On…er… popular… demand, here’s a quick post on demystifying cricket.
Well, cricket, when it’s not a loud and annoying insect, is a rather simple game. Okay, I jest a tiny bit: it’s a horrifically complicated game, and needs a big ground and lots of equipment—to start with, a ball (generally a hard leather ball with a raised seam), at least two bats and two sets of stumps (protective gear is also recommended).
Cricket is played on a big ground, with a pitch in the centre that is 22 yards long. There are three sets of stumps at each end. The two teams (of eleven players each) decide who bats or bowls first by the toss of a coin. The batting team send their batsmen (some people like to say batswomen if they are women, but that sounds so awful!) out in twos. Each batsman defends one set of stumps at a time.
All eleven members of the bowling team come out and place themselves in various positions in the field. They are called the fielders. Of these, some players are bowlers, who have to bowl at the batsmen. Only one bowler can bowl at a time, and will attempt to dislodge the stumps that are protected by the batsmen. Each bowler has to deliver six balls (called an “over”) from one end of the pitch. When he (or she) finishes, a different bowler must take over and bowl from the other end. If the ball dislodges the stumps of the facing batsman or if it flies off his bat to be caught by a member of the fielding side, the batsman is out.
The on-strike batsman must face each delivery and bat it away into the gaps in the field. With the ball safely away, he and the non-striking batsman run up and down the wicket. Each time they cross over from one end of the pitch to the other, a run is made. If the ball rolls over the boundary, the batting side gets four runs. If the balls sails over the boundary without touching the ground, six runs result.
If the ball is fielded and thrown back, and the stumps are broken before a batsman makes his ground at either end, he is out, and must go back to the pavilion. The next batsman in the line-up will then come out to replace him. (There are 10 ways to get a batsman out.) And so it goes on till:
- Ten batsmen get dismissed, leaving the last man without a partner.
- The batting side are confident that they have enough runs and declare the innings closed.
- In case of a limited overs match (that, is a match where the number of overs have been pre-decided; it is generally 50 in one-day international games), the overs run out.
Each turn at batting by a team is known as an innings. If a team makes 50 runs and loses no wickets, the score is “50 for no loss”; if they have lost two wickets and made 200, it is “200 for 2”; and so on. In the simplest form of the game, the team that bats first sets a target for the fielding team, who must then overhaul it in the given number of overs.
But now comes the tricky part. Cricket an be played over a period of one to five days. In its classical form, there are no restrictions on the number of overs bowled. One teams goes bats till they are all out or till they think it is safe to declare. Then the second team bats. Then the first team has another chance to bat, leaving a consolidated total for the second team to overhaul.
For instance, imagine that England (the people who must be blamed for inventing this dastardly game that I love so much!) and Australia (the dastardly people who are better than everyone else at it!) are playing a Test match (in other words, a five-day international). Say, England bat first.
- England are bowled out for 200.
- Australia bat and make 250 for five and decide that’s enough.
- England bat and this time put on 300 for six before declaring.
- This leaves Australia to make 251 runs to win. For England to win, they will have to get all 10 wickets before Australia reach their target.
- If Australia are all out for 250, the scores are level and the game is a tie. If Australia are unable to get 250 and England unable to get 10 wickets in the time left, the game is a draw (no result; honours shared).
It may sound silly—why bat twice?—but it leaves more options open for strategizing and planning. Test cricket, which is the five-day international form so far played only by 10 countries around the world, is played this way. Traditionalists, including myself, much prefer this type of cricket. If you see international cricket being played in white clothing, you can be pretty sure it is Test cricket. If the teams are wearing garish uniforms, it’s one-day cricket.
Now, if anyone understood all that, I will give them a trophy! 😛
If not, go here. Wikipedia explains it so much better. Sigh.