Matches are played on a large expanse of usually short cut grass, oval or circular in shape and commonly refered to as a ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the grounds, but most international standard grounds are considerably larger in area than a soccer pitch or similar sports field.
In the centre of the ground is a length of close-cut, heavily rolled grass or turf, called the wicket or more correctly the pitch. Some club cricket is played on pitches made from synthetic grass or other material. Play centres around this area. At each end of the pitch are placed three sticks adjacent to each other in an upright position, these are the stumps. They are separated by a gap not greater than the diameter of a cricket ball. On top of each set of stumps are placed two smaller sticks called bails, forming what is known as a set of stumps or the wicket (note: there are two definitions of wicket). The regulation distance between the two seperate sets of stumps is 22 yards. A chalk outline drawn on the pitch is called a crease. The crease in front of each set of stumps is the popping crease. Another crease is drawn so that the stumps pass through it, called the bowling crease. Finally, a return crease is drawn on each side of the stumps along the sides of the pitch.
Batsmen play in pairs, each within the area defined by the creases at the ends of the pitch. The fielding team occupies the rest of the grounds.
The game play is controlled by two on-field umpires who at times, refer dificult decisions to a third umpire seated off the ground. The third umpire has the aid of television replays and other technology that allows him to assist in making decisions generally centred around appeals for dismissal of batsmen by the fielding side. A match referee is also alotted to each International match to ensure the Laws of Cricket are properly administered by all match participants.
Fielding positions are too numerous to describe. Visit the link below to see a diagram of Fielding Positions, Pitch Layout and The Wicket. Specifications and dimesions are available with these diagrams.
The match is divided into seperate innings, how many is dependant upon the type of match played and whether it is a Test Match (normally played over 5 days) or One Day International (played during a single day). In each innings (the word is both the singular and plural) one team bats (this team is in and it is their innings) and the other fields and bowls. The object for the batting side is to score the highest number of runs (points) before the fielding side have dismissed them. The object for the fielding side is to dismiss all the batsmen for as low a score as possible. To get the batting team all out, the fielding team need only dismiss ten batsmen (who must operate as a pair), the remaining batsman is not out. The eleventh batsmen is unable to continue batting, as the Laws of Cricket state their must be two batsmen on the pitch at all times.
Each innings is subdivided into overs which consist of six balls bowled to one end of the wicket. At the end of an over, the umpire will call “over” and the fielding team must switch bowlers and bowl to the other end of the wicket and hence to the other member of the batting pair. A bowler is not allowed to bowl more than one over in succession.
A match may consist of one innings per team (typically in one-day or limited-overs cricket) where the team that scores the most runs in their innings wins. In two innings cricket (as in county or international Test-match cricket), play can continue for up to five days. The winning team must not only score the most runs, but also must have dismissed the opposing team in both innings, otherwise the game may be drawn. Games are often canceled as a result of adverse weather (usually rain) and when a game is abandoned, no result is achieved.
Dismissal of the batsman, also known as taking a wicket, the fall of a wicket or getting the batsman out, can occur in a number of ways. However, an umpire cannot give any batsman out unless an appeal has been made by the bowling/fielding side. Such appeals are generally made by the fielding side “asking the question” by yelling “howzat” or “how-is-he” or making other physical signs indicating an appeal. The umpire will generally indicate the acceptance of an appeal thereby dismissing the batsmen, by raising a single finger into the air, the dismissal of an appeal for a wicket is generally made by the umpire with a shake of the head indicating “no.” The fielding side cannot question the umpires decision or call for futher adjudication, however, bowlers often quietly ask the umpire why the wicket was not given, in order to improve their bowling performance.
Bowled: If a bowler's delivery hits the stumps and dislodges a bail or both bails, the "striker" (the batsman facing the bowler) is out. The ball can either have struck the stumps directly, or have been deflected off the bat or body of the batsman. However, the batsman is not out bowled, if the ball is touched by a fielder before hitting the stumps.
Caught: If the striker strikes the ball with the bat and the ball is caught by the bowler or a fielder before it hits the ground, then the striker is out.
Stumped: If the striker steps in front of the batting crease to play the ball leaving no part of his anatomy or any part of the bat behind and the wicket-keeper is able to remove the bails from the wicket with the ball, the striker is out. The batsmen must be holding the bat with part of it in the crease to be declared not out.
