Cricket for Dummies

HOWZAT: The aim of the game is to bowl out the batsman

Have trouble understanding cricket stories because you don’t know the rules? You’re not alone. Don’t worry, JCNN is here to explain this English sport.

HOWZAT: The aim of the game is to bowl out the batsman

By Stine Pjaaten

As an international student, I struggle with understanding the rules of popular Australian sports.

Rugby, netball, cricket  ̶  none of them make sense to me. The Under-19 Cricket World Cup grand final finished last  Sunday, with India emerging the winner. I still didn’t understand the game after reading the newspapers, so I decided to learn the rules and make the next cricket game I watch much more interesting. I hope this will help other sport-loving international students understand Aussie sport, too.

The Basics

Two teams play a game of cricket, with 11 members on each team. To play, they use a small leather ball and a wooden bat with one flat side. They play on a grassy oval-shaped field with a rectangular strip of hard ground in the middle, called the pitch. This is where the action happens.

The match is divided into two or four rounds, called innings. The teams take turns as the scoring team or the opposing team after each innings. The scoring team is called the batting team, and the opposing team is called the fielding team. The fielding team has 11 players on the field during the innings, but only two members, or batsmen, from the batting team take the field.

The Game

The batsmen from the batting team have a tricky task – to hit the ball, score runs and avoid getting bowled out or stumped. At the start of the innings, two batsmen stand at opposite ends of the pitch, equipped with a bat. The 11 players from the fielding team spread out across the oval, ready to catch the ball hit by the batsman.

One player from the fielding team, called the bowler, runs from one side of the pitch towards a batsmen to bowl the ball. This is an over-the-shoulder throw unique to cricket. Behind each batsman there is a wicket, and this is the bowler’s target. If the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the wicket, the batsman is bowled out and must leave the field for another batsman to take his place. If the ball is caught by the fielding team before it hits the ground, the batsman is also bowled out.

The batsman may also be put out by the wicket-keeper  if  the batsman is out of his ground (because he has moved down the pitch beyond the popping crease, usually in an attempt to hit the ball) or if he or she (yes, women play cricket, too) does not attempt a run.

Point Scoring

If the batsman manages to strike the ball, and it hits the ground before being caught, the batsmen can try to score some points, called runs. To score runs, they must run to the opposite side of the pitch after hitting the ball, grounding their bat behind the crease. When both men succeed in crossing the pitch and reaching each other’s crease, they earn one run. But, if the fielding team retrieves the ball and hits the wicket before either or both batsmen reach the opposite crease, or while they are running back to their own, the batsman will be dismissed. Each length of the pitch run by a batsman earns them one run.

If the batsman hits the bowled ball over the field boundary without the ball touching the ground, the batting team scores six runs. This is called hitting it for six in Aussie. If the ball touches the ground and then rolls outside the boundary, the batting team scores four runs. When the batsmen have finished attempting their runs, the bowler on the fielding team bowls again. When the bowler has thrown the ball six times, he switches with another bowler from the fielding team. This set of six bowls is called an over. The new bowler aims for the wicket on the other side of the pitch.

When 10 out of 11 players on the batting team are bowled out, or when a set number of overs are played, the inning is complete. I know, it’s confusing, but you’ll get the hang of it.

The match is over when one team has gained more points than it is possible for the other team to gain.