The profile of cricket is on the up, thanks mainly to Twenty20 Cricket, which has introduced the game to a whole new generation of fans. Inevitably there's plenty of budding cricketers wanting to give it a go or return to a game they last played at school. Here's some top advice on what to do if you want to get started in cricket...
A renewed interest in the game at international level is creeping through to the grassroots of the sport, with more and more people wanting to get involved.
If the explosive action of Twenty20 cricket or the tactical battle of a Test Match has given you a burning desire to pick up a bat, but you’re not sure what you should do next, then read on.
Some people may be completely new to the game, while others may have played in the past and want to get back into it. The good news is that whatever your age or level of fitness, there is a team out there for you.
Many clubs have several teams from the First XI, right down to a fourth or fifth XI, with good junior ranks and coaching for beginners.
You need not concern yourself too much with the gear initially. Go along and try cricket out, maybe with a bit of instruction in the 'nets' (the off-pitch practice area), and then you might want think about buying the basic kit – consisting of cricketing ‘whites’ (clothing) and shoes and perhaps a ‘box’ – just in case.
Most clubs will be able to lend you a cricket bat, pads, gloves and a helmet, all of which you can buy later for yourself if you become more involved.
A number of initiatives aimed at getting youngsters interested in cricket have been started, these games teach the basics and are played with a soft ball – so you need not worry about getting hurt. Players who feel they are up to facing the hard ball should look for a club. There also opportunities for people with disabilities to get involved, with table cricket, played on table tennis table, blind cricket for anyone with visual difficulties, and wheelchair cricket.
Cricket is a game that can appear very confusing to the beginner with an array of rules, bizarre terminology and games that can last five days and still end in a draw.
While it can appear baffling – with a nightwatchman being out for a duck after being caught at silly mid-off (just one typically confusing scenario), once you start to learn the basics, the game becomes both enjoyable and at times completely gripping.
With Twenty20 cricket bringing cricket to a new generation of fans and participants, there's perhaps never been a better time to throw yourself into the sport.
Aside from the confusing terms, which will quickly become second nature, the game of cricket is simple – the idea being to score more runs (points) than the opposition. Whatever the form of cricket, whether it is a Test Match (over five days) or one day (limited overs) event, each side will have 11 players taking it in turns to bat and bowl.
- An ‘over’ consists of six consecutive balls bowled by the same bowler.
- A ‘run’ is a point which can be scored by the batsman after the ball has been bowled.
- The majority of games played at amateur level will be limited over games, generally ranging in the number of overs from anything between 15-50 overs per side – it all depends very much on the level you are playing at.
- Cricket can be quite a nerve wracking sport, with a hard ball flying past at very fast pace. Former Pakistan pace bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, holds one of the fastest recorded deliveries at a speed of over 100mph (160.9kmh). But there is nothing quite like the feeling of cracking the ball for six or taking a wicket or a great catch to get the adrenalin flowing.
- The sport requires good hand-eye coordination for batting and bowling, while speed, strength, guile and agility are often required when fielding.
- The sport originated in England and is popular in many areas that formerly made up the British Empire. The major international test teams are England, Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. The majority of the terms used in the game originated in England and Australia.
Different variations of professional cricket
- Test Match – usually played over five days with two innings per side.
- Limited overs (one day) cricket – usually 50 overs per side (300 balls per side) for one innings each.
- Twenty20 cricket – amounting to a 20 overs (120 balls) slog per side.