I figured I would take a stab at explaining this to my fellow Americans how one of the world’s most famous sports – Cricket – is interpreted. As it is the 2020 IPL season, my household will have cricket on every morning for the next two months — that means there are approx. 60 games streamed from start to finish.
It wasn’t until 3 years ago my boyfriend introduced me to cricket. He is in LOVE with the sport and even plays in a local league. Being the loving, and supporting girlfriend I am, I of course tried to understand how this sport is played… and trust me… It took time. Eventually, a year (or two) later, I finally understood what I was watching, and was actually actively participating in the “OMG” sixes, and contemplating whether the player was out or not.
Don’t worry — you’ll get there!
Please don’t hate me when I say — cricket is baseball on steroids.
Let’s go over the basics:
- You have 2 teams
- You have 1 ball
- You have a bowler = someone who pitches the ball
- You have a batsman = someone who bats the ball
- You have a catcher standing behind the batsman at all times to try to catch the ball
- You have fielders who man the field and try to catch the ball
- You have two physical wickets that are formed by 3 stumps supported by bails on either side of the pitch (playing area)
- A large field that encompasses the pitch
- Number of players
You have 11 players on each side (aka team). Each side will get a specific number of balls to bowl (throw) while the other team bats. Then after that number is met, they switch. Who decides to Bat/Bowl first is up to a coin toss right before the game starts.
- Length of the game
You might have heard that Cricket games go on for days. Yeah… they weren’t lying. Test matches can go up to 5 days! Two innings a day for 5 days. An “inning” is a part of a game where a predetermined team is batting and the other is bowling. In the end, they calculate who scored the most points. The “shorter” version is a One day match, which takes about the entire day to play 🙂 The World Cup game length is typically 50 overs per side per game. An “over” is a set of 6 balls and determines the length of the overall game – a 50 over per side game typically takes close to 8 hours. And lastly, one of the more popular versions of the sport now is the T-20. Each side plays 20 overs — takes about 4 hours to complete.
- Breakdown of the game
# of days (most likely 1 day)
2 innings per day
A specified number of overs per inning (typically 50 or 20 depending on the type of match)
6 balls per over
So let’s break this down into an example: Team A vs. Team B
Let’s say the game will be 1 day, have 2 innings — each inning will have 50 overs. That means each side will throw 300 balls per inning.
So far so good?
You get points by scoring “Runs.” When a batsman hits the ball they can take a run. There are a couple of combinations here…
- The batsman can and should hit the ball in a way that makes it difficult for the fielders to bring it back to the pitch. This allows you and your fellow batsman to run from one wicket post to the other — scoring runs. But you better run wisely! If you leave your post unattended, and the ball comes back to the pitch) — you could “get” a wicket (an out!)
- Some overrides to scoring runs are:
- The batsman hits the ball and it touches the boundary of the field (whether intercepted by a fielder or not, if it touches the boundary, it counts)– that would be equivalent to four runs. You don’t have to run, and if you do run those runs are not counted.
- You can hit the ball with such power that it does not touch and ground and goes beyond the boundary (it can touch fielders and fall outside the boundary) — that would be a six. ← the most entertaining and powerful – it can decide the winning team
In baseball, if you touch the batter with the ball before they reach the base they would be considered out. Similarly, if you caught the ball in mid-air right?
In cricket, if the fielder hits the “stumps”(part of the wicket post) with the ball when the batsman is considered out of the safe batsman area (outside the line), it’s considered an out. Similarly, if a fielder/catcher catches the ball before it hits the ground (with control and doesn’t let it touch the ground until the catch is complete) then it’s considered an out. Each team gets 10 wickets per inning. When a batsman is out, they get replaced by the next person in the batting line. If you run out of wickets, your innings end.
Other helpful things scenarios to know — when players are out or get free runs!
- The bat is an extension of the arm of the player. So if the ball hits the arm of a player and it bounces off, and someone who is fielding catches it… it’s considered an out
- If the player’s leg gets hit by the ball when it is right in front of the stump, it would be considered an LBW — Leg Before Wicket, it’s an out
- If the ball straight up hits the stumps after just being bowled, it’s an out
- If the ball is bowled too wide or high to be hit, it is considered a “wide ball”, and the batting team gets 1 free ball hit and 1 run
- If the bowler is over the pitching line when bowling the ball, it is considered a “no-ball”, and the batting team gets 1 free ball hit and 1 run
When batting an inning, all the runs get added up. The team batting first (Team A) will set the target goal of xx runs for Team B to achieve or in cricket terms – to “chase”. If Team B achieves that exact number of runs that Team A made – the game ties. Depending on the tournament, there are different ways to resolve a tie game. If Team B achieves more than the number of runs achieved by Team A, they win! Otherwise, Team A wins!
This was a quick overview of the game so you can now start watching it with your friends and family! Or perhaps go see a game live… Whatever it is — enjoy the IPL & Test Matches to come. You will learn additional terminology and rules as you keep watching.