Cricket (sports)

From New World Encyclopedia

Bowler Shaun Pollock bowls to batsman Michael Hussey. The paler strip is the cricket pitch. The two sets of three wooden stumps on the pitch are the wickets. The two white lines are the creases.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball sport contested by two teams, usually of 11 players each. A cricket match is played on a grass field, roughly oval in shape, at the center of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards (20.12 m) long, called a cricket pitch. At each end of the pitch is a construction of three parallel wooden stakes (known as stumps) driven vertically into the ground, with two small crosspieces (known as bails) laid across the top of them. This wooden structure is called a wicket. Cricket has drawn many comparisons to the American pastime of baseball, with both playing with innings, a bat and ball. While a home run is the best hit in baseball, the "sixer" in cricket gives six runs on one hit.

Cricket has been an established team sport for hundreds of years. It originated in its modern form in England and is most popular in the present and former members of the Commonwealth. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world.[1] More than a hundred cricket-playing nations are recognized by the International Cricket Council.[2] In the countries of South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, cricket is the most popular sport. It is also a major sport in England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, which are collectively known in cricketing parlance as the West Indies. There are also well-established amateur club competitions in countries as diverse as the Netherlands, Kenya, Nepal and Argentina, among others.

The sport is full of passionate followers, which has occasionally given rise to diplomatic outrage, the most notorious being the Basil D'Oliveira affair which led to the banning of South Africa from sporting events. Other examples include the Bodyline series, played between England and Australia in the early 1930s, and the underarm bowling incident 1981 involving Australia and New Zealand.

A Test match between South Africa and England in January 2005. The men wearing black trousers on the far right are the umpires. Test cricket, first-class cricket and club cricket are played in traditional white uniforms and with red cricket balls, while professional One-day cricket is usually played in colored uniforms and with white balls.
A One-Day International match at The Melbourne Cricket Ground between Australia and India. The batsmen are wearing yellow, while the fielding team is wearing blue.
A traditional cricket ball. The white stitching is known as the seam.
As one-day games are often played under floodlights, a white ball is used to aid visibility.
A modern Cricket bat (back view)

Nature of the game

The bowler, a player from the fielding team, hurls a hard, fist-sized, cork-centered, leather-covered cricket ball from the vicinity of one wicket towards the other. The ball usually bounces once before reaching the batsman, a player from the opposing team. In defense of the wicket, the batsman plays the ball with a wooden cricket bat. Meanwhile, the other members of the bowler's team stand in various fielding positions, prepared to retrieve the ball in an effort to stop the batsman from scoring, and possibly to get him or her out. The batsman, if he or she does not get out (for example if the bowled ball hits the wicket, or if a fielder catches the ball off the bat before it bounces), may run between the wickets, exchanging ends with a second batsman (the non-striker), who has been waiting near the bowler's wicket. Each completed exchange of ends scores one run, and the match is won by the team that scores more runs.

Laws of cricket

Forty-two different laws make up the game of cricket, thanks to the Marylebone Cricket Club. Teams may agree to alter some of the rules for particular games. Other rules supplement the main laws and change them to deal with different circumstances. In particular, there are a number of modifications to the playing structure and fielding position rules that apply to one inning games that are restricted to a set number of fair deliveries.

Players and officials


A team consists of eleven players. Depending on his or her primary skills, a player may be classified as a specialist batsman or bowler. A balanced team usually has five or six specialist batsmen and four or five specialist bowlers. Teams nearly always include a specialist wicket-keeper because of the importance of this fielding position. Of late, the role of specialist fielder has also become important in a team. Each team is headed by a Captain who is responsible for making tactical decisions such as determining the batting order, the placement of fielders and the rotation of bowlers.

A player who excels in both batting and bowling is known as an all-rounder. One who excels as a batsman and wicket-keeper is known as a wicket-keeper/batsman, sometimes regarded as a type of all-rounder. True all-rounders are rare and valuable players; most players focus on either their batting or their bowling.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground during the 1992 Cricket World Cup.


The umpire structure is very much like that of Major League Baseball. Two on-field umpires preside over a match. One umpire (the bowler's umpire) will stand behind the wicket at the end from which the ball is bowled, and have the final call on most decisions. The other (the square leg umpire) will stand near the fielding position called square leg, which offers a side view of the batsman, and assist on decisions for which he or she has a better view. In some professional matches, they may refer a decision to an off-field third umpire, who has the assistance of television replays. In international matches an off-field match referee ensures that play is within the laws of cricket and the spirit of the game.


