What is Cricket
Cricket is a team sport played between two groups of eleven players
each. It originated in its modern form in England, and is popular
mainly in the countries of the Commonwealth. In some countries in
South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,
cricket is by far the most popular sport. Cricket is also a major
sport in England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,
Zimbabwe and the English-speaking Caribbean (called the West
The length of the game — a match can last six or
more hours a day, for up to five days in Test matches (internationals)
— the numerous intervals for lunch and tea, and the rich terminology
are notable aspects which can confuse those not familiar with the sport.
For its fans, the sport and the intense rivalries between the top cricketing
nations provide passionate entertainment that has occasionally given
rise to diplomatic outrage, especially the infamous Bodyline series
played between England and Australia.
A cricket match in
The beige strip is the cricket pitch. The people
wearing black trousers on the far right are the umpires.
Objective and summary
Laws of Cricket
Players and officials
The playing field
Batting and scoring runs
Bowling and dismissals
Fielding and wicket-keeping
Forms of Cricket
Action at the centre of the ground.
Cricket is a bat and ball sport. The objective of the game is to
score more runs (points) than the opposing team.
A match is divided into innings, during which one team bats while
the other team bowls and fields.
In each innings, the bowling team tries to limit the runs scored by
the batting team and to get the opposition players out, an event
which is described as 'taking a wicket'.
The batting team keeps two batsmen on the field. Each player bats
until he is out, and then is replaced and does not bat again in that
innings. Once ten of the eleven players of the batting team have
been dismissed (i.e., ten wickets have been taken) the team is said
to be 'All Out' and the ir innings comes to an end. A team's innings
may also be declared closed by the batting team's captain.
Matches may be played over one or two innings – that is, one or two
turns at bat for each team, so that a "two innings match" contains
four innings in total. For most one innings matches such as one-day
matches, each team's innings is limited to a set number of overs. An
over is a set of six legal (fair) deliveries or balls. This type of
match is often called limited-overs cricket.
Conclusion of the match
The first team to bat sets a target score for the second team, which
chases the target when it comes to bat. (In a two innings match, the
target is the sum of the first- and second-innings scores.) Matches
usually end in one of these ways:
• The batting team reaches their target. They are said to have won
the match by n wicket(s), where n is the number of additional
wickets the opposing team needed to take to bring the innings to an
• The batting team is dismissed before they can reach their target.
They are said to have lost the match by n run(s), where n is the
difference in scores between the teams.
• In two innings matches, the allotted time for the match expires
without the batting team either reaching their target or being
dismissed. In this case the result is a draw. A team that sets an
enormous target but takes a long time over it risks drawing the
match by leaving themselves insufficient time to dismiss the other
team, which is the reason a captain will often declare his team's
• In limited-overs (usually one innings) matches, the second team to
bat exceeds the score of the first team before the allotted number
of overs are up. In this case, the second team batting wins.
• Also in limited-overs matches, the maximum number of overs
available for the second team to bat are used up. In this case,
provided the number of runs made by the first team are not exceeded
or equalled on the last ball, the second team batting loses.
If, in a two-innings match, the first team to bat are dismissed
in their second innings with a combined first- and second-innings score less
than the first-innings score of their opponents (a rare occurrence), the match
is concluded and they are said to have lost by an innings and n runs, where n is
the difference in score between the teams. If the team batting last is dismissed
with the scores exactly equal, i.e. they are one run short of their target (an
extremely rare occurrence) the match is a tie.
If the match has only a single innings per side, with a set number of
deliveries, and the match is temporarily interrupted by bad weather, then a
mathematical formula known as the Duckworth-Lewis method is used to recalculate
a new target score.
If such a match is abandoned without completion due to an impossibility of
continuing the play, because of an extended period of bad weather, unruly crowd
or any such unlikely event or situation, the result is declared as No-Result if
less than a previously agreed number of overs has been bowled by either team.
Laws of cricket
The game is played in accordance with 42 laws of cricket, which have been
developed by the Marylebone Cricket Club in discussion with the main cricketing
nations. Teams may agree to alter some of the rules for particular games. Other
rules supplement the main laws and change them to deal with particular
circumstances. In particular, there are a number of modifications to the playing
structure and fielding position rules that apply to one innings games that are
restricted to a set number of fair deliveries.
Players and officials
Each team consists of eleven players. Depending on his primary skills, a player
may be classified as a specialist batsman or bowler. A balanced team usually has
five or six specialist batsmen and four or five specialist bowlers. A player who
excels in both fields is known as an all-rounder. One player of the team that is
currently bowling takes up the role of a wicket-keeper, which is a highly
specialised fielding position.
