Cricket – An Explanation for the Unenlightened

Cricket is without doubt one of the finest sports out there. But time and again us fans hear complaints about it being too complicated, it takes too long, it’s boring, and so on.

So I’ve raised this thread so that we can have a general chat about why those people are so, so wrong, and how they should be punished (I favour writing “I must not hate cricket” with Delores Umbridge’s special quill).

It is not complicated. The basic idea is terribly simple. Somebody throws a ball at some sticks, and somebody tries to stop the ball hitting the sticks by hitting the ball with a bat. Points are awarded for how well you hit the ball, but if the ball hits the sticks, or catches the ball, you have to sit out for a while.

You couldn’t get simpler.

I think the idea of it being complex partly comes from the Leg Before Wicket (LBW) rule. So let’s deal with that rule first, because it forms quite a lot of a match.

In fact the word “wicket” has a number of usages in cricket, but don’t worry. They don’t affect anyone’s ability to enjoy the sport.

I’ll tell you what – let’s define the word “wicket…

1. The collective name for three stumps with bails across the top. Bails are just little buts of wood. Nothing complicated there.
2. The name for the brown, dead-looking strip of grass on the cricket pitch. The pitch is the whole big green area and the wicket is the 22-yard long flat brown bit. Don’t make any mistake though, this wicket is very carefully prepared, is very important to the match, and is probably the source of more controversy in the sport than anything else except for selecting the England cricket team.
3. A bit more complex this one. The word is also used as the concept for the batsman’s stand when batting. If he is got out, he is said to have “lost his wicket”.
4. When keeping track of the score the word is used to say how many batsmen have been got out. For example if a side has had five of its batsmen out they are said to have lost five wickets.

I will try to remember to put the definition of the number after the word “wicket” so that you can follow which definition I am using.

Simply put, you have to use your bat to stop the ball hitting the sticks (known hereafter by their proper name – stumps), not any part of your body. The most common part of the body that is used to stop the ball hitting the stumps are the batsmen’s legs, simply because they are already in the general area of the stumps! Hence Leg Before Wicket. It could be the arm if the batsman were to throw their arm down in front of the stumps, but they don’t do that. They do put their leg out though to stop the ball hitting the stumps. That is illegal and if the umpire (referee) decides the batsman has put their leg in front of the wicket(1) they will give the player out.

Actually let me back up a little. I’m sure some of you are thinking why isn’t it Leg Before Stumps? Well because it isn’t, okay? The three stumps with the bails across the top are collectively referred to as a wicket.


So basically a bowler sends the ball down to the batsman with the intent of hitting the wicket (1), or to hit the batsman’s leg (to get them out LBW (the W being definition 1 again), or getting the batsman to hit the ball with the bat so that a fielder catches the ball.

Surely that’s not too difficult? Three most common ways of getting rid of the batsman – hitting the wicket(1) with the ball (clean bowled), hitting the leg if it is blocking the wicket(LBW - 1) and catching the ball before it touches the ground if the batsman has hit it.

I will admit there are a couple of other ways a batsman can be got out but these are the most common.

The batsman scores points (runs) by running between the stumps at each end of the wicket (2). Each time you run between the wickets(2) you get a run. In this way you mostly get one or two runs. You can get three runs but ones and twos are the most common. If the ball runs all the way to the boundary of the pitch you get four and if it goes over the boundary without touching the ground you get six runs. Again, I don’t think there is anything difficult there. The better the batsman hits the ball, the more runs they can make. If they hit it so that it runs away to a fielder a few yards away the batsman might have time to get one run, if they hit it a bit further or the fielder fumbles picking up the ball they might get two runs. If they hit it so well it goes to the very edge of the pitch they are given four runs, and if they hit it over the edge without touching the ground they get six runs.

So getting the batsman out – easy to understand. How the batsman gets runs (points!) – easy to understand.

I think even if you only have that level of knowledge you can enjoy the game.

The argument about it taking a long time. Well, T20 (also known as 20/20) is a form of the game that is much quicker. The whole match will take around three hours. Then there are “limited overs” matches that take one day to play. So you have a choice of three hours, a whole day, or up to five days (in practice they last three to four days). How many sports give you three different time choices depending on how busy you are?

But there is some terminology I need to explain. See, I slipped the word “overs” in there. Nothing complicated though, I assure you. The bowler bowls six balls to the batsman. Each six bowl spell is called an over. The T20 format is where each side bats for 20 overs (if you are doing the maths that means each side has 120 balls bowled at them).

Limited overs cricket is where each side faces 50 overs. That’s why it takes a day for each side to face 50 overs.

Test matches – the ones that can last up to five days – have 90 overs per day. Yes there are complications that arise due to slow play and weather interruptions, but again don’t worry about them. You pick them up as you go along. Keep checking back here as I’m sure someone will explain the minutiae at some point (try somewhere around page twenty!).

If the bowler doesn’t bowl correctly for some reason, then they have to bowl an extra ball. An over is six correctly delivered balls, not any six that leave the bowlers hands! Sometimes the bowler will send a wrongly bowled ball down which misses the batsman and runs to the boundary, in which case the batting team get extra four runs for that and the bowler has to bowl that ball again! Cruel isn’t it. The bowlers teammates will tut at the bowler when that happens, but don’t feel sorry for the bowler. If a fielder drops a catch the bowlers will tut the fielder.

Next up is how we keep score.
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Comments

  • So now we have covered runs, batsmen getting out, and overs we can discuss scoring (Southern hemisphere cricket fans can froth and fume all they want at the next paragraph but I am using the English way!).

    I think this is also where some people claim the game is complicated. This is where you get 50/9 and 20/4 and so on. It’s not difficult. There are two batsmen out on the pitch and they both face bowling. Each time a batsman is out, they return to the clubhouse and a new batsman comes out to take over the batting. There are eleven on a team, and when all the batsmen are out except the last one that ends the batting for that side and the next side has their turn at batting.