Two scorers are appointed; most often one is provided by each team. The laws of cricket specify that the official scorers are to record all runs scored, wickets taken and (where appropriate) overs bowled. They are to acknowledge signals from the umpires, and to check the accuracy of the score regularly both with each other and, at playing intervals, with the umpires. In practice scorers also keep track of other matters, such as bowlers' analyses, the rate at which the teams bowl their overs, and team statistics such as averages and records. In international and national cricket competitions, the media often require notification of records and statistics. As a result, unofficial scorers often keep a tally for broadcast commentators and newspaper journalists. The official scorers occasionally make mistakes, but unlike umpires' mistakes these can be corrected after the event.

The playing field

A standard cricket ground.

The cricket field consists of a large circular patch of ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter usually varies between 450 feet (137 m) and 500 feet (150 m). On most grounds, a rope marks the perimeter of the field and is known as the boundary.

The pitch

A wicket consists of three stumps that are hammered into the ground, and topped with two bails.
A perspective view of the cricket pitch from the bowler's end.

Most of the action takes place in the center of this ground, on a rectangular clay strip usually with short grass called the pitch. The pitch measures 10 × 66 feet (3.05 × 20.12 m).

At each end of the pitch three upright wooden stakes, called the stump, are hammered into the ground. Two wooden crosspieces, known as the bails, sit in grooves atop the stumps, linking each to its neighbor. Each set of three stumps and two bails is collectively known as a wicket (pictured above). One end of the pitch is designated the batting end where the batsman stands and the other is designated the bowling end where the bowler runs in to bowl. The area of the field on the side of the line joining the wickets where the batsman holds his bat (the right-hand side for a right-handed batsman, the left for a left-hander) is known as the off side, the other as the leg side or on side.

Lines drawn or painted on the pitch are known as creases. Creases are used to adjudicate the dismissals of batsmen and to determine whether a delivery is legal.

The nature of the pitch

Pitches vary in consistency, and thus in the amount of bounce, spin, and seam movement available to the bowler. Hard pitches are usually good to bat on because of high but even bounce. Dry pitches tend to deteriorate for batting as cracks often appear, and when this happens spinners can play a major role. Damp pitches, or pitches covered in grass (termed "green" pitches), allow good fast bowlers to extract extra bounce and seam movement. Such pitches tend to offer help to fast bowlers throughout the match, but become better for batting as the game goes on.

Parts of the field

For a one-innings match played over a set number of fair deliveries, there are two additional field markings. A painted oval is made by drawing a semicircle of 30 yards (27.4 m) radius from the center of each wicket with respect to the breadth of the pitch and joining them with lines parallel, 30 yards (27.4 m) to the length of the pitch. This line, commonly known as the circle, divides the field into an infield and outfield. Two circles of radius 15 yards (13.7 m), centered on each wicket and often marked by dots, define the close-infield. The infield, outfield, and the close-infield are used to enforce fielding restrictions.

Placements of players

The standard fielding positions in cricket for a right-handed batsman. The spots are only indicative. Only nine fielders are available in addition to the bowler and wicket-keeper, so there are always many unprotected areas.

The team batting always has two batsmen on the field. One batsman, known as the striker, faces and plays the balls bowled by the bowler. His or her partner stands at the bowling end and is known as the non-striker.

The fielding team has all eleven of its players on the ground, and at any particular time, one of these will be the bowler. The player designated as bowler must change after every over. The wicket-keeper, who generally acts in that role for the whole innings, stands or crouches behind the wicket at the batting end. The captain of the fielding team spreads his or her remaining nine players—the fielders—around the ground to cover most of the area. Their placement may vary dramatically depending on strategy.

Match structure

The toss

The two opposing captains engage in a coin flip before the match to determine which side will bat or bowl first. The captain's decision will be based on whether the team's bowlers are likely to gain immediate advantage from the pitch and weather conditions (these can vary significantly), or whether it is more likely that the pitch will deteriorate and make batting more difficult later in the game. Hence, the coin flip at the beginning of the game is extremely instrumental in determining the outcome of the game.


Each innings is divided into overs, each consisting of six consecutive legal deliveries bowled by the same bowler. After completing an over, the bowler must take up a fielding position and let another player take over the bowling.

After every over, the batting and bowling ends are swapped, and the field positions are adjusted. The umpires swap so the umpire at the bowler's end moves to square leg, and the umpire at square leg moves to the new bowler's end.