Run Out: If a fielder uses the ball to remove the bails from either set of stumps whilst the batsmen are running between the wickets (or otherwise away from the crease during the course of play), then the batsman (striker or non-striker) is out. The batsman nearest the set from which the bails were removed, but not actually in safe territory, is given out. If the batsman has any part of his body or his bat (if he's holding it) on the ground behind the line of the crease, then he cannot be run out (except if both batsmen are on the same side of a crease); frequently it is a close call whether or not a batsman gained his ground in this way before the bails were removed. (The difference between stumped and run out is that the wicket-keeper may stump a batsman who goes too far forward to play the ball, while any fielder, including the wicket-keeper, may run out a batsman who goes too far for any other purpose, including for taking a run.)
Leg Before Wicket or LBW: If the ball strikes any part of the batsman's anatomy (not necessarily the leg), and, in the umpire's judgement, the ball would have hit the batsman's stumps had his anatomy not intervened, then the batsman is given out. There are some subtleties, however, to do with where the ball pitches (bounces ), whether the batsman intentionally hit the ball with his body or attempted to play a legitimate stroke with the bat and exactly where it hits the batsman in relation to the line of the stumps. In any case, if it seems that the ball would not have struck the stumps, the batsman is not out.
The aforementioned are the main ways a batsman can be dismissed, however, a batsman may also be dismissed in the following rarer circumstances:
Hit Wicket: If a batsman dislodges the bails with his body, bat or any part of his protective equipment, he is out.
Hit the Ball Twice: If a batsman hits the ball twice, he is out. But, the second hit must be an actual deliberate hit; the batsman may stop the ball a second time by placing his bat; this action is often performed to stop the ball from hitting the stumps. No batsman has ever been given out "hit the ball twice" in Test cricket.
Handled the Ball: If a batsman touches the ball with his hand for any purpose other than to, with the approval of the fielders, return the ball to the bowler, he is out. Only seven batsman have been out handled the ball in the history of Test cricket (Russell Endean, Andrew Hilditch, Mohsin Khan, Desmond Haynes, Graham Gooch, Stephen Waugh and Michael Vaughan).
Obstructing the Field: If a batsman, by action or words, obstructs a fielder, then he is out. However, a batsman is allowed to obstruct the view of a fielder by standing in front of him. He may also stand in between the fielder and the stumps. The rule intends to prevent batsman from interfering with a fielder by, for instance, pushing him. Only one individual has ever been out obstructing the field in a Test match (England's Len Hutton in 1951, playing against South Africa at The Oval in England).
Timed Out: If a new player takes more than two minutes to enter the field of play after the previous batsman has been dismissed, then the new player is out. In the case of extremely long delays, the umpires may forfeit the match to either team. This method of taking a wicket has never been employed in the history of Test cricket.
Finally, a player may be "retired, not out" (more commonly known as "retired hurt") due to injury or illness, in which case, he still has the option to return after treatment, though he would have to wait for a teammate to be given out. The umpire has discretion over whether to allow a batsman to retire hurt. If a batsman still intends to go off the field without the umpire's consent he may do so, but he is then "retired, out" and cannot return to the field of play (this is extremely rare in Test cricket: only two individuals - Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene - have "retired, out", both in the same match, playing for Sri Lanka against Bangaldesh in September 2001).
The bowler only "gets credit" for dismissals he has directly caused for batsman bowled, leg before wicket, caught, stumped and hit wicket. If the ball is a no ball, the batsman cannot be out in any of these ways. The batsman can, however, be run out, handled the ball, hit the ball twice, obstructing the field or timed out on any ball.
Many sports refer to their score in points or goals, in cricket; the score is refered to as runs and these runs can be scored in a number of ways. The batsman gets credit for runs scored from or off his bat. A batsman who scores 100 runs in an innings is said to have scored a century or a ton, as it is often refered to. Similarly, players can score double centuries, triple centuries, quadruple centuries (to date; achieved only once in Test cricket by Brian Lara of the West Indies in 2004 in a match against England), or quintuple centuries (to date; achieved only once in all first-class cricket and again by Brian Lara). The batsman receives credit for runs scored as follows:
Runs can also be accrued through the failure of the bowler to correctly deliver the ball.