    Now the numbering is merely a shorthand. 40/3 (read as “forty for three”) means that the batting side have made 40 runs and they have had 3 batsmen out (by the ball hitting the wicket(1), LBW or the ball being caught). 258/9 means that they have scored 258 runs at that they have lost 9 batsmen, and are this on their last two batsmen. When one of those is out there isn’t anyone left in the clubhouse to come out so their turn at bat ends. If you have counted it properly you will realise that means one person has not suffered the ignominy of being out – they are officially classed in the records as “Not Out”, which is always nice. If one of the opening pair of batsmen goes all the way through be the last man not out, they are said to have “carried their bat”. When we say something like 40/3 you will often hear a commentator say “forty for three wickets”, or “the Australians have collapsed to forty for the loss of eight wickets” – very common that last one.

    The Ausies get it wrong and write 4/50, which still means that the batting team has scored 50 runs and lost 4 wickets(4) but the wrong way round. Never mind. What can you expect from a country that has the poor manners to burn stumps after winning a match?

    The basic idea of course is to get as many runs as possible and to bowl out the opposition before they can score more runs than you did.

    There are two ways we state who has won.

    If, for example England bat first and get 250 runs, then Australia bat and get more than that (say 252 after hitting a four) but have lost 8 wickets to do so, that means they have got more runs with 3 wickets to spare. So we say Australia have won by 3 wickets.

    If England get those 250 runs but this time Australia are "all out" (that is they have lost all their batsmen except the last one) but have only managed to score 220 runs, we say England have won by 30 runs.

    This works for T20 and limited overs matches and most test matches. I say most because there is a complication due to the fact that in test matches both sides bat twice. The first team will bat until they are all out, then the second team will bat until they are all out. Thus both teams have had their first "innings". Then the first team will bat again, adding their runs to the first innings total, then the second team will bat again. These are the second innings.

    Now, let's say Australia bat in their first innings and get 250. Then England bat and make 400 in their first innings. If Australia are all out in their second innings for 100, making the Australian total 350, it means England have won without having to bat a second time. Australia are still 50 runs short after both their spells at batting. Thus we say England have won by "an innings and 50 runs".

    Hopefully it all makes sense as a basic introduction.

    I will leave it there so we can field – did you see what I did there? – any questions.

    Of course there are plenty of complicated areas of the game. But all sports have those, even football has the offside rule! But it is those complexities that add enjoyment. No it isn’t a fast-paced, all action sport. It has moments like that, but those are interspersed with moments of tension and chess-like tactics.

    The way to look at it is the way I think many cricket fans watch it; that each ball bowled has the potential to get the batsman out rather than being hit for six! The cricketing authorities seem to think that the excitement comes from watching a batsman hitting a ball for six and the more of those the better, but I disagree. Whilst they have a superficial veneer of action and excitement, they are nothing without the realisation that the bowler could clean bowl the batsman (preferably causing the middle stump to cartwheel across the pitch), or get them out LBW and so on.

    So if you watch it waiting for the bowler to hit the stumps then the tension mounts. It is genuinely is a real battle of wills and wits between the bowler and the batsman. If the batsman hits a boundary for four off a poorly delivered ball then it will annoy the bowler and don’t be surprised if the bowl a bouncer next ball to try to take off the batsman’s head for his cheek!

    It is the tension and tactics that make up for the lack of constant, fast-paced action like football delivers. At its best, a test match especially, has an ebb and flow that provides periods of excitement interspersed with tension and genuine moments of high-theatre (challenging umpires calls for example). It isn't football but it isn't trying to be.

    Of course this is just a basic overview of the game. I'll try to post more about different aspects of the game but hopefully what I have posted should (a) clarify some of the confusing aspects (only some - there are plenty more!) of the sport, and (b) give you enough information to let you know what you are watching and more importantly to enjoy it.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Ah but explaining it takes away from the ZEN of it all.

    You have to grow up with it ... like my Dad taking my brother and me to The Basin Reserve to watch Pakistan vs New Zealand. And a big brown paper bag of sandwiches Mum had made and one glass bottle of Coca Cola from the kiosk for a Special Treat.

    (Not to mention flicking through the programme and staring at the photos of those exotic dusky chaps ... and wondering what the funny feelings in my tummy and between my legs were about ... aged 8 or 9!)
  • Your explanation of the basics took up 1258 words, and just the scoring took 1042. This is not my idea of a simple-to-understand "sport."
    :wink:
  • Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    Your explanation of the basics took up 1258 words, and just the scoring took 1042. This is not my idea of a simple-to-understand "sport."
    :wink:

    Every sport has its complexities. The basic concept of cricket is simple. Hit a ball with a bat to stop it hitting the stumps otherwise you have lost. Hit the ball well though and you get points.

    Of course there are complexities. Explain American Football or tennis in fewer words! But make sure you get the scoring, some of the equipment and a mention of the playing area.

    I am not going to pretend it is the simplest sport - it probably is one of the more complex, but that is what makes it enjoyable. Those rules are designed to make matches full of tension as well as exciting moments.

    You do need to have patience, and to not be frustrated with what looks like periods where nothing happens. Something is always happening, they just might be too subtle for people who don't know what they are looking at.

    Moving a fielder from one place to another might look trivial, but if you understand that it is being done to take advantage of a particular bowlers specialism, and that the batsman is known to be susceptible to that type of bowling, then it gets interesting.

    It's a sport and like any other sport some will be attracted to it and some wont for a variety of reasons, but some of us felt (a few of us discussed it briefly on a thread dedicated to test matches) that maybe some people might try to get into it if they understood more about the rules.

    Besides this thread also gives us somewhere to discuss cricket in more general terms rather than clogging up the test match thread, and I get to diss the Ausies in my examples!

    The next post will be on bowling and bowlers.
  • I remember, many years ago, trying to explain Test cricket to a group of Americans. They were amused by the idea that one stopped for lunch and tea; and flabbergasted at the concept of a game lasting for five days., What really finished them off, however, was when I told them that the players took a day off in the middle (as they did in those days).