Two on-field umpires preside over a match. One umpire will stand behind the
wicket at the end from which the ball is bowled, and adjudicate on most
decisions. The other will stand near the fielding position called square leg,
which offers a side view of the batsman, and assist on decisions for which he
has a better view. In some professional matches, they may refer a decision to an
off-field 'third' umpire, who has the assistance of television replays. In
international matches an off-field match referee ensures that play is within the
laws of cricket and the spirit of the game.
A standard cricket ground, showing the cricket pitch (brown),
close-infield (light green) within 15 yards (13.7 m) of the striking batsman,
infield (medium green) inside the white 30 yard (27.4 m) circle, and outfield
(dark green), with sight screens beyond the boundary at either end.
A wicket consists of three stumps, upright wooden poles that
are hammered into the ground, topped with two wooden crosspieces, known as the
The standard fielding positions in cricket for a right-handed
batsman; the positions are reflected for a left-handed batsman.
A perspective view of the cricket pitch from the bowler's end.
The bowler runs in past one side of the wicket at the bowler's end, either
'over' the wicket or 'round' the wicket.
The cricket field consists of a large circular or oval-shaped grassy ground.
There are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter usually varies
between 450 feet (137 m) to 500 feet (150 m). In most stadiums, a rope
demarcates the perimeter of the field and is known as the boundary.
Most of the action takes place in the centre of this ground, on a rectangular
clay strip usually with short grass called the pitch. The pitch measures 10 × 66
feet (3.05 × 20.12 m).
At each end of the pitch three upright wooden poles, called the stumps, are
hammered into the ground. Two wooden crosspieces, known as the bails, sit in
grooves atop the stumps, linking each to its neighbour. Each set of three stumps
and two bails is collectively known as a wicket. One end of the pitch is
designated the batting end where the batsman stands and the other is designated
the bowling end where the bowler runs in to bowl.
Lines drawn or painted on the pitch are known as creases. Creases are used to
adjudicate the dismissals of batsmen and to determine whether a delivery is
fair.Parts of the field
For a one-innings match played over a set number of fair deliveries, there are
two additional field markings. A painted oval is made by drawing a semicircle of
30 yards (27.4 m) radius from the centre of each wicket with respect to the
breadth of the pitch and joining them with lines parallel, 30 yards (27.4 m) to
the length of the pitch. This line, commonly known as the circle, divides the
field into an infield and outfield. Two circles of radius 15 yards (13.7 m),
centred on each wicket and often marked by dots, define the close-infield. The
infield, outfield, and the close-infield are used to enforce fielding
The team batting always has two batsmen on the field. One batsman, known as the
striker, faces and plays the balls bowled by the bowler. His partner stands at
the bowling end and is known as the non-striker. The wicket-keeper stands or
crouches behind the wicket at the batting end.
The captain of the fielding team spreads his remaining nine players — the
fielders — around the ground to cover most of the area. Their placement may vary
dramatically depending on strategy. Each position on the field has a unique
On the day of the match, the captains inspect the pitch to determine the type of
bowlers whose bowling would be suited for the offered pitch surface and select
their eleven players. The two opposing captains then toss a coin. The captain
winning the toss may choose either to bat or bowl first.
Each innings is subdivided into overs. Each over consists of six consecutive
deliveries bowled by the same bowler. No bowler is allowed to bowl consecutive
overs. After the completion of an over, the bowler takes up a fielding position,
while another player takes over the bowling.
After every over, the batting and bowling ends are swapped, and the field
positions are adjusted. The umpires swap so the umpire at the bowler's end moves
to square leg, and the umpire at square leg moves to the new bowler's end.
End of an innings
An innings is completed if:
1. Ten out of eleven batsmen are 'out' (dismissed).
2. A team chasing a given target number of runs to win manages to do so.
3. The predetermined number of overs are bowled (in a one-day match only,
usually 50 overs).
4. A captain declares his innings closed (this does not apply to one-day limited
Typically, two innings matches are played over three to five days with at least
six hours of cricket being played each day. One innings matches are usually
played over one day for six hours or more. There are formal intervals on each
day for lunch and tea, and shorter breaks for drinks, where necessary. There is
also a short interval between innings.
The game is only played in dry weather. Additionally, as in professional cricket
it is common for balls to be bowled at over 90 mph (144 km/h), the game needs to
be played in daylight that is good enough for a batsman to be able to see the
ball. Play is therefore halted when it rains (but not usually when it drizzles)
and when there is bad light. Some one-day games are now played under
floodlights, but, apart from few experimental games in Australia, floodlights
are not used in longer games. Professional cricket is generally played outdoors.
