from the balls that fly over 80 miles per hour.
- Batting Gloves
- Batting Pads (leg guards)
- Batting Helmet
- Thigh Guard
- Arm Guard
Cricket is a very unique game. In the most traditional form of cricket, test cricket, two innings are played. A team's inning is only over when all 10 of their batters are bowled out. Then the other team has a chance to bat. Test cricket usually takes about five days. In more modern forms of cricket there is a limit placed on the game.
In One Day International Cricket, for example, the match can only last a day. Instead of two innings, the match is only one inning and there is an over limit. An over is made up of a set of six bowls. One day cricket has a limit of fifty overs per team. That means that once the 300th ball has been bowled, no matter how many batters have batted, the teams switch sides.
In Twenty20 cricket, the match is even shorter. Each team has only twenty overs to bat. This makes for a more face paced game as players try to hit the ball for six more and try to score more quickly.
Position Roles and Responsibilities
There really are only two positions on a cricket field that are different from the rest.
Bowler: The bowler is the person that throws the ball and tries to hit the wickets to get the bats person out. The bowler is 100% the most important player on the field.
Wicket Keeper: The wicket keeper is like a baseball catcher. They wear more protective equipment including a small glove and their job is to defend the wicket where the bowler is throwing and catch bad bowls that the batsman doesn't hit.
The rest of the field players stand around the outfield of the pitch and try to catch the ball hit to them and prevent it from going outside of a boundary. Depending on where they stand though the players have position names that can be quite funny. There are many different positions, as seen in the list below:
- First Slip
- Second slip
- Third Slip
- Fly Slip
- Long Stop
- Third man
- Deep Gully
- Silly Point
- Deep Point
- Cover Sweeper
- Cover Point
- Extra Cover
- Deep Extra Cover
- Silly Mid Off
- Mid Off
- Long Off
- Straight Hit
- Silly Mid On
- Mid On
- Long On
- Forward Short Leg
- Short Mid Wicket
- Mid Wicket
- Deep Mid Wicket
- Short Square Leg
- Square Leg
- Deep Square Leg
- Leg Gully
- Long Leg
- Leg Slip
- Short Fine Leg
- Deep Fine Leg
These position names all have some meaning though.
- "Leg" and "On" mean the player stands on the side of the batsman in the direction they are facing
- "Off" means behind the batsman, not on the side where their leg is
- "Silly" and "Short" both mean close
- "Mid" means halfway between the boundary and the batsperson
- "Long" and "Deep" mean almost on the boundary
- "Backward" is behind the batsman
- "Forward" is in front of the batsman
- "Fine" means close to an imaginary line in the middle of the pitch
- "Wide" means far away from the imaginary midfield line.
Rules and Regulations
Cricket has very few rules for the fielders. Really you just have to catch the ball in the air to make an out and that's about it. For batsmen and bowlers the rules get a lot more complicated.
For batsmen, there are nine ways get out:
Bowled Out: If the bowler throws the ball and it hits the wickets, the batsman is out.
Caught Out: If the batsman bats the ball and it is caught in the air by a fielder then the bowler is out.
Leg Before Wicket (LBW): When the ball hits the batsman's leg and the leg is in front of the wickets. If this happens the player is bowled out.
Hit Wicket: If the batsman knocks the wicket down with their bat or their body when the bowler has bowled they are also out.
Stumped: If the wicket keeper catches the ball and hits the wickets with it while the batsman is still in front of the line they are also out.
Run out: If the batsmen are running and the fielders throw the ball and hit the wickets before a runner crosses the line safely that runner is out.
Handled the ball: If the batsman handles the ball with their hand not on the bat then they are out.
Timed Out: After a batsman is out, if the next batsman is not ready within three minutes they are out as well.
Obstructing the Field: If the batsman gets in the way of a fielder trying to make a play, that runner is out.
No Ball: A no ball means that a bowl doesn't count. It is not included in the counting of overs. If a no ball is thrown the batting team gets a run. A no ball is called if the ball bounces twice before it gets to the batsman, if the bowler crosses the line before releasing the ball, or if fielders are standing in an illegal position.