    It is a rather strange game, isn't it?
  • So, as promised, let’s look at bowlers and their art.

    They range from the most subtle and cunning spin bowlers, through to the thundering and unrestrained fast bowlers.

    But first, we need to talk about the wicket (definition 2 – the brown and dead-looking strip of grass). If you imagine a bowler running in to bowl to a right-handed batsman, the wicket – and indeed the whole pitch – has two halve. The half to the right of the middle stump (from the bowlers point of view remember) is called the leg side. The half to the left is called the off-side. The leg side is so named because the batsman’s legs are in front of the right hand stump. Their bat is in front of the left-hand stump. Should it be called the bat side then? Yes, probably but it isn’t. It is the off side.

    Fast bowlers tend to aim for the off (or left) stump and a few inches to the left of it. This is called “the corridor of uncertainty”, because the batsman doesn’t know whether to leave it alone and let go by, or to play it. If they leave it the ball might be heading for their off stump but if they play it they might get caught. It is a horrible place to have a ball coming towards you at 90 mph. Especially when bowlers like England’s Jimmy Anderson can make the ball move in the air. He is a specialist type of fast bowler called a swing bowler.

    Incidentally I am not going to get into discussing what fast is. For the basics, I am defining them as “not spin” bowlers.

    Other fast bowlers try to get the ball to hit the wicket(2) with the seam of the ball. This means it can bounce around randomly. Again the ball is coming towards the batsman at 80 – 90 mph and they don’t have a lot of chance to make their decisions. It makes you wonder that they can hit the ball at all.

    But they do. The best batsmen can react so quickly, or simply out-guess the bowler, that they can not only hit the ball, but can use the pace of the ball. They simply guide the ball off the bat to areas of the pitch behind them letting the bowlers own pace take the ball down towards the boundary for four runs.

    Even the best bowlers don’t get it right all the time though and might send a ball down that is off line or a bit slow, or bounces in the wrong place on the pitch and the batsman sniff blood. A lose ball is likely to be hit for four or six. To really annoy a fast bowler though, the batsman will hit the ball straight back over the bowler’s head and down to the boundary. This is guaranteed to get a bit of “sledging” going on where the bowler makes some nasty remark to the batsman – hoping the umpire doesn’t hear. The next ball will almost certainly be a bouncer which is designed not to hit the stumps, but the batsman’s head. These are legal and a good batsman will look to score runs off them rather than duck!

    Incidentally my favourite bowler of all time is Michael Holding. He was one of the great West Indies team of the late 70’s and early 80’s. His nickname was “whispering death” due to his silky smooth, almost slow run up coupled with a fearsomely fast delivery. Look on YouTube for Michael Holding bowling to the England captain, Brian Close. He bowled bounder after bouncer and Brian Close wasn’t wearing a helmet – they didn’t in those days. A very brave man mister Close!

    So they are the fast bowlers, relying on speed and movement of the ball to get the batsman out.

    Now spin bowlers are more cunning.

    They rely on putting spin on the ball to get it to move about after it bounces. There are many combinations, ones that bounce to the left, the right, go straight on, stay low, rear up and so on. These are the bowlers you might see taking a short run up and the ball is much slower 40 – 50 mph.

    Batsmen have some tactics they employ to try to get the better of the spin bowlers. The first is to try to watch the ball as it leaves the bowlers hand, to try to work out what it will do after the bounce. So bowlers try to disguise their deliveries. The second tactic batsmen use is less subtle. They simply take a few strides down the pitch towards the bowler! This means they can hit the ball before it bounces, or as soon as t does bounce so it doesn’t have time to move around too much. Unsophisticated but devastating if the batsman can do it because, as they are moving so slowly, the ball can be hit hard and accurately. More fours and sixes.

    Spin bowlers rely on getting the ball to move around after hitting the wicket(2) and love it when there are crack and boot marks they can land the ball in. It just adds more randomness to the balls movement after bouncing. This means that captains will let their fast bowlers start a match, but give more overs to their spin bowlers as the match goes on and the wicket(2) starts deteriorating. After three or four days of a test match, the wicket(2) has been run on, had the sun on it drying out, had a rock-hard cricket ball hurled onto it, and so on, so it is no surprise that cracks appear. That is when the spinners start their real work.

    Of course spinners are used at other times, mainly when the captain wants to give the fast bowlers a rest! It is tiring bowling over after over at 80-plus mph under the sun for hours on end. The fast bowlers need to have a few overs rest, so the spinners have a go. On day one or day two though the spinners are not going to get any help from the wicket(2), so their main role is to give the fast bowlers a break whilst not letting the batsmen get any runs. They are expected to contain the batsmen.
  • I think we need to talk about the ball now.

    Cricket balls are very special things, and in no other sport that I know of, does damage to the ball get factored into the match.

    At the start of a match the cricket balls are new, shiny objects of loveliness. Handmade Duke balls if you are elegant and sophisticated, Kookaburra balls if you are content with factory-made, lumpen, unlovely things that do nothing except allow batsmen to slog them far and wide. These balls are hard and fast. They bounce high and tend to go straight. They are difficult for batsmen to play, so the first two batsmen in the middle are specialist opening batsmen, whose job is to “take the shine” off the new balls. In short, to start the process of damaging the balls so they become slower and softer for the other batsmen.

    The ball is damaged from being hit of course, and from hitting the wicket(2) during bounces and if the batsman hits the ball into the pitch. But this damage is an integral part of the match. You see by letting one half of the ball get scuffed up, torn and bruised, whilst the other side is looked after, and polished on the trousers with sweat and saliva, allows the ball to do interesting things. It is this unevenness that allows the ball to be swing by the fast bowlers. What they lose in speed with an older ball they make up for by getting the ball to move around in the air, swinging the ball away from the batsman with one ball, making it swing in towards him with the next. Tis a fine sight to watch!

    Of course the batsmen benefit from this slowing down, which makes the ball easier to see and to hit, but lose from the swinging.