End of an innings

An innings is completed if:

  • Ten out of eleven batsmen are 'out' (dismissed)–the team is said to be all out.
  • The team has only one batsman left who can bat (the others being incapacitated either through injury, illness or absence)–again, the team is said to be all out.
  • The team batting last reaches the score required to win the match.
  • The predetermined number of overs are bowled (in a one-day match only, usually 50 overs).
  • A captain declares his team's innings closed (this does not apply to one-day limited over matches).

Playing time

Typically, two-innings matches are played over three to five days with at least six hours of cricket played each day. One-innings matches are usually played over one day for six hours or more. There are formal intervals on each day for lunch and tea, and shorter breaks for drinks, where necessary. There is also a short interval between innings.

The game is only played in dry weather. Additionally, because in professional cricket it is common for balls to be bowled at over 90 miles per hour, the game must be played in daylight good enough for a batsman to be able to see the ball. Play is therefore halted during rain (but not usually drizzle) and when there is bad light. Some one-day games are now played under floodlights but, apart from a few experimental games in Australia, floodlights are not used in longer games. Professional cricket is usually played outdoors. These requirements mean that in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe the game is usually played in the summer. In the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh games are played in the winter. In these countries the hurricane and monsoon season coincides with summer.

Batting and scoring runs


Ricky Ponting of Australia batting.

Batsmen strike the ball from the batting crease, with the flat surface of a wooden cricket bat. If the batsman hits the ball with his bat, it is called a shot (or stroke). If the ball brushes the side of the bat it is called an edge or snick. Shots are named according to the style of swing and the direction aimed. As part of the team's strategy, the player may bat defensively, blocking the ball downwards, or aggressively, hitting the ball hard to empty spaces in order to score runs. There is no requirement to run if the ball is struck. The batsman also automatically scores runs if he manages to hit the ball to the boundary.

Batsmen come in to bat in a batting order, decided by the team captain. The first two positions, the "openers," face the most hostile bowling, from fast bowlers at their freshest and with a new ball. After that, the team typically bats in descending order of batting skill; the first five or six batsmen are usually the best in the team. Then follow the all-rounders, bowlers or wicket-keepers who can bat decently, and finally the pure bowlers who rarely score well. This order may be changed at any time during the course of the game.

Run scoring

The directions in which a right-handed batsman intends to send the ball when playing various cricketing shots.

To score a run, a striker must run to the opposite end of the pitch, while his non-striking partner runs to his end. To register a run, both runners must touch the ground behind the popping crease with either their bats or their bodies (the batsmen carry their bats as they run). If the striker hits the ball well enough, the batsmen may double back to score two or more runs. This is known as running between wickets. However, no rule requires the batsman to run upon striking the ball. The decision to attempt a run is made by the batsman who has the better view of the ball's position and is communicated by a system of calls: "yes," "no" or "wait." If the batsmen score an odd number of runs, then they will have swapped ends and their roles as striker and non-striker will be reversed for the next ball, unless the most recent ball marks the end of an over.

If a fielder knocks the bails off the stumps with the ball while no part of the batsman is grounded behind the popping crease, the nearer batsman is run out. (For this purpose, "batsman" includes the bat so long as he is holding it.)

If the ball reaches the boundary, then runs are automatically scored. A ball that goes over the boundary on the full (without touching the ground) automatically scores six runs; a ball that reaches the boundary after having touched the ground automatically scores four runs. These are scored instead of any runs the batsmen may have already run, and they return to the ends at which they started, except in the unlikely event that the batsmen have already scored more runs than they would receive for the boundary.


Every run scored by the batsmen contributes to the team's total. A team's total also includes a number of runs which are unaccredited to any batsmen. These runs are known as extras, apart from in Australia where they are also called sundries. Extras consist of byes, leg byes, no balls, wides and penalty runs. Byes and leg byes can be scored if the batsman misses making contact with bat and ball; while no-balls and wides are types of fouls committed by the bowler. For serious infractions such as tampering with the ball, deliberate time-wasting, and damaging the pitch, the umpires may award penalty extras to the opposition: in each case five runs. Five penalty runs are also awarded if a fielder uses anything other than his body to field the ball, or if the ball hits an object—a protective helmet, for example—left on the field by the fielding team. A team need not be batting in order to receive penalty extras.

