A quick introduction to Cricket (the sport not the insect…seriously!)

So, just what is that other weird bat and ball sport that you have seen on TV?

It’s cricket! 

Do you know want to know what cricket is? You are on the right page to learn a little more about this great and ancient sport.

Cricket is a very old sport. There are references to cricket being played in the 16th Century in England. However, even the modern form of cricket (that we would recognise) dates back to the mid-19th Century.  

1857 – first known photo of a cricket match.

If you are a baseball fan, then there might be some similarities, and I tend to think that a person who loves one form of the game would, with time, grow to love the other form (as I have done). For example, there are batsmen (hitters), bowlers (pitchers), creases (a bit like bases), sixes (like home runs), there are innings (always plural in cricket), batsmen can get out, and best of all, there are heaps of stats on players to measure their performance. Of course, the two games are very different, but I think these basic similarities help ground someone, as they learn the game.

The game is played between 11 players on each team, one team ‘bats’ and the other team ‘fields’. The cricket field is usually oval-shaped and in the middle is a hardened patch of ground called a pitch. This is where the action happens. A pitch is about 20 metres (22 yards) long, and either end has wooden wickets (also called stumps) and crease lines. The batsmen protect the wickets from being hit by the bowler (otherwise, they are out).

The batting team has two players on the field at a time. One will face the bowler and the other at the non-striker’s end. They primarily score runs by running between the wickets. Once ten players are out, the first team swaps and the second team tries to chase the score the first team scored. 

6 Ball Overs

One of the fielding team is the bowler (like a pitcher) who bowls the ball down the pitch to the batsmen who attempts to hit the ball and score runs. When a bowler bowls six balls, it is called an over, and a new bowler then bowls another six balls from the other end. Bowlers swap ends every six balls (Each Over) and can bowl multiple overs in a game.

Getting a Batsman out.

Batsmen can get out in various ways (There are other ways, but these are the main ones).

  • If a batsman hit’s the ball in the air and a fielder catches it, they are caught out.
  • If a bowler bowls the ball past the batsman and hits the wicket, they are bowled out. 
  • If, when running between wickets to score a run, a fielder hits the wickets with the ball before they make the crease, they are run out. 
  • If the batsman prevents the ball from hitting their wicket with their leg, it is called Out ‘Leg Before Wicket’ (LBW). 

Scoring in Cricket

When a batsman hits the ball and feels they can safely run to the other end, they score a run when they reach the other crease. If the batsman hits the ball and it rolls to the boundary fence, it is four runs, and if the batsman hits the ball over the fence on the full, it is six runs.

Cricket is a much higher-scoring game than Baseball. Teams will regularly score between 200-500 runs per innings (depending on the format), and some individuals often score 100 or more runs in an innings.

The three formats of cricket today

There are three main formats (forms) of the game played at an international level; Test match Cricket, Limited overs Cricket and Twenty20 cricket. Let’s quickly look at each one of these.

Test Cricket

Test Cricket is the oldest and most traditional form of the game. This is the long form of the game, as a single Test match will last up to 5 days. You will see players dressed in white, and a red cricket ball is used. Each team bats through their innings twice (all 11 players). The team with the most combined runs wins. The first Test was in 1877 between England and Australia and played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia won that game by 45 runs.

Games will often end in a draw because time runs out (5 days) before both teams finish batting. It doesn’t matter how well or poorly either team has played; if there is no result after five days, the game is a draw. This was not always the case, once, games went until a result happened, and a game could last ten days or more… Famously, one game ended after 11 days only because the Australian team’s ship was leaving, and they had to catch it!

Limited Over Cricket

Limited Over cricket is played over a whole day and is often referred to as one-day cricket. Teams bat once through their innings and get 50 overs each. Fifty overs equal 300 (or so) balls bowled at the batsmen. The first limited-over game was played in 1971 between England and Australia when a Test match was ‘rained out. Australia won this by five wickets. It never looked back from there and quickly became very popular. 

Twenty20 Cricket

Twenty20 (T20) Cricket is the newest form of the game (last 20 years or so) and is also the fastest. As the name suggests, each team gets 20 overs each to bat. This game lasts about 3 hours, so it is much more palatable for the modern sports watcher. The first T20 game (men’s cricket) was played in 2005, New Zealand vs Australia. Australia won it by 44 runs (woo hoo, I see a trend here)

Cricket Statistics

Cricket, like Baseball, is rich with player and game statistics. Cricket stats have been kept for hundreds of years. So, for example, W. G. Grace played 870 first-class games in England (including 22 test matches) in the 19th Century, and we have all the relevant stats to go with it.

Statistics make games like cricket and Baseball even more exciting than just the game itself. The stats add richness to the game and players and can affect the outcome. For example, I don’t know how often a player has gotten out in the nervous 90s because the pressure of scoring 100 runs got too much for them, resulting in a silly rash shot.

A couple of good cricket Statistic websites are:

I am writing an article on Statistics and sports, so watch out for that.

Final Thoughts

There is much more I could say, but I will leave it for another post. You are now a little wiser (hopefully) about cricket! Let me leave you with this challenge:

If you are new to the game, start by watching a T20 match. They are shorter and more compact. If you enjoy BaseballBaseball, you will grow to love cricket, too, just as I have the other way around.

I would love to hear your thoughts on cricket and any sport, for that matter. Comment below.

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