    Which is why cricket is a subtle sport. Things change over the course of a match. The test that finished a few days ago between England and India was a crushing victory for England, due to mainly the weather benefitting England. You see it is not just the ball being rough on one side and polished smooth on the other that is responsible for swing. The moisture in the air and the temperature also affect the amount of swing, colder and moister weather makes the ball swing more. It is no surprise then that England’s bowlers are in the main the fast bowlers who love getting the ball to swing. Indian bowlers, being in a hotter climate tend to favour spin bowlers.

    In fact the amount of damage on a ball is such a significant part of the sport that each cricket club is required by the laws of the game to have a selection of balls in various stages of distress, so that if the ball being used in a match is lost or damaged beyond playability, the umpires can select a ball with a similar amount of damage before letting the match continue. In a test match, the captain of the fielding side is given the option to let their bowlers use a brand new ball after 80 overs. They don’t have to “take the new ball” and can do so at any time after the 80 overs, but this is always an interesting part of any test match, because suddenly the now-a-little-tired fast bowlers have a new fast and bouncy ball to fire down at the not-opening-batsmen, who may not like new balls.

    So us bowling fans have lots of things to watch; how fast the ball is moving, how old it is, if it swings, bounces, or does very little.

    Balls can sometimes do very little. This is one of the controversies in cricket at the moment. The authorities want to see runs. I think fans want to see a balance of runs and wickets(3) being taken. But there is a move towards pitches that don’t allow the ball to do a lot. Not much swinging or turning, balls that bounce up to a nice batsman-friendly height, so that fours and sixes can be slogged away. This is T20 cricket! Forget about the subtleties, simply make the game a competition to see who can score the most runs in the allotted overs. The bowlers might as well be replaced by a machine that delivers the same ball, ball after ball.

    Why are they doing this? Money of course. They feel that people want the excitement of football. A cricket match that can be fitted into a family-friendly 3 hour time slot. Mum’s can take the kiddies after school and before bed-time. I am not being sexist here by the way. The England and Wales Cricket Board have a policy of being mother-friendly! Which is fine, but the true pinnacle of the game for fans and players is the test match, lasting up to five days with all of the complexities and subtleties that the T20 format doesn’t allow for.

    If I still don’t have you convinced just remember this – at test cricket you are not only allowed to be a grumpy, old git, it is positively encouraged.
  • Okay just looking at the first post we have the following.
    Points are awarded for how well you hit the ball, but if the ball hits the sticks, or catches the ball, you have to sit out for a while.

    How can the ball catch the ball?
  • SipechSipech Shipmate
    I always found this to be a much more succinct version.
  • SipechSipech Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    How can the ball catch the ball?
    When it's Jake Ball

  • Sipech wrote: »
    I always found this to be a much more succinct version.

    Makes as much sense as Thatcheright's much longer explanations. (In other words, it makes no sense at all.)

  • Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    Sipech wrote: »
    I always found this to be a much more succinct version.

    Makes as much sense as Thatcheright's much longer explanations. (In other words, it makes no sense at all.)

    Ahh well. It seems that you are incapable of learning what cricket is, as a sport. No shame in that I suppose. We all have our limitations, both physical and intellectual.

    Sorry to have wasted your time. Enjoy your cricket-free life.
  • Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    Sipech wrote: »
    I always found this to be a much more succinct version.

    Makes as much sense as Thatcheright's much longer explanations. (In other words, it makes no sense at all.)

    Ahh well. It seems that you are incapable of learning what cricket is, as a sport. No shame in that I suppose. We all have our limitations, both physical and intellectual.

    Sorry to have wasted your time. Enjoy your cricket-free life.

    I'm sorry for my passive aggressive post Pigwidgeon.

    I am here to try to help people understand cricket and I have given you the brush off when you said in spite of my posts, and the explanation in the "What is Cricket" link, that you still didn't understand it. My apologies.

    What part is confusing you though? Do you have any questions that you need answering?

    Are there any specific parts that you are struggling to understand?

    I'll do my best, as I'm sure will others who follow the game, to help you.
  • Since you can't answer my other question, perhaps you can answer these, considerably easier questions: how many players are on a team? What does the pitch look like and how big is it? Where do the players stand?
  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    Thatcheright, I applaud your intentions, but as someone who finds sport in general boring and inexplicable, your long posts have not inclined me to think cricket might be an exception to the rule! :lol:

    I like Mousethief’s idea of you first explaining some concrete basics, as starting with the details of a wicket doesn’t give me any overall idea of cricket.
  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    Or is it one of those explanations that is supposed to be confusing, as a joke?
  • From my not great understanding, having been around the game forever and occasionally having to play it, each side has eleven players. The side that is fielding is all over the field taking positions with weird names, like deep field (meaning out towards the boundary), silly mid off and square leg. One of the team is bowling and the other is a wicket keeper.

    The other side, in bat or batting, is only on the field two at a time batting at each end of the wicket, which is a smaller section of the full field, usually mown shorter. The wicket refers both to the area of the field where the wickets are found and the arrangement of three upright sticks of wood with a smaller bit across the top (called the bails), either end of the area where the batsman run up and down to get runs. They also get runs by hitting the ball out to the boundary (a six) and out into the field (a four).

    If one of the fielding side catches the ball the batsman who hit it is caught out. Or if the fielders manage to get the ball to the wicket, while the batsman is running between the wickets, and knocks the bails off, the batsman is out.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Okay just looking at the first post we have the following.
    Points are awarded for how well you hit the ball, but if the ball hits the sticks, or catches the ball, you have to sit out for a while.

    How can the ball catch the ball?

    Sorry, I genuinely thought you were being facetious. Of course I should have typed...
    Points are awarded for how well you hit the ball, but if the ball hits the sticks, or one of the opposing team catches the ball before it touches the ground, you have to sit out for a while.
    mousethief wrote: »
    Since you can't answer my other question, perhaps you can answer these, considerably easier questions: how many players are on a team? What does the pitch look like and how big is it? Where do the players stand?

    So I can answer your other question.

    Anyway, moving on...

    There are 11 players on each team. I thought I did mention that when writing the second paragraph of the second post.