Bowling and dismissals


Andrew Flintoff of England bowling.
A typical bowling action.

A bowler delivers the ball toward the batsmen, using what is known as a bowling action: the elbow may be held at any angle and may bend further, but may not straighten out during the action. If the elbow straightens, it is an illegal throw and the delivery is called a no-ball. Under new cricketing law, after consultation with health experts, the bowler is allowed to straighten his arm 15 degrees or less; if the bowler straightens his arm more than 15 degrees it is called a "no ball."

Usually, the bowler pitches the ball so that it bounces before reaching the batsman. Some part of the bowler's front foot in the delivery stride (that is, the stride when the ball is released) must be behind the popping crease to avoid a no-ball (although the bowler's front foot does not have to be grounded). The ball must also be delivered so it is within the batsman's reach; otherwise it is termed a wide. A wide cannot be called if the batsman hits the ball. A wide or no-ball results in an extra run being added to the batting team's score and an extra ball being bowled in the over.

The bowler's primary goal is to take wickets; that is, to get a batsman out or dismissed. When a bowler succeeds in dismissing the more accomplished batsmen on the opposing team he reduces the opportunity for the batting team to score, as it exposes the less skillful non-specialist batsmen. The bowler's secondary task is to limit the numbers of runs scored. There are two main kinds of bowlers: fast bowlers, who attempt to bowl the ball too quickly for the batsman to properly react, and spin bowlers who bowl slower deliveries that bounce and curve in unpredictable ways.

Dismissal of a batsman

There are ten ways in which a batsman may be dismissed. Once a batsman is dismissed, he leaves the field to be replaced by another batsman. When the tenth batsman is out, and only one batsman remains undismissed, the side is "all out" and the innings is over.

Many modes of dismissal require the wicket to be "put down." The wicket is put down if a bail is dislodged from the top of the stumps; or if a stump is struck out of the ground either by the ball or by a fielder using the hand in which the ball is being held. Of the following ten modes of dismissal, the first six are common, while the last four are technicalities that rarely occur. The ten modes are:

  • Caught—When a fielder catches the ball before it bounces and after the batsman has struck it with the bat or it has come into contact with the batsman's glove while it is in contact with the bat handle. The bowler and catcher are both credited with the dismissal.
  • Bowled—When a delivered ball hits the stumps at the batsman's end, and dislodges one or both of the bails. This happens regardless of whether the batsman has edged the ball onto the stumps or not. The bowler is credited with the dismissal.
  • Leg before wicket (lbw)—When a delivered ball misses the bat and strikes the batsman's leg, pad or body, and the umpire judges that the ball would otherwise have struck the stumps. The laws of cricket stipulate certain exceptions. For instance, a delivery pitching outside the line of leg stump should not result in an lbw dismissal, while a delivery hitting the batsman outside the line of the off stump should result in an lbw dismissal only if the batsman makes no attempt to play the ball with the bat. The bowler is credited with the dismissal.
  1. Run out—When a fielder, bowler or wicket-keeper removes one or both of the bails with the ball by hitting the stumps while a batsman is still running between the two ends. The ball can either hit the stumps directly or the fielder's hand with the ball inside it can be used to dislodge the bails. Such a dismissal is not officially credited to any player, although the identities of the fielder or fielders involved are often noted in brackets on the scorecard.
  2. Stump (cricket)Manner of dismissing a batsman—When the batsman leaves his crease in playing a delivery, voluntarily or involuntarily, but the ball goes to the wicket-keeper who uses it to remove one or both of the bails through hitting the bail(s) or the wicket before the batsman has remade his ground. The bowler and wicket-keeper are both credited. This generally requires the keeper to be standing within arm's length of the wicket, which is done mainly to spin bowling.
  3. Hit wicket—When the batsman accidentally knocks the stumps with either the body or the bat, causing one or both of the bails to be dislodged, either in playing a shot or in taking off for the first run. The bowler is credited with the dismissal.
  4. Handled the ball—When the batsman deliberately handles the ball without the permission of the fielding team. No player is credited with the dismissal.
  5. Hit the ball twice—When the batsman deliberately strikes the ball a second time, except for the sole purpose of guarding his wicket. No player is credited with the dismissal.
  6. Obstructing the field—When a batsman deliberately hinders a fielder attempting to field the ball. No player is credited with the dismissal.
  7. Timed out—When a new batsman takes more than three minutes to take his position in the field to replace a dismissed batsman (If the delay is protracted, the umpires may cause the match to be forfeited). This rule prevents the batting team using time limits of the game to unfair advantage. No player is credited with the dismissal.

