Understanding Cricket

by frankbeswick

Cricket is a game played in the UK and many countries in the British Commonwealth,along with others.

I chose to explain cricket when in a comment on an article on baseball I compared my skill with a cricket bat with my complete ineptitude at base ball and received the suggestion that I explain the game of cricket. The best way to understand cricket is to watch a game alongside a knowledgeable person, for then you will know the ins and outs of it. Indeed, sport is better grasped by watching and getting an explanation as you go along. But here goes.

Image of a cricket ball courtesy of Clker-Free-Vector-Images

The basics

Take a look at the picture below. You see a batsman and behind him a wicket keeper, one of his opponents. The batsman is defending his stumps, on top of which are some small bails. The stretch of ground ahead of the batsman is known as the wicket, and there is another set of stumps at the opposite end, where the batsman's partner is standing, waiting for their joint action. There is at the end opposite the batsman a bowler, whose job is to overarm bowl [not throw] the very hard leather ball at the batsman's stumps.  If he hits the stumps and dislodges the bails he has got the batsman out, but if the batsman hits the ball, he/she, for there is women's cricket, can make a run. Both batsmen run at the same time The batsman has scored one run, but now his partner is standing to defend the  stumps. However, you can score more than one run at a time.  

Note the body armour, for the hard leather ball is dangerous. When I was at school I saw a lad in my year who had just been hit on the head by one, and the lump was huge! Some  bowlers try to intimidate the batsman by bowling at his body, and that is not a pleasant experience.

The bowler has to bowl the ball overarm, but not throw it. If he throws it, it counts as a no ball. When bowling, stepping over the white line of his crease means a no ball.  Look at the second picture below and you will see that the bowler has a white line just before her feet. This is the crease. Another bowling misdemeanour is bowling a wide, which is when the ball is sent too far to the batsman's side to be reached. It is penalized by an extra run. 

The bowlers bowl their balls in units of six, called overs. After an over a team can swap their bowler. This reminds me of the story of my very non-sporty mother. Not long wed, she was taken to a cricket match by my father, but she did not understand the cricket jargon, so when the knowledgeable   lady next to her said "Over"  Mum got up to go and said "That was quick!" But mother far preferred dancing!

There are only two batsmen on the field at a time, but all the opposition are on. One is the bowler, the other ten are fielders, whose job is to catch the ball before it hits the ground, and if they do this the batsman is out. The wicket keeper that you see in the picture is specialist fielder. A side is out when ten of its batsmen are out, whereupon the next side takes its turn. The winner is the one with the most runs when the game is over. 


Logga Wiggler


A woman bowling
A woman bowling

Scoring and Being Out.

You can score  a run by hitting the ball and running between the stumps. If you hit the ball so hard that it hits the ground and crosses the boundary, you earn four runs. but you can get a six by hitting the ball so hard that it crosses the boundary before it touches the ground. Everyone wants to score a six!  If you look at the picture below you see the size of the pitch, which is quite large.

Getting a batsman out can be done as follows: 

1: Hitting the stumps with the ball and dislodging the bails.

2: When the batsmen hits the ball and a fielder catches it before it hits the ground within the area of the pitch. If it has gone over the boundary for a six it cannot be caught.

3: Leg before wicket [LBW.] If in the view of the umpire [referee] the batsman has missed the ball because his leg has blocked it from hitting the stumps the batsman is out.

4: Run out. During the runs if  a fielder catches the ball and throws it so that it hits the stumps, dislodging the bails, before the batsman is in his crease, then he is out. 

5: Stumped. When the batsman is out of his crease, either running or has stepped out to hit the ball, then the wicket keeper can, if he has caught it, knock off the bails with the ball in his hand.

6: Hitting your own stumps with your bat.

7: Some batsmen retire injured from a specific game, if they have been hit by the ball.     

A match can be won, drawn or tied. Ties are rare and they occur when both sides have scored exactly the same number of runs at the end of play. Here is an example of a draw. Lancashire have scored 350 runs before their batsmen were all out. Durham have scored 330, but by the end of the period of play are not all out, they have held on, then a draw is declared.  

Cricket pitch

Cricket pitch
Cricket pitch

Game of Cricket



In the UK cricket is arranged around counties, one of  which, Lancashire, in North West England plays a mile from my house. There are local clubs as well, and recently there has been a reform to allow non-country sides to play at county level. There is also international cricket, whose matches are known as tests.

Matches can last up to five days, with each side being in to bat twice. So each team has two innings.Each team does its innings in turn, team A then B,then A,then B.  Now take an example.Suppose that Lancashire score 300 runs and then Yorkshire only score 100, which is 200 less than Lancashire, Lancashire, who never lose in any example that I give you, guess why, can make Yorkshire bat again. We call this enforcing the follow on.  So this means that if Yorkshire do as badly in the next innings Lancashire have won by an innings. I am being a bit naughty here,as Lancashire and Yorkshire are bitter rivals and in memory of the Wars of the Roses,which were fought between the Dukes of Lancaster and York, we now speak of Lancashire Yorkshire matches as Roses matches. 

Besides five day cricket there is limited-over cricket. Some matches are limited to fifty overs, which is 300 balls each side. Others are twenty over matches, a hundred and twenty each. These are sometimes night matches played under floodlights. 

I have given readers a basic insight into the fundamentals of the game, but there is much more to say. For example, I have yet to mention types of bowls that a batsmen might face and there can be complex strategies operated by captains. There are fast, medium and spin bowlers.  There are different fielding positions, each of which has a name in the esoteric cricketing jargon. We will finish with my non-cricketing mother, who during the one cricket match she attended heard the knowledgeable lady next to her say "... So and so[ whose name I have forgotten] is in the gully"  Mother's reply was "Poor man, is he injured?" The lady had to explain that the gully is a fielding position, but mother could laugh at her own mistakes, but as I said, she far  preferred dancing to sport!


Updated: 05/12/2017, frankbeswick
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frankbeswick on 07/22/2017

Yes,most certainly. Most fans throw it back, but professional matches have a stock of balls, as the ball takes some hammering from the impact of the bat and will have to be replaced in long match. Sometimes damage occurs along the stitching. The ball can lose its polish and become rough, which causes it to bounce erratically at times.

DerdriuMarriner on 07/22/2017

frankbeswick, What happens when the ball goes into the stands? Are fans obligated to return it?

frankbeswick on 04/30/2017

Just a morning.As for the second question,I wish.

blackspanielgallery on 04/30/2017

I assume school teams did not go at it for five days.
As an observation of the War of the Roses reference, a cricket game would have been a better alternative, and gone much faster. Can we settle world conflicts with sports?

frankbeswick on 04/29/2017

What part did cricket play in my life? Cricket was the only sport at which I represented the school,unused substitute once when I was nine. not a great record. I could bat,but I was a very poor bowler. But it is a game that I and many others enjoy.

dustytoes on 04/29/2017

Your explanation of the game is a good one, but it sounds about as boring as baseball to me. I only watch football, and only when the New England Patriots are playing! :) I just don't get overly excited about sports. Probably because I am jealous of all the athletic types that can play well.

frankbeswick on 04/29/2017

I think it worth saying that cricket bats are made out of a particular subspecies of willow, known as the cricket bat willow, that has its natural habitat in Eastern England.

frankbeswick on 04/27/2017

To you maybe, but not to others.

Veronica on 04/27/2017

Cricket is a silly game ... a boring , tedious, silly game. End of.

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