    The ground (the large piece of grass on which the match is played) varies in size. They are round in the main and there are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter usually varies between 450 feet (137 m) and 500 feet (150 m).

    The pitch (or the wicket - the dead, brown looking part of the ground where the batsmen are) is exactly 22 yards long from stumps to stumps. There is a unit of measurement in Britain called the chain. It gained its name because a chain exactly 22 yards long was used when setting out new cricket pitches on cricket grounds.

    Where the players stand is a really interesting question. The batsmen stand at the stumps at each end of the wicket (pitch). There are two umpires (referees), one of which stands behind the stumps where the bowler is bowling from, looking down the wicket at the batsman receiving the ball. The other umpire stands at "Square Leg". I will explain that term in a moment. The remaining batsmen are in the pavillion (or club-house or changing rooms call them what you will).

    Now the fielding team is where it gets complicated. A little bit complicated, I mean it isn't brain surgery or anything. Complicated for a sport, that's all.

    And I'm going to answer it with a link to a diagram that names all of the positions.

    Now there are more positions than fielders. There are eleven on the fielding side, one of which is bowling, so the bowler and the captain work out where to put the ten fielders. That is where the tactics of trying to get a batsman out comes into play. Is the batsman known for catching the ball with the outside edge of his bat and sending the ball behind him? If so then they will decide to put more fielders in the slips. If the bowler is a spin bowler, playing slower balls and hoping the batsman catches the ball down towards his leg side, they might put someone at short leg to try to catch it before it hits the ground. Tension and tactics again.
  • finelinefineline Purgatory Host
    Thanks, CK. That gives me more of a sense of the game. I always figured it was a fancy version of rounders, and it does sound that way (not that I ever fully understood rounders either! :lol: )
  • fineline wrote: »
    Thatcheright, I applaud your intentions, but as someone who finds sport in general boring and inexplicable, your long posts have not inclined me to think cricket might be an exception to the rule! :lol:

    I like Mousethief’s idea of you first explaining some concrete basics, as starting with the details of a wicket doesn’t give me any overall idea of cricket.

    Well fair enough. A few of us thought that the numerous posts about cricket being (a) confusing and (b) boring could be dealt with by a few posts outlining the various principles. That is what I have tried to do.

    I don't think it is confusing, but then again I grew up playing and watching it. But I thought that if someone was interested in the sport, they might be helped with a few basics.

    I hope I've been able to show it isn't boring. It is exciting and that is due to the tension being wound up. I suppose if you like something like basketball which is very fast paced and scores happening every few seconds then cricket might not appeal. Fair enough. I like cricket, golf and football. Two slower-paced and played over days, whereas football is 90 minutes and much faster-paced. I don't think that is unusual.

    At the very least if folks complain about not understanding cricket again, we fans have a link to post to irritate them!
  • fineline wrote: »
    Thanks, CK. That gives me more of a sense of the game. I always figured it was a fancy version of rounders, and it does sound that way (not that I ever fully understood rounders either! :lol: )

    No. Sorry. Rounders is a very, very much simplified version of cricket!
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    I do appreciate this thread, as I have been slowly trying to learn and appreciate cricket.

    One point that I don't think was made clear (although I may have just missed it--I admit to having "skim-read") is that there is no such thing as "foul territory" in cricket. You play more or less in the middle of the pitch (very roughly speaking) and the ball can be hit...anywhere. That is what makes positioning the fielders so tricky.

    For those having trouble grasping the game, I will say that it makes more sense when you can actually see it played. I started by watching some T20 matches from Australia (the "Big Bash League") which ESPN was broadcasting in the USA to fill up its schedule. The strategy of T20 is massively different from the strategy used for Test Cricket, but even watching a quick T20 match makes the whole game easier to understand.

    As with most sports, cricket has developed a lot of jargon and much of it I still don't fully understand, but that is part of the learning experience.
  • ThatcherightThatcheright Shipmate
    edited August 16
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    I do appreciate this thread, as I have been slowly trying to learn and appreciate cricket.

    One point that I don't think was made clear (although I may have just missed it--I admit to having "skim-read") is that there is no such thing as "foul territory" in cricket. You play more or less in the middle of the pitch (very roughly speaking) and the ball can be hit...anywhere. That is what makes positioning the fielders so tricky.

    For those having trouble grasping the game, I will say that it makes more sense when you can actually see it played. I started by watching some T20 matches from Australia (the "Big Bash League") which ESPN was broadcasting in the USA to fill up its schedule. The strategy of T20 is massively different from the strategy used for Test Cricket, but even watching a quick T20 match makes the whole game easier to understand.

    As with most sports, cricket has developed a lot of jargon and much of it I still don't fully understand, but that is part of the learning experience.

    Thank you Hedgehog for those kind words. It is much appreciated.

    You are right in that the game is played anywhere within the boundary - the large roughly round area of grass.

    You are right about the jargon as well. Just using the word "wicket" with four different meaning for example!

    But all sports have their own jargon. As you say, working it out is part of learning the game, and increasing the enjoyment.

    Somebody made a point a few years ago - I can't remember where but I think it was on UK radio if my failing memory serves me well - that cricket ought to do well as a sport in the US given how they like to discuss the statistics of teams and individual players. Cricket is loaded with them. I think I heard it before T20 cricket really took off globally, so maybe cricket will get a toehold in the US via that format.

    It is a good introduction to the sport and family friendly. It is played with a white cricket ball, under floodlights in the evenings, and lasts around 3 hours. It is much faster paced than the other formats, with wickets prepared to be batsman friendly, and rules that prevent the fielders from taking too many catches. In practice this means the batsmen attempt to hit just about every ball for six! Plenty of action.

    I don't like the T20 format to be honest. I like what are known as First Class matches which are test matches and domestic matches played to the same rues as test matches. But it's a sport that offers choice.

    One thing that does interest me though, does cricket get shown on American TV?

    I believe it is in Canada because Canada has one of the largest T20 competitions throughout their summer. In fact that is where Steve Smith is/was playing after his ban from Australian cricket.