Additionally, a batsman may leave the field without being dismissed. For instance, if he is injured or taken ill, this is known as retired hurt or retired ill. The batsman is not out; he may return to bat later in the same innings if sufficiently recovered. Also, an unimpaired batsman may retire, in which case he is treated as being dismissed retired out; no player is credited with the dismissal.

Some of these modes of dismissal can occur without the bowler bowling a delivery. The batsman who is not on strike may be run out by the bowler if he leaves his crease before the bowler bowls, and a batsman can be out obstructing the field or retired out at any time. Timed out is, by its nature, a dismissal without a delivery. With all other modes of dismissal, only one batsman can be dismissed per ball bowled.

Fielding and wicket-keeping

Fielders assist the bowlers in preventing runs, either by taking catches to dismiss a batsman, or by intercepting the ball and returning it, possibly running out the batsman. The wicket-keeper is the only fielder permitted to wear gloves. A fielder may stop the ball with any part of his body.

A pair of wicket-keeping gloves.

The wicket-keeper is a specialist fielder who stands behind the batsman's wicket throughout the innings. His primary job is to gather deliveries that the batsman fails to hit, to prevent them running into the outfield, which would enable batsmen to score byes. To this end, he wears special gloves and pads to cover his lower legs. Owing to his position directly behind the striker, the wicket-keeper has a good chance of getting a batsman out caught off a fine edge from the bat; thicker edges are typically handled by the "slips" fieldsmen. The wicket-keeper is also the only person who can get a batsman out stumped.

Other roles


The captain's acumen in deciding the strategy is sometimes crucial to the team's success. The captain makes a number of important decisions, including setting fielding positions, alternating the bowlers and taking the toss. Before the start of play the captains of the opposing teams meet for the coin toss; the winner of the toss decides which team will bat first. This decision, made in consideration of pitch conditions, the weather and the relative bowling and batting abilities of the two sides, can have an enormous impact on the course of play. In One-Day Internationals the captain also decides when to make use of Powerplay 2 and 3.

A runner

In the event of a batsman being fit to bat but too injured to run, the umpires and the fielding captain may allow another member of the batting side to be a runner. If possible, the runner must already have batted. The runner's only task is to run between the wickets instead of the injured batsman. The runner is required to wear and carry exactly the same equipment as the incapacitated batsman.


In all forms of cricket, if a player gets injured or becomes ill during a match, a substitute is allowed to field in his place, though he cannot bowl, bat, or act as a captain or wicket-keeper. Here the substitute is a temporary role and leaves the field once the injured player is fit to return.

For a period from July 2005, the ICC trialled the concept of a Super Sub in One-Day International (ODI) cricket and some other limited-overs competitions. A single full substitution was allowed, with the replaced player not allowed to return to the game. It was discontinued from March 2006.


If the team that bats last has all of its batsmen dismissed before it can reach the run total of the opposing team, it is said to have lost by (n) runs (where (n) is the difference between the two run totals). If however, the team that bats last exceeds the opposing team's run total before its batsmen are dismissed, it is said to have won by (n) wickets, where (n) is the difference between the number of wickets conceded and 10.

If, in a two-innings-a-side match, one team's combined first and second innings total fails to reach its opponent's first innings total, there is no need for the opposing team to bat again and it is said to have won by an innings and (n) runs, where (n) is the difference between the two teams' totals.

If all the batsmen of the team batting last are dismissed with the scores exactly equal then the match is a tie; ties are very rare in matches of two innings a side. In the traditional form of the game, if the time allotted for the match expires before either side can win, then the game is a draw.

If the match has only a single innings per side, then a maximum number of deliveries for each innings is often imposed. Such a match is called a limited overs or one-day match, and the side scoring more runs wins regardless of the number of wickets lost, so that a draw cannot occur. If this kind of match is temporarily interrupted by bad weather, then a complex mathematical formula known as the Duckworth-Lewis method is often used to recalculate a new target score. A one-day match can be declared a No-Result if fewer than a previously agreed number of overs have been bowled by either team, in circumstances that make normal resumption of play impossibl–for example, an extended period of bad weather.


A basic form of cricket can be traced back to the thirteenth century, but it may have existed even earlier than that. The game seems to have originated among children of the farming and metalworking communities in the Weald between Kent and Sussex. Written evidence exists of a game known as creag being played by Prince Edward, the son of Edward I (Longshanks), at Newenden, Kent in 1300.