Runs can also accrue for other reasons:
Fielders in potentially dangerous positions close to the batsman regularly use protective headgear in the form of a helmet. For convenience, when a helmet is not being used (for example if the field is set so that all fielders are at a distance from the batsman) it is generally placed on the ground behind the wicket-keeper. If the ball touches this helmet as it is lying on the ground at any time during play, five runs are awarded to the batting side, so long as the batsman did not deliberately cause this to happen.
For various other illegal actions, the umpire has the discretion to award five penalty runs to either team. Time wasting, damaging the playing area, attempting to "steal" a run or deliberately distracting the batsman are among the actions punishable by awarding the penalty. Rarely are runs scored in any of these manners.
An expert batsman is considered to be one of the most highly regarded and valuable positions within a cricket team. Batsmen learn their art through many hours of practicing all the disciplines required to perfect the skills necessary to excel at this area of cricket, including technique, physical stance, foot placement, eye/hand co-ordination, timing and “shot” placement, which refers to hitting the ball to particular areas of the ground. Top batsmen also utilise skills to assist them in concentrating for long periods whilst batting and many are known to apply mental or psychological approaches to ensuring their powers of concentration are not interupted by the influence of fielders or other environmental factors present on a cricket field or in the spectator areas. Most teams consist of at least five specialist batsmen, sometimes six. Batsmen 1-3 are referred to as the top order,4-6 the middle order and those following are the tail or tail-end batsmen.
Good batsmen score their runs through deliberate batting strokes, hits or “snicks” of the ball placed in certain parts of the field where the ball will obviously avoid being stopped or caught by a fieldsman or the wicket-keeper. These strokes are often refered to as shots and you will often hear cricket media commentators use a term such as “nice shot that” (Bill Lawry from Australia) or simila, to describe well placed batting strokes. Strokes such as a drive, cut, sweep, hook and pull shot are all very common amongst those played by well practiced batsmen. To see a diagram of where on a ground particular batting shots are played by batsmen, visit the link below.
See Diagram of Batting Shot Placement
Laws of cricket
The laws of cricket are a set of rules framed by the Marylebone Cricket Club which serve to standardise the format of matches across the world to ensure uniformity and fairness in the game throughout the globe.
The MCC have also released a humourous summary of the rules of cricket:
See Laws of Cricket for more information
The sport of cricket requires gentlemanly conduct from all players. Under the ICC regulations, players may be fined a percentage of the salary, banned for number of matches, or even banned for a number of years or life. The ICC appoints a Match Referee for each Test match and One-day International; the Referee has the power to set penalties for most offences, the exceptions being the more serious ones.
See ICC Cricket Code of Conduct for more information
Forms of cricket
The format "Test cricket" - a form of international cricket - started in 1877 during the 1876/77 English cricket team's tour of Australia. The first Test match began on 15th March, 1877 and had a timeless format with 4 balls per over. It ended on 19th March, 1877 with Australia winning by 45 runs.
Since then, over 1600 Test matches have been played and the number of Test match playing teams has increased to 10 with Bangladesh, the 10th international Test team, making its debut in 2000. Test matches are now played continuously over a period of 5 days with no rest day.
Balls per over in Test cricket
Modern day Test cricket (since 1979/80) has been played all over the world with six balls per over. However, Test cricket started with 4 balls per over and has had varying number of balls per over around the world upto 1979/80.
Balls per over
In South Africa
In New Zealand
First-class cricket is just like Test cricket, but it takes place over three days or more. Tests are technically first-class, but the term is usually used to describe domestic matches. Domestic competitions take place between regional, city, county, or state teams.
Due to the growing demands of commercial television for a shorter and more "dramatic," form of cricket, the experiment of one-day cricket was introduced. In one-day cricket, each team bats for only one innings, and it is limited to a number of overs, usually fifty in international matches. Since spectators did not need to commit five days of their time, due to innovations such as matches at night under floodlights, as well as the colored clothing (opposed to the somber white uniforms of Test cricketers), and finally because of the greater sense of urgency in the new form of the game, one-day cricket has gained many supporters. Meanwhile, many traditionalists have objected that Test cricket involves more strategy and encompasses all the aspects of the game, while one-day cricket, by limiting the number of overs, puts an undue emphasis on the quick scoring of runs. One-day cricket is not classified as first-class.