    I'm more than happy to answer questions but I don't think there is the need for long posts anymore - I think I've covered the basics (unless someone tells me I've missed an important part out of course!).

    I will leave it so sionisais to explain the Duckworth-Lewis method though!
  • fineline wrote: »
    Thanks, CK. That gives me more of a sense of the game. I always figured it was a fancy version of rounders, and it does sound that way (not that I ever fully understood rounders either! :lol: )
    Some differences from rounders, in that in rounders there are four posts to make the square that you run around - without stopping - to get a rounder, rather than run back and forth between the two wickets, and if you stop part way round at one of the posts in rounders you don't score anything you're just not out. And there could, in theory, be four players standing at each of the posts with another attempting to hit the ball, all in play. In cricket both batsmen have to run and end up at the other end to get a run (or two or more), so double the jeopardy in getting one or other out (I *think* it's the batsman in mid field that is out, but I really am not great at this one). You see the batsmen using their bat to reach to the wicket end before turning around and running back when they are trying to make a number of runs. But similar in that if a ball gets to one of the posts/wickets while someone is running between them, they are got out. In rounders each player lines up to hit the ball one after another and then runs as far round the square as they can, in cricket, the two batsmen are out there until they are got out, then someone else is sent out to play.

    But cricket gets much, much more complicated - there's lbw or leg before wicket, which means that if the ball would have struck the wicket if a batsman had not been standing in front of the wicket when the bowler bowls at them, they can be found out lbw. I was just trying to give a quick basic idea of the game.
  • SipechSipech Shipmate
    Also important to remember is that some of the laws of the game have come about more by evolution than by design.

    For example, you cannot have more than 2 fielders behind square on the leg side. This didn't use to be in the laws until the infamous Bodyline tour. What happened was that the fielding team was packing this area with fielders and then bowling short pitched deliveries at the batsmen.

    Then, a lot of catches came in that area and it was deemed unfair play so the laws were changed.

    It's a bit like UK tax legislation. Someone finds a loophole, exploits it and then, later on, the authorities change the law to stop it. The ending result can look rather confusing, but there is a reason for each part.
  • fineline wrote: »
    Thanks, CK. That gives me more of a sense of the game. I always figured it was a fancy version of rounders, and it does sound that way (not that I ever fully understood rounders either! :lol: )
    In cricket both batsmen have to run and end up at the other end to get a run (or two or more), so double the jeopardy in getting one or other out (I *think* it's the batsman in mid field that is out, but I really am not great at this one). You see the batsmen using their bat to reach to the wicket end before turning around and running back when they are trying to make a number of runs. But similar in that if a ball gets to one of the posts/wickets while someone is running between them, they are got out.

    These are called "run outs". You are right in your description of them.

    If the batsman has moved away from their stumps the fielder who gets the ball will attempt to throw the ball at their stumps. If they hit the batsman is out.

    The batsmen will be away from their wicket to try to get runs. In T20 because the focus os on getting as many runs as possible as quickly as possible, batsmen will take more risks attempting to get "a quick single" (one run) or an extra run when they shouldn't do. For example the batsman might hit the ball far enough away to get a single run, but then decide to try for another one because they think the fielder is too far away to hit the stumps. Again it adds to the pace and excitement of T20.

    Of course you might get run out by your own team-mate! In the test just finished here in England, the Indian captain Virat Kohli hit the ball and started to run for a quick single, so his fellow batsman Pujara came away from his stumps and started running as well. But Kohli changed his mind and turned back to his stumps. Cheteshwar Pujara started to run back to his stumps but Ollie Pope picked up the ball, threw it at the stumps and hit them before Pujara could get back. It was Kohli's indecision that got Pujara out!

    A similar way of getting a batsman out is the "stumping". If the batsman misses the ball, the wicket keeper can catch it and hit the stumps with the ball, and if the batsman has drifted too far away from his stumps he is out.

    The stumping and Leg Before Wicket dismissals actually have to be asked for by the fielding team! If they don't ask the umpire to adjudicate then the batsman isn't out, hence the shouts of "Howzat" for stumping and LBW calls. It is a quick way of saying "How was that?" to the umpire. A true gentlemen's game!

    Actually I need to apologise. I have been using the term batsman, him, gentlemen etc with abandon. Of course women play the game as well, and play it brilliantly. Please mentally replace references to the male with the gender of your choice.
  • I started using him too, and then thought how well the England women's team has been doing and of a work colleague who used to play for New Zealand, and how she'd have been so cross if she wasn't mentioned, so changed it to them/they/their,
  • I started using him too, and then thought how well the England women's team has been doing and of a work colleague who used to play for New Zealand, and how she'd have been so cross if she wasn't mentioned, so changed it to them/they/their,

    But then I would have to one of the following for the person currently at bat...

    - Batsman/Batswoman
    - Batperson
    - Batter

    The first is just too much typing. Someone commented on how many words I had used so having to type batsman/batswoman every time would just get silly.

    Batperson just feels a bit forced, a bit precious. Actually a bit silly.

    Batter - No. just no. The next thing people would be shouting "batter up" at Lord's which would be absolutely unacceptable.

    So batsman it is, with a note for people to replace it with batswoman in their own heads should they so wish.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Cricket is available on US television--just barely. I saw the Big Bash League shown on ESPN. To be honest, I think it was an edited presentation (to fit into a 2 hour window--ESPN does much the same thing with replays of American football games) and was shown during December/January on Wednesdays...basically at a time when no American sports would be going on "live." I believe it was the playoffs.

    However, Willow TV is also available for an extra charge (either from my local cable provider or directly streaming from Willow itself). I have not yet convinced myself that it is worth the extra cost, but I gather the Cricket World Cup is next year and it might be worth a subscription for a couple months to see that.
  • A chain is called a chain because it's the length of a cricket wicket? And here I thought it was because it was the length of a chain, said chain being 1/10 of a furlong, a furlong being the length a ploughman ploughs before turning around and ploughing the other way (i.e. one furrow long). There are 80 chains in a mile. You are suggesting the length of a mile was originally based on the length of a cricket wicket.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Thanks to Thatcheright for this thread. It is only when trying to explain cricket having grown up with it,that one realises how complex it is!