In 1598, a court case referred to a sport called kreckett being played at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford around 1550. The Oxford English Dictionary gives this as the first recorded instance of cricket in the English language.

A number of words are thought to be possible sources for the term cricket. The name may derive from a term for the cricket bat: old French criquet (meaning a kind of club) or Flemish krick(e) (meaning a stick) or in Old English crycc (meaning a crutch or staff). (The latter is problematic, since Old English 'cc' was palatal in pronunciation in the south and the west midlands, roughly ch, which is how crycc leads to crych and thence crutch; the 'k' sound would be possible in the north, however.) Alternatively, the French criquet apparently derives from the Flemish word krickstoel, which is a long low stool on which one kneels in church and which resembles the long low wicket with two stumps used in early cricket.

Cricket as a gambling sport

During the seventeenth century, numerous references indicate the growth of cricket in the south-east of England. By the end of the century, it had become an organized activity being played for high stakes and it is likely that the first professionals appeared in that period. We know that a great cricket match with 11 players a side was played for high stakes in Sussex in 1697 and this is the earliest reference we have to cricket in terms of such importance. In fact, the game had upwards of 50 guineas on the line, no small sum during that time. Betting played a major part in that development and rich patrons began forming their own "select XIs." Cricket was prominent in London as early as 1707 and large crowds flocked to matches on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury.

Cricket on the rise

"The first instance of a match to be played between counties in England is recorded to be on 29th June in the year 1709. This match was played between Surrey and Kent at Dartford Brent."[3] The game underwent major development in the eighteenth century and had become the national sport of England by the end of the century. An ideal example was the advent of the player system, very much like the way it is in major sports in modern times. Two types of players formed the union of players: those who whose loyalties were restricted to the Lord, and those who were free to play for whomever they wanted to. The Hambledon Club was founded in the 1760s but its team was already playing first-class matches in 1756. For the next 20 years until the formation of MCC and the opening of Lord's in 1787, Hambledon was the game's greatest club and its focal point. MCC quickly became the sport's premier club and the custodian of the Laws of Cricket.

The nineteenth century saw underarm bowling replaced by first roundarm bowling and then overarm bowling. Both developments were accompanied by major controversy. The concept of a "champion county" arose in the 1820s and then, starting with Sussex CCC in 1839, county clubs were founded and these ultimately formed a County Championship.

The first Australian cricket team to tour England was made of indigenous Australian players (1867), a significant event in the history of indigenous Australians as well as in that of cricket

In 1859, a team of English players went on the first overseas tour (to North America) and 18 years later another England team took part in the first-ever Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Australia.

The legendary W G Grace started his long career in 1864. It can fairly be said that he revolutionized the sport and did much to ensure its massive popularity.

The last two decades before the First World War have been called the "Golden Age of Cricket." It is almost certainly a nostalgic idea based on the sense of loss brought about by the war, but even so the period did produce some great players and memorable matches, especially as organized competition at county and Test level developed.

The inter-war years were dominated by one player—Don Bradman—statistically the greatest batsman of all time. It was the determination of the England team to overcome his incredible skill that brought about the infamous Bodyline series in 1932/1933.

Cricket entered an epochal era in 1963, when English counties modified the rules to provide a variant match form that produced a certain result–games with a restricted number of overs per side. This gained widespread popularity and resulted in the birth of One-Day International (ODI) matches in 1971. The governing International Cricket Council quickly adopted the new form and held the first ODI Cricket World Cup in 1975. Since then, ODI matches have gained mass spectatorship, at the expense of the longer form of the game and to the consternation of fans who prefer the longer form of the game.

As of the early 2000s, however, the longer form of cricket is experiencing a growing resurgence in popularity but a new limited overs phenomenon, Twenty20, has made an immediate impact.

Forms of cricket

There are many different types and grades of cricket; those played professionally at an international level are Test cricket, One-Day International cricket and Twenty20 cricket.

Test cricket

Test cricket is a form of international cricket started in 1877 during the 1876/1877 English cricket team's tour of Australia. The first Test match began on March 15, 1877, and had a timeless format with four balls per over. It ended on March 19, 1877, with Australia winning by 45 runs. The Test cricket series between England and Australia is called The Ashes. Since then, over 1,800 Test matches have been played and the number of Test playing nations has increased to ten with Bangladesh, the most recent nation elevated to Test status, making its debut in 2000. Test matches are two innings per side over a period of up to a maximum of five days, although matches are sometimes completed with a day or even two to spare. In the past, Tests have been played over three, four, or six days, and some have been "Timeless"–played to a finish. Tests that are not finished within the allotted time are drawn.

