As promised yesterday I’m going to try and describe the rules of cricket. I’ll try to provide some analogies but it’s probably not going to be perfect. There’s lots of text because I’m trying to simplify everything. Rishi helped proof read and suggested a few things so all praises to me and complaints to him!
And if you don't care (like Ragnarok), ignore the text below.
Cricket is a game played by two teams each with 11 players. As Madden says the team with the most points (called runs in cricket) at the end of the game wins.
Simple enough. I’m going to use yesterday’s India vs. Pakistan game as an example. At the beginning of the game there’s a toss. The winner of the toss decides if they want to bat (i.e. try and hit the ball) first or if they want to bowl first (i.e. pitch). After that the team that bats first goes out and tries to get as many runs as possible. In my example India went first and scored 260 runs. The other team has to try and prevent the first team from scoring too many runs. After that now the second team gets a chance to bat and they have to score more than the first team did (so Pakistan had to score 261). In this case Pakistan ended up scoring 231 runs. 260 > 231 thus India won.
To simplify: batting team = offense, fielding/bowling team = defense. Each team gets to play offense and defense at least once.
I need to explain the field a little bit first. It looks like this:
Ignore all the labels for now.
As you can see it’s a circular ground with boundaries on the edges and a weird rectangular area smack in the middle. This is called the pitch and it’s where almost all of the action occurs. The pitch up close:
So the batting team only ever has two players on the field at a time whereas the fielding team has all eleven players. There are two ends to a pitch. One is called the striker’s end and that’s where the striker stands. The striker is the batsman (i.e. batter) who hits the ball. In the diagram it’s the side labeled as "batsman receiving the bowling". The other end is called the non-striker’s end and it’s where the other batsman stands. He’s basically waiting there. The bowler (i.e. pitcher) basically runs up to the non-striker and then proceeds to bowl (or pitch/throw) the ball to the striker.
In the diagram you can see a special person called the wicketkeeper. He’s part of the fielding (catching team/defense). He’s basically analogous to the catcher in baseball (I think).
Also you’ll notice two lines that cross the pitch horizontally at the striker and non-striker’s end. This is called the crease.
How do you score?
Ok so the game flow goes like this: bowler (i.e. pitcher) bowls (i.e. pitches/throws the ball) from the non-striker’s end to the batsman at the striker’s end. That batsman can either hit it or leave it alone. You can’t however try to catch the ball, kick it, swallow it or whatever else but if you accidentally do that when trying to hit it with your bat, that’s ok.
Once you hit the ball you can do two things: nothing or try to score a run. To score a run the batsman on the striker’s end has to run all the way down to the non-striker’s end and the non-striker has to go to the other place. I.e. switch places. Each of the batsman has to have a body part (or his bat – yes you always carry your bat) touch the ground past the line (crease). If they’ve done that then they’ve scored one run (kind of like going to first base). They can then run back and go back to their original position and then they’ve scored two runs (second base). Do it again and its three runs. And so on.
The batsman can also try and smash the ball. If he manages to smash it past the boundaries of the field without letting the ball touch the ground its six runs and the batsmen do not switch places (they don’t even have to run). Analogous to a home run. If however the ball does hit the ground on its way to the boundaries it’s only four runs.
Unlike baseball once you hit the ball and score your runs you don’t go back to your dug out. You stay on until the other team manages to get you out after which you have to leave and cannot return to bat again.
How do you get out?
Firstly this is called a wicket:
There are two wickets. One behind the striker (and in front of the wicketkeeper) and one behind the non-striker. This is crucial to getting people out. There are a myriad of ways a batsman can get out:
Bowled: The bowler bowls the ball, the batsman misses hitting it and the ball hits the wicket and the top bails fall off or move. The batsman is then out bowled.
Caught: Similar to baseball. Batsman hits the ball into the air and one of the person from the fielding team catches it (without the ball having bounced first). The batsman is caught out.
LBW: It’s the hardest to explain. Batsman misses the ball and it ends up hitting him in his leg. If the umpire (referee – there are two of them on the field and one in the booth who does booth reviews similar to football) thinks that if the leg wasn’t there the ball would’ve hit the wicket then the batsman is out. LBW = Leg Before Wicket. There’s actually a lot of nuances to this but hell if I know what they are.
Hitwicket: Batsman swings his bat like a moron and manages to hit his own wicket with his bat. Whoops. He’s out.
Handling the ball: Batsman touches the ball with his hand on purpose (in other words if you miss hitting it and the ball hits you on the hand, it’s ok) then he’s out. I’ve never actually seen this happen.
Stumped: The batsman tries to hit the ball but misses and the wicketkeeper manages to catch it and use it to knock over the wicket. If the batsman has a body part or his behind the crease (as explained above) then he’s ok. Otherwise he’s out
Run Out: So the batsman hits the ball and then him and the non-striker runs but a fielder manages to get the ball and then throws it at a wicket and hits it. If the guy who is running towards the wicket that was hit doesn’t have his bat or body part on the ground past the crease than he is out. This is the only way a non-striker gets out.