    The term wicket is confusing. It can also refer to what is a stump..one of the 3 poles of precise height set in the turf at either end of the surface. And, it can also be a metaphor for the batter’s status. A batter can be said to sell his wicket dearly.lie be hard to dislodge or get ‘out.’

    The actual ‘wicket’ is the surface and traditionally it is grassed and shaved to provide a hard soil/clay surface that will wear predictably over the 5 playing days of a test match. It is 22 yards long exactly.

    Shorter versions of the test format last 3 days or sometimes 2 in lower grades. The idea is that each team of 11 players gets 2 turns at batting. If a team makes a huge score..say 500 plus in one innings, they can use up 3 days doing that but then, to win the game, they have to bowl the opposition out twice ie take 20 ‘wickets’ in the 2 remaining days.

    If by day 3 both teams are even in runs, ie each has batted and gained similar totals, the team that bats first can set up a run chase on the last day. If they are not dismissed and have a healthy lead they can ‘declare’ their inning closed. The team batting last has then to decide whether to go for the win or play for a draw. If they cannot be dismissed before the end of the 5 days, the match is drawn..Yep. All that effort and no result!

    One last comment. The team batting last has the worst of the pitch conditions and experience has shown that run chases over 250 on the last day are rarely achieved. Another factor is the relative fatigue of the players after grafting for 5 days. Often it is the team with the fresher bowlers that pull off a win on the final day.

  • mousethief wrote: »
    A chain is called a chain because it's the length of a cricket wicket? And here I thought it was because it was the length of a chain, said chain being 1/10 of a furlong, a furlong being the length a ploughman ploughs before turning around and ploughing the other way (i.e. one furrow long). There are 80 chains in a mile. You are suggesting the length of a mile was originally based on the length of a cricket wicket.

    T'other way round 'owd lad.

    The rules of cricket used to state that the distance between the stumps was to be exactly one chain - 22 yards. At my school we had an actual chain in the PE departments store room and if you annoyed the PE teacher he would make you carry it when doing cross country the bitter and twisted not-good-enough-to-be-a-footballer git!

    The chain came before the wicket. Sorry if my explanation of the distance between the stumps was confusing. Anyway, these days they just measure out 22 yards.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    edited August 17
    Ah, yes, the Duckworth-Lewis method.
    I’m not going into detail- if you want to know then the search engine of your choice will find that - but suffice to say that when a limited overs match is interrupted after it has commenced and the number of overs reduced then the target score of the side batting second is adjusted. The formula is fiendish but the effect is acknowledged as far better than any of the methods tried before which gave an unfair advantage to one side. Naturally, if a side is well on top before play is interrupted then that will be reflected in the revised target.

    My only reservation is that the side batting always knows exactly what the target is at any point in their innings, but the side batting second has always had that advantage in limited overs cricket.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    I could use a discussion of "Extras" on scoring during test matches. England & India are going at it as I type, and the "Extras" line reads: 2nb 0w 22b 4lb.

    Now I think that reads as 2 "no balls"; 0 "wide"; 22 "byes" and 4 "leg byes"--just based on the commentaries. But what does that mean? What is the difference between one going "wide" and one going "bye" or "leg bye"? And is the scoring just one run for each violation?
  • No ball - means the bowler has committed a violation, usually with his feet and the crease.
    Wide - ball has gone sideways beyond the width of the popping (batsman's) crease.
    Bye - bowling is OK but the batsman hasn't needed to hit it. There is sufficient time to run safely before it is fielded.
    Leg bye - as above but it's glanced off a leg as it's gone through.

    I think they all count as one run.
  • No ball - means the bowler has committed a violation, usually with his feet and the crease.
    Wide - ball has gone sideways beyond the width of the popping (batsman's) crease.
    Bye - bowling is OK but the batsman hasn't needed to hit it. There is sufficient time to run safely before it is fielded.
    Leg bye - as above but it's glanced off a leg as it's gone through.

    I think they all count as one run.

    If the batsmenn can run without having hit the ball, they can score in the same way as they would had they hit it. They then count as so many (leg) byes.

    If the ball crosses the boundary unpropelled by the batsman, it's 4 (leg) byes.

  • Indeed.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Okay, so see if I have this right.

    No Ball: the bowler has done something wrong, like overstepped the mark. In that case, the batsman needs do nothing--one run awarded.

    Wide: Ball is well off target and missed the crease, much less the wicket(1). Presumably the ball wanders off into the field where one of the fielders can pick it up and send it back in. The batsman can, if they choose, run to get as many runs as they safely can before the ball comes back in. But if, somehow, the ball goes over the boundary before it is stopped by a fielder, it is 4 runs, just as if the ball had been hit.

    Bye: Bowler did nothing wrong but the ball (a) misses the wicket(1) and (b) gets by the wicket keeper (and, I guess, anybody in the slips). Again, batsman can run if it gets far enough away and it may be a boundary shot and 4 runs awarded.

    Leg bye: Same as above, except that it hits a leg and then gets by the wicket(1) etc. In this case, however, if the ball would have hit the wicket(1) but for the fact that it struck the leg, then it is no runs and the batsman is out as "leg before wicket."

    Is that substantially correct? Does that mean that, under the stats, No Ball and Wide are blamed on the bowler, while Bye and Leg Bye are blamed on the wicket keeper?
  • Basically yes. If a No Ball or a Wide is bowled, that doesn't count as one of the 6 balls in the over, either.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Byes are counted against the 'keeper, but leg byes are not as they can go in any direction. Also the batter has to play a shot of some sort at the ball for a leg bye to count. They can't kick the ball away or passively use their pads then get a leg bye.