One-day cricket

Limited overs matches, also known as one day cricket or instant cricket, were introduced in the English domestic season of 1963 in response to demands for a shorter and more dramatic form of cricket. One-day, single-innings, matches often took place before this, but the innovation was the limiting of each side's innings to an agreed number of overs (usually 50). The idea was taken up in the international arena in 1971, during England's tour of Australia, when a match was played on the scheduled fifth day of the rained-off third Test. The one-day game has since become a crowd-pleaser and TV-audience-generator across the globe, hastened in part by the success of the inaugural World Cup in 1975. The abbreviations ODI (One-Day International) or sometimes LOI (Limited Overs International) are used for international matches of this type. Innovations have included the introduction of colored clothing, distinct tournaments, and "day-night" matches (where play extends into the night under floodlights); together with frequent nail-biting finishes and the impossibility of either side opting to play for a draw, these have seen ODI cricket gain many supporters.

Twenty20 Cricket

A view of an international Twenty20 match (between England and Sri Lanka) at the Rose Bowl stadium. Twenty20 matches usually start in the evening and last around two-and-a-half to three hours.

Twenty20 Cricket was first played in English domestic cricket in 2003 to popularize first-class cricket and attract more spectators. It has since spread to many other countries. A "Twenty20 Game" consists of 20 overs for each side, a free-hit after a no-ball is bowled, short boundaries, batting-friendly pitches, and other rules designed to attract crowds that would not be willing to sit through the slower-paced one-day games or test matches. The first men's Twenty20 international was between Australia and New Zealand in 2005, the first women's Twenty20 international having been between England and New Zealand in 2004. The ICC announced after its Executive Board meeting in March 2006 that beginning from 2007 to 2015, the Twenty20 World Championship would be held every two years.

First-class matches

A first-class match is generally defined as a high-level international or domestic match that takes place over at least three days on natural (as opposed to artificial) turf. First-class games are two innings per side. Like Test matches, if the game is not completed over the allotted time then it is drawn. Games where the teams have only one innings each are not first-class (including one-day internationals).

A two-innings match of at least three days duration is granted first-class status only if both teams have first-class status. For example, Test matches, other games between two Test nations, games between two domestic teams deemed first-class in countries holding full membership of the ICC, and games between a Test nation's national side (or a team drawn from a national touring squad) and a first-class domestic team from a Test nation, are usually deemed to be first class. Matches between Kenya, one of the leading associate members of the ICC, and another team adjudged first-class are usually granted first-class status, but domestic matches in Kenya are not.

Among cricket statisticians, first class cricket is variously deemed to have started in 1660, 1772, 1801, 1815 or 1864. The controversy remains unresolved. The limited overs equivalent of first-class status is list A status.

Other forms of cricket

Children playing cricket on a makeshift pitch in a park. It is common in many countries for people to play cricket on such pitches and makeshift grounds.

At all levels, the rules of cricket are often modified. At international or first-class levels this is usually in order to make the game more commercially attractive. More or less formal domestic, club cricket matches are usually played over one to two days, either two innings per side or one innings per side with limited overs. At lower levels the rules are often changed simply to make the game playable with limited resources, or to render it more convenient and enjoyable for the participants. Variants of the sport are played in areas as diverse as sandy beaches and ice floes. Families and teenagers play backyard cricket in suburban yards or driveways, and the teeming cities of India and Pakistan play host to countless games of 'Gully Cricket' or 'Tapeball' on their streets. Tennis balls and homemade bats are often used, and a variety of objects may serve as wickets. Sometimes the rules are also improvised; for instance it is sometimes agreed that fielders can catch the ball with one hand after one bounce and claim a wicket, or if only a few people are available then everyone may field while the players take it in turns to bat and bowl.

In Kwik cricket, the bowler does not have to wait for the batsman to be ready before a delivery, leading to a faster, more exhausting game designed to appeal to children, which is often used in English schools' physical education (PE) lessons. Another modification to increase the pace of the game is the "Tip and Run," "Tipsy Run" or "Tippy-Go" rule, in which the batter must run when the ball touches the bat, even if it the contact is unintentional or minor. This rule, seen only in impromptu games, speeds the match up by disabling the batsman's ability to block the ball. Indoor cricket is played in a netted, indoor arena.

