Before I mislead you, allow me to say I know very little about this sport. But I’m hooked, thanks to my husband. One night I was reluctantly watching his cricket game–er, cricket match–on TV, silently thinking What a snooze-fest. The next night, I peeked at the TV screen occasionally as I checked my e-mail and social media. By the third night, I was watching the match and asking questions.
After dinner cricket highlights are now the norm at our house. According to my husband, highlights are all one needs to see. I asked why. He said, “There’s not enough time.” Did he mean he was too tired to watch the match? No. He meant the match lasts a really long time. A test match is a world cup competition, and it can last between three and five days. Teams play for 6 hours or more each day. Fortunately, there are shorter cricket matches played between international teams. These are called One Day Internationals (ODIs) and the even-shorter T20 matches.
Let me introduce some cricket terminology. The pitcher is called a bowler. The bowler delivers (pitches) six balls to the batter. The delivery of six balls by a bowler is called an over. The field is circular. The boundary consists of the entire circumference of the field. Batters score runs by hitting the ball into the boundary. If the ball surpasses the boundary, the batter scores six runs. If the ball bounces or rolls into the boundary, the batter scores four runs. If the ball doesn’t reach the boundary, the batters can run back and forth between wickets to score runs.
In baseball, we play on a diamond. Cricket is played on a pitch which is in the center of the field. There are two batters on the pitch at all times. There are two wickets at opposing ends of the pitch. As in baseball, cricket has a base.
Baseball has two opposing teams with nine players, a bat, ball, four bases, and a world series. Cricket has two opposing teams with 11 players, a bat, a ball, two opposing wickets, and a world cup. In baseball, they play ’til the game is finished. In cricket, they play until lunch break and tea break.
A wicket consists of three stumps and two bails–short, pieces of wood that sit atop the stumps. If you’re batting, your job is to guard your wicket by hitting the ball. If your bails fall off the wicket, you’re out.
“How would the bails fall off the wicket?”
Glad you asked.
The bowler runs toward the batter and hurls the ball at him. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. The bowler is supposed to be hurling the ball at the batter’s wicket. But still.
It’s an overhand pitch. The bowler’s job is to knock the bails off of the stumps–which the batter stands in front of.
If the ball makes contact with the batter’s leg instead of the bat, he’s out. It’s known as an LBW (Leg Before Wicket), and it happens frequently. That’s why the batters wear leg pads.
This is important: If the batter hits the ball, he then runs with his bat toward the opposing wicket. He touches his bat into the base of the opposing wicket, then runs back to where he started. Batter #2, at the opposite wicket, does the same. The batters pass each other as they run to opposite wickets. Their job is to hit as many balls and score as many runs as possible. If batsman #1 only gets a single, batsman #2 is up to bat. As mentioned above, he can get four runs if he hits the ball into the boundary. He will get six runs if he knocks the ball beyond the boundary (we’d call it a home run).
Either batter will be out if an opposing team member stops the ball before it reaches the boundary, throws it toward the wicket, and knocks the bails off the stumps. Or if a fielder catches the ball in mid-air. Hey! That’s just like baseball.
After every player of the team bats, the teams switch, and now it’s the opposing team’s time to bat. Their goal is to get more runs than the first team did. They’re chasing down the first team’s points!
Finally, I enjoy the commentator remarks as much as the game. Here’s what you might hear from a commentator if a player catches a ball or knocks the bails off the stumps:
“What a ripper!”
Different from what we’re used to hearing, right?
I haven’t done the game justice, but there are too many rules to explain in one post. Here’s a video from a match that was played last August. Remember, these are highlights! The entire match would have lasted much longer. Enjoy!