A Newbie Guide on What is Cricket and How to Play?

Cricket is an outdoor game played with a bat-and-ball between two teams of eleven players on each side comprising of one captain and one vice-captain. A captain is the leader of a team and he is responsible for taking decisions regarding the game for his team on the field. Cricket is the world's second most popular game amongst spectators after football.

In a game of cricket one person hits the ball with his bat which is usually made of wood. From another team there comes a person who bowls the ball in a specific action. The person with the bat tries to hit the ball. After hitting the ball he needs to run to another end if the ball is at a distance from a fielder which is again another player of the same team from which the bowler is. If the batsman completes his run to another end he is given one run. He can go for more than one run also at a time if the fielder is not able to catch the ball till then and return to any player who is close to the stumps. The batsman can hit the ball hard and smash it over the boundary. If the ball goes directly beyond the boundary the batsman is given six runs and if it goes with one or more than one pitch before the boundary he is given four runs.

The cricket pitch is on the centre of the field which is of 22 yards with three stumps at each end, comprising of two bails on top of those three stumps. The stumps with bails are collectively called wickets. The cricket bat is made up of willow and the ball is made up of leather. The approximate weight of a cricket ball is about 163 grams. The bat is made up of willow wood, with a maximum width of 4.25 inches and a length maximum of 38 inches.  The batsman has to wear leg pads, helmet, gloves, L-guard and other equipments for protection. Both captains are called on the pitch for the toss before the game. The toss winning captain can decide whether he wants to bowl first or he wants to bat.

The bowler can bowl with a pace or spin bowling. Both these are types of bowling allowed by the rules of international cricket. However, there is no specific action mentioned in the rules it is an umpires call to allow certain action or refuse the bowler with such action. Bowler or any other player from the fielding side cannot temper the ball in any way. In case the ball is found with any doubt by the umpire, he holds the power to change it anytime during the game.

One player stands behind the wicket and the other one bowls, except for these two players, rest all players are positioned by the bowler or team captain as per a strategy to dismiss the batsman. This is called a fielding position. There are also certain rules regarding fielding arrangement by the team in certain overs which is monitored by the umpire.

There are also rule regarding the height and width of a ball once it is bowled by the bowler. In case the ball goes away from the right-hand side of a batsman with a right-hand grip it is called a wide ball and the opposite team that is the batting team is given one run. There are also rules for no-ball in terms of height which must not be above the waistline of the batsman. If the bowler balls moving one full leg out of the popping crease the ball is given as a no-ball.

The fielding side tries to prevent the ball from leaving the boundaries and not to give easy cheeky singles or doubles. The bowler tries to dismiss the batsman by aiming the ball at the stumps or by catching or by hitting the ball on the pads of the batsman.

If the bowler dismisses the batsman by aiming at stumps, then it is called a bowled wicket.

If the bowler dismisses the batsman by aiming the ball on the pads of the batsman at a position from where the ball will hit the stumps then the batsman will be declared out by the umpire and this mode of dismissal is called Leg Before Wicket out (LBW).

The batsman can also be run out by the fielders at the time of running between the wickets if the batsman does not reach to the crease before the ball.

The batsman can also be dismissed by catch. When the batsman mistimes the ball and fails to clear the boundary and if the fielder catches the ball before the ball hits to the ground then he will be considered out and the dismissal is called catch out.

If the ball touches the edge of the batsman bat and the wicket-keeper safely catches the ball before the ball touches the ground, then the batsman will be out and this dismissal is called caught behind.

A wicket-keeper always stands behind the stumps and he can wear keeping gloves, helmet and keeping pads for his work. No other fielders are allowed to wear gloves at the time of fielding.

If the bowler catches the ball on his/her own bowling, then the mode of dismissal is called caught and bowled.

The game is played under the eye of two on-field umpires, aided by a third umpire and a match referee in international cricket. An umpire is someone who has the rights or authority on the field to make valid decisions, according to the rules of cricket about events on the field.

The match referee is the representative of the International Cricket Council (ICC) at an international match. On the cricket field, the two umpires are, one umpire stands behind the stumps at the bowler's end and is responsible for giving LBW, Catch out and overstepping no-ball decisions, while the second umpire stands at square leg position and is responsible for giving run out and over height bouncer or beamer no-ball decisions.

The third umpire is also known as a TV umpire and his work is to solve the problems of two on-field umpires. The third umpire role is to answer or make the final decisions in question referred to them by players or by the two on-field umpires. If any batsman or bowler wants to challenge the decision of the on-field umpire then they will have to use their DRS. DRS stands for Decision Review System. If the batsman or bowler has opposite thoughts regarding the on-field umpire decision then they can challenge the decision to the third umpire. The third umpire will take a look at that decision with technological help and declare the final decision.

Each team has a limited number of DRS in a game. If the DRS proved to be successful for the team then they will retain their DRS but if the decision of the third umpire stands against the team who took DRS, then the team will lose their DRS.  The umpires and match referees have the responsibility to conduct the match without any cheating and by fair decisions.

The batting side scores runs and sets the target for the fielding side to chase. The main aim of the batting team is to score runs as many runs as possible to defend against the opponent whereas the fielding team aims to take wickets as early as possible and to bowl with discipline with correct line and length. If the fielding side or 2nd team chases the target in 2nd innings of the game in certain fixed overs (1 over has 6 legal deliveries. The bowler has to bowl 6 legal deliveries to finish an over.) then the team will be announced winners but if they fail to chase the target then the team who batted first or 1st team will be announced as winners.

The 1st team tries to take all 10 wickets of the 2nd team in the 2nd inning or to defend the target to win the match whereas the 2nd team will try to score more runs than the 1st team by keeping the wicket in hand to win the match. A bowler can bowl from the right hand or left hand. For a valid delivery, a bowler must be overhand by keeping his/her elbow straight. The bowler can take a run-up for bowling as per his/her comfort. A bowler can legally bowl 1 bouncer in an over in limited over format and 2 bouncers in an over in Test cricket. A bouncer is a legal short-pitched delivery by the bowler which bounces once on the surface and then reaches at the shoulder to head height of the batsman. 

The Formats

International cricket is comprised of three formats, Test cricket, One Day International (ODI) cricket and Twenty-20 cricket.

The Test Cricket is for 5 days with a maximum of 90 overs bowled per day. Both teams bat twice in test cricket and it is the oldest format of cricket.

The ODI cricket is a cricket match of 50 overs also known as limited over format. Both the teams played 50 overs each in this format.

The latest form of cricket is the Twenty-20. Both the teams have 20 overs each to bat in this format.

The Test cricket is played with Red leather Ball and after every 80 overs, it is on the fielding team whether they want to take 2 new balls or not. While the ODI cricket and T20 cricket is played with White leather Ball.

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Last Updated on: 12/09/2021