    In limited overs cricket wides are called far more often than in Test matches and first-class (ie 3/4 day, two innings per side) cricket. Anything to the leg-side of the batter (ie, "behind him"!) is called "wide" and the ball has also to be within a couple of feet of the stumps on the other side as it passes the batting crease. The "no ball" rule is tighter too, to restrict short-pitched bowling that results in the ball passing about waist height (no, I don't know why: it isn't going to hit the stumps, and many batters can hit such bowling without much difficulty - typically past third base's right hand in baseball terms (for a right-hander).

    The rules about leg before wicket are not simple. I'm not going there just now.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Thank you all. There are some nice subtleties in all that, but it generally makes sense. For example, I can see why, in a limited overs situation like T20, you would be far more prone to call "no ball" so as to make sure that the 6 balls in the over are legitimate chances for the batsman.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Having been one of the worst umpires ever, looking back, I finally leaned what an LBW should look like.

    Essentially the ball pitches in line, misses the bat and would have hit the stumps if not stopped by the batter’s leg or other body part.

    The one time that does not apply is if the ball pitches outside the line of leg stump.

    If the batter nicked it onto his pad then he is not out but if it hits pad first then bat, he can be. If the ball pitches outside off stump, tradition often gives benefit of doubt to the batter but in these days of slomo replays there is increasingly less’benefit,’

    With modern technology, test match sides get 2 reviews per innings where they can challenge an on field decision. Either the batter or the fielding captain can call for a review.

    Controversy still rages amongst purists as to whether technology should be used. Some say that the odd ‘roughie’ decision is just part of the nature of the game.

    What surprises me is how often the officials get it right!
  • Thanks MPaul. The irony of the decision review system is that towards the end of India’s second innings in the Test match ended yesterday , two lbws were given that would have been overturned on review had any been available.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    edited September 5
    The uninitiated often ask "Why are there so many draws?" to which the answer is that the match was unfinished. This is often becuse weather interferes with play but sometimes the side batting last hangs on and time runs out or the bowling captain realises that the bowlers are knackered and they aren't going to force a win.

    Just now and again however, and this is really rare, a match is played to a finish with both sides scoring the same number of runs and the final innings being completed as in today's match at Taunton, where Somerset and Lancashire tied.

    For reference, just two Test matches have ended in ties, of about 2,000.
  • Following on from that point, would someone like to discuss another aspect of cricket?
  • I could do with a discussion of the ball. I read test cricket being referred to as "red ball" cricket, apparently as a distinction from "white ball"--apart from color, is there an actual difference in the make-up of the ball? And how many colors do we have across the Wide World Of Cricket?

    I get that the same ball stays in the match for a certain amount of time (at which point a "new ball" can be selected). So I gather that, rather like soccer, if the ball goes into the stands the spectators are expected to return it to the field promptly. Some discussion of the rules on that would be useful. I did watch a T20 match from Australia where the ball got stuck up in an architectural nook of the stand so that it literally could not be retrieved--leading to an interesting rules problem!
  • Let me see if I can break this down:

    Cricket balls come in three colours: red, white and pink. White ones are used for limited overs cricket, with one ball from each end. Pink are used for first-class matches played under floodlights (as part of the normal schedule) and red balls otherwise. Why these variations? Well, the white ball is more visible than the red one but it deteriorates faster, and neither the red ball nor a white ball is suitable for day/night first-class cricket hence the pink ball, which behaves more like the red ball, but not entirely so.

    If a ball is lost or goes out of shape it is replaced by one of the same type and about the same condition. It's not unknown for captains and bowlers to plead with the umpires that the ball is out of shape if they are being carted around the field.

    Another variation is the brand of ball. In the British Isles and the West Indies the Duke ball is used, in India the SG ball and elsewhere the Australian Kookaburra ball. The Duke has a higher seam so it swings late and moves more off the pitch. The Kookaburra hardly deteriorates at all and doesn't have a pronounced seam, which explains why some English bowlers don't do so well down under but also explains higher scores there too.

    Hope that helps
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited September 6
    sionisais wrote: »
    Just now and again however, and this is really rare, a match is played to a finish with both sides scoring the same number of runs and the final innings being completed as in today's match at Taunton, where Somerset and Lancashire tied.
    What happens in limited-over knockout cricket, where a result is required? Do the captains toss a coin, or is it reckoned on the number of wickets taken? It strikes me that one side could finish on 215/7 and the other on 215/9; or one side could use up all the overs and score 215/7, with the other being bowled out for the same score but with overs left unbowled. In both cases I'd aware victory to the first tram, but it might not work like this. Duckworth & Lewis, we need you!

  • sionisais wrote: »
    Just now and again however, and this is really rare, a match is played to a finish with both sides scoring the same number of runs and the final innings being completed as in today's match at Taunton, where Somerset and Lancashire tied.
    What happens in limited-over knockout cricket, where a result is required? Do the captains toss a coin, or is it reckoned on the number of wickets taken? It strikes me that one side could finish on 215/7 and the other on 215/9; or one side could use up all the overs and score 215/7, with the other being bowled out for the same score but with overs left unbowled. In both cases I'd aware victory to the first tram, but it might not work like this. Duckworth & Lewis, we need you!

    It has varied and it still varies. If the number of runs is equal in a T20 contest then irrespective of the number of wickets down or whether the match is part of a league rather than a knock-out, each side bowls and faces a "super over" to get a definitive result. One bowler delivers six balls to a bhowever, each team nominates one bowler to bowl a "Superover". Theopposition send in a pair of batters and they try to score as many runs as posible. one of these can be dismissed but if two are dismissed in the super over no further batters come in .

    Nowadays, in conventional 50 overs per side limited overs cricket, it isn't always done, but in the knockout stages of a competition it has to be. The number of wickets lost decides it as BT describes. If that doesnit give a result then I depends on the rules of the competition. For a long time the scores at 30 overs were used but I think Duckworth-Lewis is resorted to nowadays, although I don't know where they draw the line. In any event I'm sure it's better than "bowl offs" in which bowlers would bowl at unguarded stumps, sometimes indoors, coin tosses and considering earlier results.
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