If a batsman gets out then we say that a wicket has fallen. The team on offense has 10 wickets that he can lose before the innings is over and the teams have to switch. In other words if 10 different batsman have gotten out then the batting team’s innings is done. So it’s like baseball where if three batters strike out then then you switch. Once a team has lost all 10 wickets they cannot score runs anymore. So when Pakistan lost their 10 wickets yesterday they had only scored 231 runs at that point and couldn’t score more.
How do you bowl?
It’s complicated to explain so watch a video of two different types of bowlers: seam bowler, spin bowler.
Basically a seam bowler bowls (i.e. pitches) the ball fast and he tries to make the ball literally swing in midair in a way such that the batsman finds it hard to hit it. A spin bowler is usually slower and his strategy is to make the ball spin in such a way that the batsman really has no clue where the ball is going to end up and thus completely screws up. There are different types of spinners (offspinner, etc) and it basically is based on how you turn your wrist which determines how the ball will bounce. For example there is something called a googly which is basically a ball that looks like it’s moving away from a right handed batsman (so he’ll have to reach out to hit it) but all of a sudden it turns and comes in closer to you.
There are three rules: You cannot bowl in such a way that the ball bounces higher than the batsman’s head more than twice every 6 balls – this is called a bouncer. When the ball reaches the batsman if it’s so far to the sides that the batsman cannot reach it then you have to re-do and the batting team gets a free run – this is called a wide. When you ball if your foot crosses the crease (on the non-striker’s end) completely then the batting team gets a free run and you have to redo (and on this redo the batsman cannot get out in any way other than a run out) – this is called a no ball.
To answer a Twist question: a bowler doesn't always bowl it in a place where the batsman cannot reach it because it would be a wide and you'd award free runs to the opposition.
Now comes some terminology. Every time a bowler bowls the ball it’s counted as one ball (except for no-balls and wides which are not counted). Six balls make up an over. A bowler can only bowl 6 balls (an over) consecutively. After the bowler has finished an over another bowler has to bowl. And then he switches. At the end of every over the batsmen switch position (striker to non-striker and vice versa).
There are three different formats to cricket.
The most popular is called ODI (One Day International) or 50 Over Match. This is because each team only has 50 overs (or 300 legal balls) to score. Of course if the team batting loses 10 wickets before the 50 overs are up then their innings is over and they cannot continue. But if they still have wickets remaining at the end of the 50 overs that too doesn’t matter because your inning is over now dammit. The World Cup is ODI. The other change is that a bowler can only bowl a maximum of 10 overs before he has to stop. The game usually takes about 8 hours.
The most infamous and the original is called a Test match. Instead of one innings each team gets two innings (and you alternate except in some circumstances). Your scores from two innings are totaled. So if Team A scores 200 in the first innings, Team B gets 130 in the 1st innings, then Team A gets 100 in the 2nd and Team B gets 171 in the 2nd then Team A has a total of 300 and Team B has 301 so Team B wins. The most crucial is that there is no over limit. So the only way for an innings to end is for the batting team to lose all 10 wickets or for the batting team to decide, enough is enough we’re done with this innings (called a declaration – only done if they’re thumping the other team so a mercy rule of sorts). There is a hard limit of 5 days. If a result is not reached in 5 days then the game is a draw. The other change is that the rules regarding wides are much more relaxed in favor of the bowler and that you can bowl unlimited bouncers.
The newest format is called Twenty20 (or T20). It’s basically like ODI except each team only gets 20 overs (120 balls) and a bowler can only bowl 4 overs each. Game takes about 4 hours.
Cricket has a lot of stats and they tell you a lot about a game.
111 is known as a Nelson (after some famous British dude) and it’s considered unlucky by some.
If a batsman gets 50 runs by himself that means he has a half-century. If he gets 100 it’s a century. 200 is a double century. And so on. The highest score ever in an ODI is 200 (by the Indian Sachin Tendulkar). Highest in Test is 401 (by the West Indian Brian Lara).
If a bowler manages to get five batsman out (i.e. five wickets) it’s called a Five-For.
Runs Per Over (or RPO) is the average number of runs the batting team has scored in an over. So if you score 250 runs in 50 overs that is 5.0 RPO.
Strike Rate is the average number of runs you score per ball. So if you have 250 in 50 overs (300 balls) that’s a SR of 83.33%. For an individual anything about 80% is considered great, 90%+ is awesome and 100%+ is insane.
World Cup 2011
If you haven’t heard already there is a Cricket World Cup going on right now. The games are in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This is the 10th one (first was in 1975 and it repeats every four years). Australia hold the record with four championship (including three in a row from 1999-2007), West Indies is second with two (1975 and 1979). India (1983), Pakistan (1992) and Sri Lanka (1996) have one each. The final game will be played this Saturday in Bombay, India between two of the host countries: India and Sri Lanka. India are favorites to win but who the hell knows. This is the first time a non-Asian team has failed to appear in the finals. This is also the first time since 1992 that Australia hasn’t been in the finals (India beat Australia in the quarter finals to knock them out).
To top it all off here’s a nice little video of the best batsman ever (Sachin Tendulkar) killing the Aussies in 1998. He single handedly won the game for India.
If there's still more confusing stuff just ask and some Indian will reply.