Twenty 20 Cup
The Twenty20 Cup, a major new addition to the cricket season, was introduced in 2003 in an attempt by the ECB to introduce cricket to a wider audience including women and younger children with a new fast paced twenty over game.
The action-packed competition, which replaced the Benson & Hedges Cup in the domestic calendar, will feature two weeks of group matches between the 18 counties - and an exciting finals day in July at Edgbaston. Each match promises non-stop big-hitting entertainment for 20 overs a side, lasting under three hours and played from 5.30pm-8.15pm - making them an ideal summer evening out for children, families and office parties alike.
There will also be an exciting entertainment package at match venues including music, promotions and quality food and beverage offerings, plus a variety of interactive activities for the kids. All 45 group matches - the 18 First Class Counties are split into three groups of six teams each - will be played over a 12-day period, thus intentionally scheduling the competition around the longest days of the year. Essex and Sussex may stage floodlit Twenty20 Cup matches in the group stages, and the timings for any such matches will be confirmed in due course.
All Counties are guaranteed a minimum of two Twenty20 Cup matches at home. The winners of each of the three groups and the best-performing runner-up will progress to a finals day, at which both semi-finals and the final will be played. The tournament will be covered on TV by Sky and Channel 4, and by BBC Radio - capturing the unique atmosphere of a new fast-paced concept where every ball will count.
List A cricket
List A cricket is to one-day cricket as first-class is to Tests. Most cricketing nations have some form of domestic List A competition. The over limits range from forty to sixty. The categorization of "List A" is not one endorsed by the ICC; the Association of Cricket Historians and Statisticians created it for the purpose of providing a parallel to first-class cricket in their record books.
Club cricket is amateur, but still formal, cricket. The games are almost always Limited Overs, with each innings usually lasting between thirty and forty-five overs. Club cricket is played extensively in cricketing nations, and also by immigrants from cricketing nations. Club cricket often takes place on an artificial turf pitch, though the rest of actual field may be natural grass.
Other forms of cricket
Indoor cricket is a variation of the game designed for indoor play
Kwik cricket is a high-speed version of the game, aimed mainly at encouraging youngsters to take part.
"Beach cricket" is a term applied to all informal cricket, regardless of the actual location. The rules are often made up on the spot, and the subtle and complex laws of cricket, such as those involving leg before wicket, penalty runs, and others, are ignored or modified.
French cricket is a game in which the ball is bowled at the legs of the batsman, with the batsman's legs forming the the wicket.
Countries participating in international cricket
The Test (that is major international match) teams are, in order of receiving such status, Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. One nation, Kenya, has "one-day international status." While Kenya still cannot play Test cricket, it is, like the Test nations, exempt from qualifying tournaments for the World Cup. Kenya has applied to gain Test status. Teams to have played in One Day Tournaments include Canada, UAE, Scotland, Netherlands, Namibia and East Africa Additionally, the various cricket events include teams from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Singapore, and United States, although the game does not have a high profile in most of those countries.
Governance of cricket
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has always been the Framer of the Laws of Cricket. However, the International Cricket Council (ICC) regulates international cricket. Each cricketing nation also has a body that selects international teams for that country as well as governs domestic competition. The bodies in the Test-playing nations are:
The ICC appoints a Match Referee for each International match. The Match Referee has no power during the game; he is more of a disciplinary official. The Match Referee has the power to receive complaints from players, team officials, or umpires, hold hearings, fine players a percentage of the "match fee", or ban players for a limited number of matches. The Match Referee can also recommend a hearing by a higher panel, which can go as far as banning a player for life.
Structure of international cricket
International cricket has historically had no fixed form or structure. It has always been traditional for the countries, without any interference from a body such as the ICC, to organize for themselves the various cricket matches. Recently, however, the ICC has committed the Test playing nations to play each other in a programme of matches over a period of a few years. This was set up to encourage some of the better established countries to play the lesser nations more frequently.
Most Test matches and One-Day series take place in the form of "tours." In a tour, one nation travels to another and plays warm-up matches, first-class matches against domestic teams such as county or state teams, a series of Test matches against the host nation, and either a series of one-day matches against the host nation or a tournament involving the host nation and another touring nation. The "triangular tournament" format is often used when one tour is about to conclude and the other has just begun. In the tournament, the three teams play each other either two or three times. The two teams with the most points (usually two points for a win, one point for a no-result or tie, and no points for a loss) qualify for the one-game final.
