Cricket is not hard to understand. There are two teams. They mess around with a bat and a ball. At the end of the game, one wins and the other loses.
Okay, maybe it isn’t that simple. Partly because there are actually two main types of cricket: Test cricket and Limited Overs.
Test cricket, the older version of the sport, can go on for as long as FIVE DAYS. No one has that kind of time anymore. Luckily, someone came up with Limited Overs, in which games never last longer than a day.
Cricket is played on an oval-shaped field called a “ground”. In the middle of this oval of green grass is a strip of harder ground, called a pitch.
At each end of the pitch, there are three stakes driven into the ground. This is a “wicket”, or “stump” if you prefer. Balancing delicately between the stakes of the wicket are light pieces of wood called “bails”.
Each team has 11 players. One team starts by batting, while the other team bowls.
The bowling team chooses a bowler and a wicket keeper, and the rest of the team head onto the grass to try to catch the ball. The bowler stands at one end of the pitch and throws, or bowls, the ball to the batsman at the other end. The batsman must, of course, hit the ball, but the bowler must try to throw the ball so fast that it passes the batsman and knocks the bails off the wicket.
If the bowler manages this, then the batsman is “out” and the batting team have to send in a new one. In the results this will read as (bowled).
If the batsman hits the ball but the fielding team catch it before it hits the ground, the batsman is again out. In the results this will read as (caught).
If the batsman hits the ball and no one catches it, they have the chance to earn points, known as runs. They do this by running to the opposite wicket. When they run, the batsman at the opposite end must also run. They need to cross each other, and get behind a line known as a crease before the fielding team return the ball to the pitch and hit the wicket.
The batsmen can also score by hitting the ball over the boundary. The boundary is a barrier – usually a white rope – that runs all the way around the ground, close to the edge. The ground inside the rope in the “infield”. The margin between the rope and the edge of the oval is the “outfield”. If the ball goes over the boundary, the batsman automatically scores four points, without running.
If the batsman hits the ball right out of the field, they get six runs. But this is a risky shot as the ball is more likely to get caught.
The final thing you need to know about is an “over”. An over is six legal throws by the bowler. Confusingly, this doesn’t mean the ball is only bowled six times. That’s because after each over, the fielding team appoints a new bowler to deliver balls from the opposite end of the field.
In a test match, the overs are unlimited. In the “limited overs”, the overs are – you guessed it – limited, usually to 50.
In limited overs matches, each team only gets to bat once, so only has one chance of racking up runs.
Naturally, each team wants to earn more runs than the other. But they only have 11 chances to bat, and can only bat for 50 overs. If the batsmen take big risks and get “out”, the team’s turn will be over, and the fielding team will take its turn to bat.