These requirements mean that in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
and Zimbabwe the game is usually played in the summer. In the West Indies,
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh games are played in the winter. In
these countries the hurricane and cyclone season coincides with their summers.
The directions in which a batsman intends to
send the ball when playing various cricketing shots.
Batsmen stand waiting for the ball at the batting crease. The wooden bat that a
batsman uses consists of a long handle and a flat surface on one side. If the
batsman hits the ball with his bat, it is called a shot (or stroke). If the ball
brushes the side of the bat it is called an edge or snick. Shots are named
according to the style of swing and the direction in the field to which the
batsman desires to hit the ball. Depending on the team's strategy, he may be
required to bat defensively in an effort to not get out, or to bat aggressively
to score runs quickly.
Batsmen come in to bat in a batting order, which is determined by the team
captain. The first two positions, known as "openers", are generally a
specialised position, as they face the most hostile bowling (the opposing team's
fast bowlers are at their freshest and the ball is new). After that, the team
typically bats in descending order of batting skill, the first five or six
batsmen usually being the best in the team. After them the all-rounders follow
and finally the bowlers (who are usually not known for their batting abilities).
This order may be changed at any time during the course of the game for
To score a run, a striker must hit the ball and run to the opposite end of the
pitch, while his non-striking partner runs to his end. Both runners must touch
the ground behind the popping crease with either his bat or his body to register
a run. If the striker hits the ball well enough, the batsmen may double back to
score two or more runs. This is known as running between wickets. But there is
no tip and run rule, so the batsmen are not required to attempt a run when the
ball is hit. If a fielder knocks the bails off the stumps with the ball while no
batsman is grounded behind the nearest popping crease, the nearest batsman is
run out. If the ball goes over the boundary, then four runs are scored, or six
if the ball has not bounced.
Every run scored by the batsmen contributes to the team's total. A team's total
also includes a number of runs which are unaccredited to any batsmen. These runs
are known as extras, apart from in Australia where they are also called
sundries. Extras consist of byes, leg byes, no balls, wides and penalty runs.
The former two are runs that can be scored if the batsman misses making contact
with bat and ball, and the latter two are types of fouls committed by the
bowler. For serious infractions such as tampering with the ball, deliberate
time-wasting, and damaging the pitch, the umpires may award penalty extras to
the opposition; in each case five runs. A team need not be batting in order to
receive penalty extras.
A cricket ball used in Test matches. The white stitching is
known as the seam.
A bowler delivers the ball toward the batsmen, using what is known as a bowling
action: his arm must not straighten at the elbow during the delivery. If he
straightens his arm in any manner, it is an illegal throw and the delivery is
called a no-ball. Usually the bowler pitches the ball so that it bounces before
reaching the batsman. When bowling, bowlers must release the ball with their
entire back foot inside the area bounded by the creases, and so too some part of
the front foot inside this area, to prevent it from being called a no-ball. The
ball must also be delivered so it is within the batsman's reach, otherwise it is
termed a wide. Note: A wide cannot be called if the ball is hit by the batsmen.
The bowler's primary goal is to take wickets; that is, to get a batsman out or
dismissed. If a bowler can dismiss the more accomplished batsmen on the opposing
team he reduces the opportunity for them to score, as it exposes the less
skilful batsmen. Their next task is to limit the numbers of runs scored per over
they bowl. This is known as the Economy rate. If a bowler gets a batsman out, he
is credited for this achievement. There are two main kinds of bowlers : pace
bowlers and spin bowlers.
Dismissal of a batsman
A batsman is allowed to bat as long as he doesn't get out (also known as being
dismissed). There are ten ways of being dismissed, some of which are credited as
wickets to the bowler, some of which are not credited to any player. If the
batsman is dismissed, another player from the batting team replaces him until
ten batsmen are out and the innings is over. Only one batsman can be dismissed
per ball bowled.
Fielders assist the bowlers to prevent
batsmen from scoring too many runs. They do this in two ways: by taking catches
to dismiss a batsman, and by intercepting hit balls and returning them to the
pitch to attempt run-outs to restrict the scoring of runs.
The wicket-keeper is a specialist fielder who stands behind the batsman's wicket
throughout the game. His primary job is to gather deliveries that the batsman
fails to hit, to prevent them running into the outfield, which would enable
batsmen to score byes. To this end, he wears special gloves and pads to cover
his lower legs; the only fielder to do so. Due to his position relative directly
behind the striker, the wicket-keeper has a good chance of getting a batsman out
caught off a fine edge from the bat; thicker edges are typically handled by the
"slips" fieldsmen. The wicket-keeper is also the only person who can get a
batsman out stumped.