In Samoa a form of cricket called Kilikiti is played in which hockey stick-shaped bats are used.

International structure

ICC member nations. Orange are the (highest level) Test playing nations; green are the associate member nations; and purple are the affiliate member nations.

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. More than 120 cricket-playing nations are recognized by the International Cricket Council.

Cricket is internationally governed by International Cricket Council (ICC), which is headquartered in Dubai and includes representatives from the ten Test-playing nations and an elected panel representing non-Test-playing nations.

Each nation has a national cricket board which regulates cricket matches played in its country. The cricket board also selects the national squad and organizes home and away tours for the national team.

Nations playing cricket are separated into three tiers depending on the level of cricket infrastructure in that country. At the highest level are the Test-playing nations; they qualify automatically for the quadrennial World Cup matches. Below these are the Associate Member nations. The lowest level consists of the Affiliate Member nations.

Cricket World Cup

In 1912, the cricket authorities attempted of put together a world championship. They arranged a meeting between three test-playing nations: Australia, England, and South Africa; however, the attempt was dampened by severe weather conditions. Since then, the next attempt did not come until 1975, following the success of domestic one-day competitions. The six Test-playing nations, England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, India and Pakistan were joined by Sri Lanka and East Africa in the first World Cup in England. Showered with tremendous success, the tournament repeated itself in 1979 and 1983 in England. After 1983, the tournament moved to different countries, but continued the tradition of the four-year cycle.


Tom Wills, cricketer and co-founder of Australian football

Influence on everyday life

Cricket has had a broad impact on popular culture, both in the Commonwealth of Nations and elsewhere. It has, for example, influenced the lexicon of these nations, especially the English language, with various phrases such as "that's not cricket" (that's unfair), "had a good innings" (lived a long life) and "sticky wicket". "On a sticky wicket" (aka "sticky dog" or "glue pot")[4] is a metaphor used to describe a difficult circumstance. It originated as a term for difficult batting conditions in cricket, caused by a damp and soft pitch.[5]

In the arts and popular culture

Cricket is the subject of works by noted English poets, including William Blake and Lord Byron.[6] Beyond a Boundary (1963), written by Trinidadian C. L. R. James, is often named the best book on any sport ever written.[7]

In the visual arts, notable cricket paintings include Albert Chevallier Tayler's Kent vs Lancashire at Canterbury (1907) and Russell Drysdale's The Cricketers (1948), which has been called "possibly the most famous Australian painting of the 20th century."[8] French impressionist Camille Pissarro painted cricket on a visit to England in the 1890s.[6] Francis Bacon, an avid cricket fan, captured a batsman in motion.[6] Caribbean artist Wendy Nanan's cricket images[9] are featured in a limited edition first day cover for Royal Mail's "World of Invention" stamp issue, which celebrated the London Cricket Conference 1–3 March 2007, first international workshop of its kind and part of the celebrations leading up to the 2007 Cricket World Cup.


  1. Cricket's a Major Sport in Metropolitan Area The New York Times, September 18, 1992. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  2. Modern cricket: 1700-1998 Seattle Cricket Club. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  3. History of Cricket Lisarow Ourimbah Cricket Club. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  4. Jonathon Green, Dictionary of Jargon (Routledge, 2015, ISBN 041573276X).
  5. Robert Hendrickson, World English: From Aloha to Zed (John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN‎ 0756768861).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Alastair Smart, The art of cricket: Enough to leave you stumped The Telegraph, July 20, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  7. Frank Rosengarten, Urbane Revolutionary: C. L. R. James and the Struggle for a New Society (University Press of Mississippi, 2010. ISBN 1604735376).
  8. Steve Meacham, Montmartre, with eucalypts Sydney Morning Herald, June 6, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  9. Caribbean cricket art, in the middle BBC News. Retrieved August 14, 2021.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Bradman, Don. The Art of cricket. Hodder & Stoughton, 1990. ISBN 1875892540
  • James, C. L. R. Beyond a Boundary. Duke University Press Books, 2013. ISBN 0822355639
  • Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The Laws of Cricket Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  • Rosengarten, Frank. Urbane Revolutionary: C. L. R. James and the Struggle for a New Society. University Press of Mississippi, 2010. ISBN 1604735376

External links

All links retrieved January 11, 2024.


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