Introduction to cricket

Cricket explained in brief

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 very much in the ascendancy and bringing cricket to a new generation of fans and participants, there's perhaps never been a better time to throw yourself into cricket and experience the feel of leather on willow or the thrill of seeing those stumps splayed by another unplayable delivery.

Aside from the confusing terms, (check out our guide to cricket fielding positions) 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. (See The laws of cricket article for further details).
  • 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. Pakistan pace bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, sent down the fastest recorded delivery at a speed of over 100mph (160.9kmh). But there is nothing quiet 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, 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.

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