Dangerous ball: A dangerous ball is a type of no ball where the bowler has thrown the ball at the batsman, not in front of the wickets. This counts as a no ball.
Wide ball: A wide ball is a ball that bounces out of the batter's reach and they cannot hit it. If that happens it does not count towards the overs and no damage is done. If the ball bounces over the batsman's head then it is a no ball and a run is added.
Bye: A bye is a ball that hits nothing. The batsman might swing in miss or they might not swing at all. If the ball also doesn't hit the wickets then it's treated as if the batter hit the ball. You can run and score on a bye and get run out of a bye too.
Leg Bye: A leg bye happens if the batsman tries to hit the ball and misses but the ball hits their leg. When this happens the ball is treated like a hit, runners can score runs fielders have to field the ball. If the batters leg is in front of the wickets it's an LBW and the batsman is out.
Referees and Officials
In cricket the officials on the field are called umpires. For most cricket matches there are two umpires. One stands behind the wickets facing the batsperson and the other stands at square leg (on line with the batsman to the side). The umpire behind the bowler calls bowl outs, no balls, wide balls and LBW. The other umpire watches for run out and stumpings. In bigger matches there is a third umpire who doesn't stand on the field. That umpire is in a booth with TV replay as well as birds-eye technology. If the field umpires decide they are not sure about a call they will defer to the video umpire who will relay the correct call with a microphone and earpiece. This is mostly used for LBW where it's really hard to tell if the ball was going to hit the wickets or not. This is where technology, like what tennis players use for replays, is used.
Lingo and Terminology
Cricket is a sport with lots of terminology. Some of it is official and used by everyone and some of it is more slang.
- Striker: The batsman that is facing the bowler
- Non-striker: The batsman that isn't facing the bowler
- Spin bowling: When the bowler throws the ball slower and adds spin to it to make it harder to hit
- Fast bowling: When the bowler bowls fast and straight
- Six: When the batsman hits the ball past the boundary in the air it's worth six points and is called "a six"
- Four: If the ball reaches the boundary it's worth four points and called "a four"
- Extra Runs: Runs that the batsman didn't earn like no balls are called extra runs
- Century: A rare feat when a batsman hits 100 runs in an innings
- Googly: A spin bowl that curves towards the batsman leg
- Doosra: A spin bowl that curves away from the batsman's leg
- Jaffa: A really good bowl
- Perhapser: A risky swing
- Lolly: An easy catch for a fielder
- Howzat: When you ask the umpire if a batsman is out or not you say "howzat?" or even just "zat?"
- Duck Egg: To score zero runs
- Break One's Duck: To score the first run of an innings
- Dorothy Dix: Australian rhyming slang for six
- Sticky Wicket: When the pitch is wet and unpredictable
- Nervous Nineties: The nerves a batsman gets after batting over ninety runs, knowing that they are close to a century (100 runs)
- The Ashes: Based on old traditions, a way to refer to England vs. Australia
Skills and Techniques
There are three basic skills for a cricket player to have, fielding, batting and bowling. When you are young it's good to practice all three but at the professional level it is very rare for someone to be good at all three. Most good bowlers focus on bowling and are not good batters and vice versa. All three skills have different techniques.
Fielding is by far the most simple of the three skills. All you have to do is stand in your position and try to get the ball where it is. The captain is the player who arranges players on the field so you don't even have to position yourself. The technique to catching is to absorb the ball into your hands and body because you are catching with your bare hands and it is harder if your hands are far from your body.
Batting is all about hand-eye coordination and speed. The batsman's first job is to defend the wickets. Then you can think about hitting the ball hard to score runs. You have to react, depending on the pitch if you just want to stick the bat out and tap the ball away from the wickets or if you want to reach back and swing hard. Unlike in baseball the cricket swing is from low to high to make sure that the ball doesn't bounce underneath the bat and hit the wickets.
Bowling is probably the hardest skill. You have to keep your arm straight when you bowl while also making sure to stay behind the bowling line and trying to bowl the ball past the batsman. Practicing fast bowls is the place to start, just throwing the ball straight at the wickets. Then you can practice adding spin to the ball with your wrist and changing your grip on the ball to spin bowl and confuse the batsman.
