In October’s mystery mailout, Ravi visits Kolkata (Calcutta) and has quite the adventure; one thing in particular that he learns about is the sport of cricket. Ravi tells us, “it looks similar to baseball, because there is a bat and a ball, but that is about the end of the similarities!” I’ve got to tell you - Ravi isn’t wrong! Most people in the US have a fair understanding of America’s favorite pastime, baseball, but how many of us in the States would be able to jump onto a cricket field and join a match? Or maybe a better question - how many of us could turn the channel from a Major League Baseball game to a cricket match and know what was going on? Let’s follow Ravi’s example and add some new knowledge to our brains! (If you have about four hours to kill, you can watch “Lagaan”, an Indian film about a life changing bet on the game of cricket to help you understand the sport. Or you can just read this brief summary and try your best.)
Abner Doubleday is credited with inventing baseball in 1839. Cricket, however, has been referenced since 1611! By 1709 it had gained popularity and organized teams with county names and set rosters became the norm.
Each team consists of 11 players. These eleven players can change roles, although they typically specialize in one role or another. Positions include: batsmen, bowlers, fielders and wicket keepers. To put it in the most understandable of comparisons, here is a list of the American equivalents in baseball (please understand that cricket has many variations - we are just trying to learn the basics here):
Batsman = Batter
Bowlers = Pitchers
Field = The area of play. The baseball diamond.
Pitch = A 22 yrd x 10 ft section in the middle of the field where the bowler and batsman engage. Similar to the area of the field where the pitcher and batter line up in baseball.
Fielders = Members of the defense on the field. “Position players” in baseball.
Boundary Edge = Foul Lines
Test Match = 5 Day Game, similar to a series in baseball.
One Day Games = Can last up to 9 hours and has a limit on how many “overs” are allowed. This is not similar to baseball at all. Baseball games are around ⅓ of that time!
Over = 6 legal pitches by the bowler. After an “over” the “bowler” switches out with another “fielder”. (how are we doing so far?)
Bye = Stealing Home
Leg Bye= Hit By Pitch aka “Dead Ball”
Wicket = Nothing. Absolutely nothing in baseball compares with a wicket. It is a wooden structure with 3 “stumps” which are the vertical bars that make up the majority of the wicket’s structure. On top of those stumps, laying horizontally across them, are 2 wooden pieces called “bails”. The bails are supposed to be knocked off of the stumps by the batsmen.
Wicket Keepers = Comparison? I think we’re beyond those now. The players who stand behind the wickets in order to stop the balls the batsman misses or to catch the balls the batsman hits.
Crease= This defines the area a batsman and bowler can operate within. It is marked around the wickets.
Umpires = you guessed it… Umpires
Ok, I have faith in us. Let’s take our new vocabulary and see if it helps us in understanding the rules of cricket listed for us here.
Rules of Cricket (Keep those vocabulary cards close by)
- Each team consists of 11 players.
- The bowler must bowl 6 legal deliveries in order to achieve an over.
- A match must have two umpires standing at either end of the wicket. The umpires then must count the number of balls in the over, make decisions on whether the batsmen is out after an appeal, and also check that the bowler has bowled a legal delivery.
- A batsmen can be called out by either being bowled (the ball hitting their stumps), caught (fielder catches the ball without it bouncing), Leg Before Wicket (the ball hits the batsmen’s pads impeding its line into the stumps), stumped (the wicket keeper strikes the stumps with their gloves whilst the batsmen is outside of their crease with ball in hand), hit wicket (the batsmen hits their own wicket), Handled ball (the batsmen handles the cricket ball on purpose), timed out (the player fails to reach the crease within 30 seconds of the previous batsmen leaving the field), hit ball twice (batsmen hits the cricket ball twice with their bat) and obstruction (the batsmen purposely prevents the fielder from getting the ball).
- Test cricket is played over 5 days where each team has two innings (or two chances to bat).
- The scores are then cumulative and the team with the most runs after each inning is the winner.
- One Day cricket in played with 50 overs. Each team has 50 overs to bat and bowl before swapping and doing the previous discipline. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
- International games will have a further two umpires known as the third and fourth umpire. These are in place to review any decisions that the on field umpires are unable to make.
- The fielding team must have one designated wicket keeper who is the only person allowed to wear pads and gloves on the field. The wicket keeper stands behind the opposite end to the bowler to catch the ball.
So, there ya go. Easy as pie, right? Thankfully, Ravi seems to take to it with general ease, and he won’t need us to explain anything to him. Cricket is a fascinating sport that requires a lot of stamina and determination. If you’d like to learn more about the full process of the game, visit this site.
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