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Cricket for dummies

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Jan. 8th, 2011 | 10:57 pm
mood: thirstythirsty
music: Dan Kehler - La Costa Lotta

I've never understood cricket, but I've wanted to for quite a while. Alas, no resource I came across so far actually managed to give an easily-understood *overview* of what cricket was about without getting bogged down in special terminology (only explained in a glossary decidedly not intended for novices) or details. But last night, moth_wingthane and canisrufus_uk were kind enough to explain the whole thing to me. *s*

So, for the benefit of others who might be in the same situation, here's what I gathered:

  • A cricket match features two teams; the objective of the game is to score "runs", and the team that ends up scoring the higher number of runs wins.

  • Unlike other team games like football, basketball etc., cricket is not symmetrical: at any given point, the teams are not interchangable. Rather, there is a "batting" and a "bowling" team, with the bowling team throwing balls at the batting team and the batting team, well, batting them.

  • Just like e.g. a football match is divided into two halves or an ice hockey match is divided into three periods, a cricket match consists of two innings; each inning is further divided into two halves (my terminology), so that both teams will both bat and bowl during each inning. If we assume that, without loss of generality, team A bats first, the basic sequence would be:

    1. Inning 1: team A bats, team B bowls.
    2. Inning 1: team B bats, team A bowls.
    3. Inning 2: team A bats, team B bowls.
    4. Inning 2: team B bats, team A bowls.

    The last "quarter" (my terminology) may be eschewed if team B is already winning at this point, as only the batting team can score "runs" (so if team A is not ahead at this point, they have no chance of winning anymore).

  • Since the objective of the game is to score "runs", how are runs scored? Basically, in order to score a run, the batsman (the batting team's player who happens to be batting at the given moment), after hitting the ball thrown at him by the bowling team, needs to run across the field and make it to the other side. The opposing team, naturally, will try to stop him.

  • A batsman gets stopped if the bowling team either catches his ball without it hitting the ground first, or if they otherwise manage to catch it and throw it at a construction known as a "wicket" (three poles in the ground with some smaller pieces of wood on top of them), knocking those smaller pieces down. Either of these needs to happen before the batsman actually reaches the end of the field, indicated by a line.

  • If the batsman does not make it, he's "out", and the batting team's next player comes in as a batsman. Once all the players are "out", the teams switch positions, as before, with the batting team becoming the bowling team and vice versa.

  • That said, a batsman, after batting the ball, does not HAVE to attempt a run. If he thinks that his batting wasn't so great and that he wouldn't have a chance to score a run, he can stay put, and another ball will be bowled (thrown at him).

  • The only complication to the above is that there's actually two batsmen on the field at any time, on opposite ends of the field. The second batsman is a backup (my terminology); he doesn't bat, and he has to run iff the "real" batsman (my terminology) does. If the run is successful (which requires that BOTH successfully reach the other side of the field), the two batsmen, having switched positions, will naturally reverse their roles.

There's a large amount of things not covered here, and indeed, if you read the above, you'll probably find yourself asking quite a few questions, such as "how often can the batsman decide not to run", "if only one batsman does not make it to the other side of the field, are they both out, or just the one who didn't make it", and so on; but at the very least, you'll now have a rough idea of what the game is about in principle, and what the basic mechanisms are.

For more information, check out Auntie's page on cricket (which I didn't look at yet), or explore dmmaus's explanation of cricket.

(Nota bene: I'm sure that what I wrote above is not just oversimplified but in fact outright wrong in places. If you're a cricket afficionado and notice a genuine mistake, please point it out below, but do keep in mind that this isn't supposed to be an exhaustive treatment.)

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Comments {38}

Killjoy #10

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from: lionhill
date: Jan. 8th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
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I've always wondered what cricket was about, so thanks for the elightenment!

This sport sounds wickedly complicated.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 8th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome! And it does, doesn't it? As either moth_wingthane or canisrufus_uk said yesterday, it's had centuries to become eccentric, and I think that's really spot-on. ;)

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 8th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
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Yup, we were only talking about test cricket yesterday.

Hmm, overs weren't mentioned to me yet, but then, this is just supposed to be a start, not an exhaustive explanation of all aspects of the game. That said, though, thanks! Interesting, so the field itself is symmetrical?

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archadia

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from: archadia
date: Jan. 9th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
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I remember the look on one of my cousin's faces when I said, "Cricket is like baseball, right?"

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 9th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
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*s* It is, to an extent, isn't it? Not that this would really help me, as I don't know baseball, either, but if you do, I can see how it might be a good starting point.

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packwolf lupestripe

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from: lupestripe
date: Jan. 9th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
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Generally good overview hun although there are other permutations you don't seem to have covered (such as the follow-on).

I am starting to enjoy cricket more and more with my new job as a sports journalist :)

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 9th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I know it's not complete. In fact, I think I said as much.

Thanks, though.

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wonka4500

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from: wonka4500
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
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More than I ever wanted to know about cricket and was afraid to ask!

Seriously, I'm not into sports enough to take notice of practically anything related to them lol!

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 10:38 am (UTC)
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At least when somebody yaks at you about cricket, you'll know what it's about. ;)

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Aurifer Salavor

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from: aurifer
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
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That is nothing like what I was led to believe.
It's scary how wrong cultural stereotypes can be.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 10:37 am (UTC)
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Aye, that's true. I'm curious, what were you led to believe?

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lupus londonwolf

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from: londonwolf
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 08:41 am (UTC)
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One thing I will say is that often there isn't a winner at all, especially in the two innings test match (five day) format you've described. Not only do you have to score more runs than the opponents, but you have to get all the opponents out too in a test match otherwise it's a draw - even one team has more runs than the other :)

If one team is on a run chase, as in they are batting in the last innings they have to score more than the other team to win, but if they don't they only lose if the other team gets them all out before the end of play.

It's simple, but hideously complicated at the same time - and we've not even touched on bowling styles, how different numbers of runs are scored, the different ways you can be out, field positioning and the evil LBW law (probably the most complicated rule in any sport I know).

Cricket's probably my second favourite sport and if you ever want to know more I'll be happy to tell you :)

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 10:41 am (UTC)
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LBW? Do I even want to know? ^^

Anyhow, thanks! That's all very interesting, especially the bit about having to get all your opponents out, too. I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the idea that the teams switch sides only when everyone in the batting team is out, though — wouldn't the latter mean that you'd always get all of your opponents out?

Heh, and also, what's your most favorite sport, then? :)

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lupus londonwolf

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from: londonwolf
date: Jan. 10th, 2011 10:48 am (UTC)
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LBW stands for Leg Before Wicket and is a way of getting your opponent out. It's pretty complicated so I'll just link you here for your pleasure - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leg_before_wicket

In terms of innings cricket the teams don't have to swap when the batting team is out. If the team in bat scores enough runs that they believe the other team won't match they can 'declare' and put the other team into bat. Like this:

Team A gets 350 runs all out, so team B go in. Team be get 360 runs all out, so team A go back in. Team A then score 600 runs for six wickets and decide that the lead of 590 is plenty, declare and put team B in and try to get them out for less than 590 in the remaining time. If they get them out for sub-590 then team A win. If team B manage to score more than 590 then team B win. If team B can't score enough in the time but team A also can't get everyone out then it's a draw :) There is another way of doing it called 'The Follow on' but I'll not bore you with that :)

And my favourite sport is Rugby Union :)

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