In cricket, coaches are less important than they are in lots of other sports. A lot of the responsibility or organizing the players goes to the team captain, a player, and not a coach. The main job that coaches have is organizing the lineup of batsmen. Making sure to have a good lineup that gives the best batsmen a chance to bat as much as possible is important. Coaches may not have the name recognition in cricket as they do in other sports but they are still important and often represent their team in front of the media.
|Micky Arthur||Pakistan, Australia, South Africa|
|Mike Esson||New Zealand, Otago|
Cricket strategy starts at the coin toss. Especially in international matches, where each team only bats once, deciding to bat first or second is important. Team captains will walk around the pitch and inspect it. From that they will decide if they want to bat first or second depending on the conditions. The team that wins the coin toss is allowed to decide.
If the pitch is dry and hard, a team with fast bowlers will want to bowl first to take advantage of the fast pitch. If the pitch is wet and slower a team with spin bowlers might want to take advantage of the extra spin they may get from an uneven pitch and may choose to bat first. Other cricket strategies change from batsman to batsman and between every bowl. If a batsman is a power hitter the fielders may back up. If the batter is prone to hit the ball to a specific side then the fielders will place themselves there.
The first drill you can do to get better at cricket is to just have a catch. Throwing and catching are the fundamentals of bowling and of fielding. Being able to consistently catch the ball even if it's flying at you hard is important. Batting is more complex but there are drills you can do to get better at that too. One drill is to bounce a ball and hit it against the wall. When it bounces back try to hit it again and keep going as much as you can. This helps with hand speed and helps with bat control to keep the ball in the same place. As you get more advanced you can use bowling machines to fire the ball at you and practice batting in a more game-like scenario. For cricket you also want to have good stamina and cardiovascular strength because you can be batting for hours at a time.
Players and Athletes
Since cricket has been around for such a long time there are tons of famous cricketers. Now that there are professional cricket leagues, especially in India you can be famous while playing for a club. The truly famous and historical players gained popularity by playing in international matches though. Here are some of the best and most famous players of all time.
|Sir Donald Bradman||Australia|
|Sir Garfield Sobers||West Indies|
|Sir Viv Richards||West Indies|
|Sir Alistair Cook||England|
In the past cricket was not organized into leagues. The phrase "test match" comes from when Egnland would invite other countries to "test" their skills against them. Today both international and local cricket are much more organized. There are leagues and organizations for both of those levels.
|Indian Premier League (IPL)||India||Twenty20 (pro)|
|Big Bash League||Australia||Twenty20 (pro)|
|Pakistan Super League||Pakistan||Twenty20 (pro)|
|Caribbean Cricket League||Caribbean||Twenty20 (pro)|
|International Cricket Council||International||One Day International (pro)|
Cricket, like many sports, has brands that are specific to the sport and traditional and has brands that are more for athletic wear and have a cricket section.
In many countries cricket is extremely popular with children because it is simple and relatively cheap. Even in the US there are quite a few youth cricket organizations.
Tournaments are ways that cricket teams play each other quickly, The most famous cricket tournament in the world is the cricket world cup which is made up of international teams. There are tournaments at every level.
Books About Cricket
In the US they may not be as popular but cricket books are widely read across the world.
|Days in the Sun||Neville Cardus|
|Australia 55||Alan Ross|
|Beyond a Boundary||CLR James|
|The Art of Captaincy||Mike Brearley|
|Concerning Cricket||John Arlott|
|The Cricket War||Gideon Haigh|
Here are some websites that can be helpful in learning about the sport and getting news:
How do you play cricket?
Cricket is played between two teams of eleven. You are either the batting team, where you try to hit the ball and score runs by running from one side of the pitch to the other, or you're a fielder trying to stop the team from scoring. Cricket is a lot about hand high coordination and speed. However, games can last a long time so you need patience and stamina too.
Is cricket an English sport?
While cricket was originally created in England it has grown to become a global game with over 2.5 billion fans worldwide. England is still one of the team teams in the world but other countries like India, Pakistan, West Indies and Australia have also become very good.
What is cricket the game?
Cricket the game is a sport played between two teams of eleven. It is an immensely popular game and is watched by billions of fans.