Introduction to Cricket

02/08/2008 01:07

Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport contested by two teams, usually of eleven players each.[1] A cricket match is played on a grass field, roughly oval in shape, in the centre of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards (20.12 m) long, called a cricket pitch. A wicket, usually made of wood, is placed at each end of the pitch.

The bowler, a player from the fielding team, bowls a hard, fist-sized cricket ball from the vicinity of one wicket towards the other. The ball usually bounces once before reaching the batsman, a player from the opposing team. In defence of the wicket, the batsman plays the ball with a wooden cricket bat. Meanwhile, the other members of the bowler's team stand in various positions around the field as fielders, players who retrieve the ball in an effort to stop the batsman scoring runs, and if possible to get him or her out. The batsman — if he or she does not get out — may run between the wickets, exchanging ends with a second batsman (the "non-striker"), who has been waiting near the bowler's wicket. Each completed exchange of ends scores one run. Runs are also scored if the batsman hits the ball to the boundary of the playing area. The match is won by the team that scores more runs.

Cricket has been an established team sport for hundreds of years and more than 100 countries are affiliated to the International Cricket Council, cricket's international governing body. The sport's modern form originated in England, and is most popular in the present and former members of the Commonwealth. In many countries including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, which are collectively known in cricketing parlance as the West Indies, cricket is the most popular sport. In Australia, while other sports are more popular in particular areas, cricket has been described as the "national sport" and has had a role in forming the national identity.[2] It is also a major sport in England, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe . Many countries also have well-established amateur club competitions, including the Netherlands, Kenya, Nepal and Argentina.

The aim of the batting team is to score as many runs as possible. A run is scored when both batsmen successfully move to their respective opposite ends of the pitch. (The batsmen will usually only attempt to score runs after the striker has hit the ball, but this is not required by the rules—the batsmen can attempt runs at any time after the ball has been bowled.) Runs are also scored if the batsman hits the ball to the boundary of the playing area (this scores six runs if the ball crosses the boundary without having touched the ground, or four runs otherwise), or if the bowler commits some technical infringement like bowling the ball out of reach of the batsman.[3]

The aim of the bowler's team is to get each batsman out (this is called a "taking a wicket", or a "dismissal").[4] Dismissals are achieved in a variety of ways. The most direct way is for the bowler to bowl the ball so that the batsman misses it and it hits the stumps, dislodging a bail. While the batsmen are attempting a run, the fielders may dismiss either batsman by using the ball to knock the bails off the set of stumps to which the batsman is closest before he has grounded himself or his bat in the crease. Other ways for the fielding side to dismiss a batsman include catching the ball off the bat before it touches the ground, or having the batsman adjudged "leg before wicket" (abbreviated "L.B.W." or "lbw") if the ball strikes the batsman's body and would have gone on to hit the wicket.[5] Once the batsmen are not attempting to score any more runs, the ball is "dead", and is bowled again (each attempt at bowling the ball is referred to as a "ball" or a "delivery").[6]

The game is divided into overs of six (legal) balls. At the end of an over another bowler from the fielding side bowls from the opposite end of the pitch. The two umpires also change positions between overs (the umpire previously at square-leg becomes the bowler's umpire at what is now the bowling end, and vice versa). The fielders also usually change positions between overs.

Once out, a batsman is replaced by the next batsman in the team's line-up. (The batting side can reorder their line-up at any time, but no batsman may bat twice in one innings.) The innings (singular) of the batting team ends when the tenth batsman is given out, leaving one batsman not out but without a partner. When this happens, the team is said to be "all out". (In limited overs cricket the innings ends either when the batting team is all out or a predetermined number of overs has been bowled.) At the end of an innings, the two teams exchange roles, and the side that has been fielding bats.

A team's score is reported in terms of the number of runs scored and the number of batsmen that have been dismissed. For example, if five batsmen are out and the team has scored 224 runs, they are said to have scored 224 for the loss of 5 wickets (commonly shortened to "224 for five" and written 224/5 or, in Australia, "five for 224" and 5/224).

The team that has scored more runs at the end of the completed match wins. Different varieties of the game have different definitions of "completion"; for instance there may be restrictions on the number of overs, the number of innings, and the number of balls in each innings.