The Test series can last from one match (known as a "one-off match") to six matches. Six-match series are extremely rare. Most important series last five matches, while the less important ones last two to four matches. The length of the series is based on the home country's attitude towards the modern form of cricket, one-day internationals; traditional nations such as England and Australia usually organize five-match series, while one-day crazy nations such as India favour three-match series. At most, a perpetual trophy such as The Ashes (for England versus Australia) or the Frank Worrell Trophy (for Australia versus the West Indies) exists, with the trophy being awarded to the last team to win a series.
The One-day series lasts from three to seven matches. Usually, the shorter one-day series are played at the same time as longer Test series. In addition to tours, nations may organize one-day matches at neutral venues. The Sahara Cup was a one-day series played annually between India and Pakistan in Toronto, until the Indian government ordered the suspension of most cricketing ties with Pakistan. Similarly, a semiannual Triangular Tournament was organized at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. The tournament almost always involved the traditional rivals India and Pakistan. However, the tournament has lost its luster due to the fact that the overwhelming number of cricket matches has spoiled the pitch. In contrast to the one-dayers, Tests are never held in neutral venues. One notable recent exception occurred when Pakistan played some Test matches in Sharjah; many other nations had decided to boycott Pakistani grounds due to violence, including bombings, that had occurred during a tour by the New Zealand cricket team.
In addition to the one-day series and tournaments organized by the nations themselves, the ICC organizes two tournaments. The World Cup is held every four years; it involves all the Test-playing nations, Kenya, and also a number of qualifying nations. The Champion's Trophy, also known as the ICC Knockout Cup, is held every two years in between World Cups. In the Champion's Trophy, a single loss eliminates a team from the tournament.
The ICC instituted the Test Championship table to permit fans to compare all the Test teams. The Table is a running one, that is, whoever is on top at a certain time will formally hold the Test trophy. (The Table is not like a league standings table, where the top team at the end of a certain period of time becomes Champion.)
The calculations for the Table are performed as follows:
The ODI (One Day International) championship was created for reasons similar to the Test one, and it has a similar structure. The championship does not replace the World Cup; the latter still carries much more significance to most cricket fans.
The calculations for the Table are performed as follows:
Structure of domestic cricket
In most nations, domestic cricket is more organized than international cricket. There are usually separate limited overs and first-class trophies. At some times, there may be more than one limited overs trophy. The teams are usually city, county, state, or other regional teams. However, at some times, "department teams," which are teams composed of employees of a certain institution, may play.
Cricket is a statistics-laden sport. The statistics of runs, no-balls, wide balls, byes, and leg byes are covered in the above section on the Structure of the Match and Scoring.
Cricket is a team sport that first originated in England and is popular mainly in the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations (Commonwealth). However, some anecdotal evidence does exist that shows a form of cricket may have first been played in France under the name of crique. The Dutch are also said to have played a sport similar to cricket called stool ball. The exact origins of the sport remain unclear as a result, but the English can be first credited with playing cricket in an organised form. In countries of South Asia such as India and Pakistan, it is the major mass participation and spectator sport, while in certain other countries such as Australia, it is the major summer sport. However, Australia is now beginning to play the sport during the winter months in relevant geographic areas of the country where the winter season is less obvious, namely in the northern cities of Darwin and Cairns.
The game is played between two competing teams of eleven players on each side, with a 12th man consigned to the role of a players attendant and emergency fieldsman. The teams are usually comprised of players with a mixture of skills, some who specialise in batting, some in bowling, occasionally some who excel in both capacities and one highly specialist player who acts as the wicket-keeper. When not engaged in their speciality, players act as a fieldsman when their side is engaged in bowling. The majority of the batting side usually rest whilst waiting to bat, many though will actually practice their batting technique. There is also a captain of each team, who plays a very major role in the team and its administration.
Cricket is a sport that is highly dependant on the performance of the team unit as a whole, however, individual performances by both batsmen and bowlers are generally the deciding factors in setting up a winning position in a cricket match. A large score made by a batsmen or indeed several batsmen is of very little use if in fact, their team bowlers cannot dismiss the opposition for a lower score. Subsequently, a cricket team will generally put themselves into a dominant winning position if all elements of the teams performance are of the highest possible standard and superior to that of the opposition.
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