The captain's acumen in deciding the strategy is crucial to the team's success.
The captain makes a number of important decisions, including setting field
positions, shuffling the bowlers and taking the toss.
In the event of a batsman being fit to bat but too injured to run, he may
request the umpire and the fielding captain for a runner. The runner chosen
must, if possible, be a player who has already been given out. After a batsman
hits the ball, the runner's only task is to run between the wickets instead of
the injured batsman.
In ODI cricket only, a single substitution is allowed during the game. A player
who is replaced cannot return to the game.
In other forms of cricket, if a player gets injured or becomes ill during a
match, a substitute is allowed to field instead of him; though he cannot bowl,
bat, or act as a captain or wicket-keeper. Here the substitute is a temporary
role and leaves the field once the injured player is fit to return.
Test cricket is 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 15 March 1877 and had a timeless format
with four balls per over. It ended on 19 March 1877 with Australia
winning by 45 runs.
Test Cricket Series between England and Australia is called The
Ashes, with the trophy being a tiny fragile urn, reputed to hold the
ashes of a bail or cricket ball used during the second test series
between the two countries, which was presented to the English
Cricket Captain, Ivo Bligh, by a group of Melbourne women, following
the Test Series win by the England Cricket Team, during the England
Cricket Team's Tour of Australia in 1882/83.
Since then, over 1,700 test matches have been played and the number
of test playing nations has increased to ten with Bangladesh, the
most recent nation elevated to test status, making its debut in
2000. Test matches are two innings games that are nowadays played
over five days.
Also known as limited overs or
instant cricket, were introduced in English domestic cricket in
the 1960s due to the growing demands for a shorter and more dramatic
form of cricket to stem the decline in attendances. The idea was
taken up in the international arena in 1971, during an England team
tour of Australia, when a Test match was rained off, and the one-day
game has since swollen to become a crowd-pleaser and
TV-audience-generator accross the globe. The inaugural World Cup in
1975 did much to hasten this. The abbreviations ODI or
sometimes LOI (for Limited Overs International) are used for
international matches of this type. In one-day cricket, each team
bats for only one innings, and it is limited to a number of overs,
usually 50 in international matches. Despite its name, a one-day
match may go into a second day if play is interrupted by rain. Day
and night matches are also played which extend into the night.
Innovations such as a coloured clothing, frequent tournaments and
result oriented games often resulting in nail biting finishes has
seen ODI cricket gain many supporters. Strategies such as quick
scoring, gravity-defying fielding and accurate bowling make this
form more invigorating as compared to the Test matches.
first-class match is a high-level international or domestic match
that takes place over at least three days on natural (as opposed to
artificial) turf. The status of a match depends on the status of the
teams contesting it. All test-playing nations are allowed to play
first-class matches, as are their regional, state, provincial or
county teams. Matches of Kenya, one of the foremost non-test-playing
nations, with other first class teams are adjudged first class, but
its domestic matches are not. Generally speaking, a match can be
considered first-class only if both teams have first-class status.
Thus, a match between two test nations, between two domestic teams
in full members of the ICC (except Kenya), or between a test nation
and another test nation's domestic team, may be considered first
class. A test match is also considered to be a first-class match,
but one-day matches are not. First-class cricket is conventionally
treated as having started in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic
Wars, though more recently this has been extended to 1801.
The game of cricket has also spawned a set of matches with modified
rules to attract more fans. The 'Twenty20' rule can be an example of
cricket rule modification, since this particular modification
enforces a 20 overs per inning, which makes the game rather shorter,
to maximise the attention of the fans. These matches are not
recognised by the ICC as official matches. For younger players,
other versions have been created as "two-day" matches. Other
variants of the sport exist and are played in areas as diverse as on
sandy beaches or on ice.
ICC member nations. Orange are test playing nations; green are the
associate member nations; and purple are the affiliate member
International Cricket Council (ICC) is the international governing
body for cricket. It is headquartered in London and includes
representatives of each of the ten test-playing nations, as well as
an elected panel representing non-test-playing nations.
nation has a national cricket board which regulates cricket matches
played in their country. The cricket board also selects the national
squad and organises home and away tours for the national team.
Nations playing cricket are separated into three tiers depending on
the level of cricket infrastructure in that country. At the highest
level are the Test-playing nations. They qualify automatically for
the quadrennial World Cup matches. A rung lower are the Associate
Member nations. The lowermost rung consists of the Affiliate Member