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Cricket is a sport. It is played between two teams of eleven players each who score runs (points) by running between two sets of three small, wooden posts called wickets. Each of the wickets is at one end of a rectangle of flattened grass called the pitch. Around the pitch is a much larger oval of grass called the cricket ground.
The game started in England in the 16th century. The earliest definite reference to the sport is in a court case of 1598. The court in Guildford heard a coroner, John Derrick, that when he was a scholar at the "Free School at Guildford", fifty years earlier, "hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play [on the common land] at creckett and other plaies". Later, the game spread to countries of the British Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Today, it is a popular sport in England, Australia, the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, the West Indies and a few other countries including Afghanistan, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland and the Netherlands.
The main rules of cricket
These are the rules. There are two teams: the team bowling has 11 players on the field. The team batting always has two players on the field.
The captain of the bowling team chooses a bowler from his team; the other 10 players are called fielders. The bowler is trying to aim the ball at a wicket, which is made up of three sticks (called stumps) stuck into the earth, with two small sticks (called bails) balanced on them. One of the fielders, called the wicket keeper, stands behind the wicket to catch the ball if the bowler misses the wicket. The other fielders chase the ball after the batsman has hit it.
The bowler runs towards his wicket, and bowls towards the batsman at the other wicket. He does not throw the ball. He bowls the ball overarm with a straight arm. An 'over' is six balls meaning he bowls six times. