Cricket is a bat and ball game played by two teams of eleven people, on a large oval field with the action focussed on the pitch near the centre of the field. Cricket is not a sport for those short of time - a game can last from between 3 hours and 5 days.


Batting during The Ashes

Cricket is usually played in the summer. The game is somewhat weather dependent, as the play changes when the ball gets wet. "Rain stopped play" is an unfortunately common event in some locations. Bad light can also mean that play ends early.

Cricket pitch

Cricket is played outdoors on a large circular or oval field. The main part of the field is grass, mown like a lawn, in the centre of the field is the rectangular pitch, which is often mown shorter. At either end of the pitch is a set of wickets 22 yards apart - three vertical wooden sticks with two small wooden bails placed on top. Cricket is played with a leather ball, similar in size to, but much harder than a tennis ball, and a wooden bat with a flat face usually made of willow. During the match the batsman stands in front of the wicket and "defends" it as the bowler aims for it.

A cricket match has two (or sometimes four) innings. In an innings one team bats and the other team bowls (and fields). Each innings is in turn made up of a number of overs, sometimes limited in number as in effect a time limit. An over nominally has six balls (the bowler bowling (throwing) the ball). There are generally 3 formats of cricket that are played internationally; Test, One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20. Test cricket is the longest of the three, typically lasting up to 5 days, with 4 innings being played, and no limit on the number of overs per innings, meaning that the innings continues until 10 batsmen are out. In ODI, only 2 innings are played, with the number of overs capped at 50 per innings. Twenty20 is an even shorter form of ODI, which further restricts the number of overs to 20 per innings. Collectively, ODI and Twenty20 are known as limited overs cricket.

Cricket fielding positions

The team which is bowling selects one player to bowl and the others field. A special (and scary) position to field is as wicket keeper. He stands behind the wicket, wearing protective pads. The remaining nine players take up fielding positions around the field - the positions are named (using terms such as "silly mid off") and although these may seem to be random a good captain will carefully assign the positions, and move players during the play.

At the end of each over the bowler takes up a fielding position and another player becomes the bowler, but bowls from the opposite end of the pitch. A team needs to have a minimum of two bowlers. All the fielders cross over to position themselves for balls coming in the opposite direction. Unless the batsman has just scored an odd number of runs off the last ball, this also means that the batsman changes over. It might seem simpler for the batsmen to swap ends, but the approach taken is better at evening out all the playing conditions.

The team which is batting selects two players to bat at the start of their innings. One takes up a position facing the bowler, with his bat ready to hit the ball. The other stands at the other end of the pitch. If the player batting hits the ball, he may attempt a run - this is where the two batsman run the length of the pitch, swapping places. If the ball hits the batsman's wicket, then he is out and another player from his team (who has not batted) takes his place.

Cricket scoring can be complicated and so this is a simplification. The main points in a game are runs. These can be scored by running the length of the pitch, or awarded for long hits - six runs if he ball is hit over the boundary of the field without touching the ground, four runs if touches the ground on its way over the boundary. Runs are also given for bowling errors by the other side.

A batsman can technically be out (dismissed) for one of 11 causes, but in practice only 5 are common:

At the end of their innings, a team will either be all out (10 of the eleven players having been dismissed), and their score would be said to be "155 all out", or will have scored a number of runs and have some players dismissed "155 for 7" (155 runs, 7 players dismissed). This later teams result usually happens because: a) the match is for a limited number of overs, b) the team is the second to play and they have more runs than the other team scored. Cricket scores are often in hundred of runs, unless the match is a small number of overs.

A comparison of baseball and cricket fields

If the team batting first wins, that team is said to win by a certain number of runs. In other words, if Team A batted first scored 200 runs and Team B only manged to score 150 runs at the end of their innings (or the combined total of runs in both innings for test cricket), Team A is said to have won by 50 runs. On the other hand, if the team batting second wins, the team is said to win by a certain number of wickets. In other words, if Team A batted first and scored 200 runs, and Team B scored 201 runs before their innings was up, with only 1 batsman dismissed, Team B is said to have won by 9 wickets. In test cricket, where each team bats for two innings, if the team batting second scored more runs in their first innings than the team batting first did in both their innings combined, that team is said to have won by an innings and a certain number of runs. For instance, if Team B batted second and scored 300 runs in their first innings, and Team A completed their second innings and scored only 250 runs combined in both their innings, Team B is said to have won by an innings and 50 runs.

Major playing countries

A wicket with the wicketkeeper behind

Cricket is popular in countries that have been influenced by Britain, including those that were in the British Empire. However it is much more popular in England than the rest of the United Kingdom.

Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe are full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), which makes them the only nations eligible to play in Test matches. These countries are also automatically qualified to play One-day International and Twenty20 International matches.


The Australia team played its first match in 1877.

Adelaide Oval during an Ashes match with England


Bangladesh played its first international natch in 1979 and started to play test matches in 2000.


The English Cricket team represents both England and Wales.

Cricket has been played in England since the 16th century, possibly earlier. The first international game with English players was planed as a tour of France in 1789, but was abandoned due to the French revolution. The first actual tour by an England team was in 1859 to America and Canada.

County Level

County level cricket is played between Lancashire, Yorkshire , Sussex, Kent and others.


New Zealand

Cricket is first recorded as being played in New Zealand in 1832, and the first game by a New Zealand team (against New South Wales) was played in 1894. The first test match was played in 1930.


Sri Lanka

West Indies

The West Indies team represents Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, US Virgin Islands.


Other playing countries

The ICC has a taotal of 102 member countries. In addition to the 10 full members listed in the previous section, there are six affiliate or associate member teams (Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland) which are granted One Day International status. This allows them to play One day international and Twenty20 matches with full members.


Cricket was first played by British troops in 1839, but the Afghanistan Cricket Board was only formed in 1995.


Cricket is first recorded as being played in Montreal in 1785. Canada played the world's first international match against America is 1844, and this continues as an annual event.


As in Rugby football, a single team represents the whole island of Ireland. Cricket arrived in Ireland in the early nineteenth century, and the national team's first match was in 1855.


Kenya played as part of an Eat Africa team until 1989.


Cricket was first played by British troops in the early nineteenth century. The game became popular in the 1870s, and the national team first played in 1881.


Cricket was first played in Scotland in 1785. In the 1980s Scotland played in English domestic games as a "county", leaving this to join the ICC in 1994.


See also

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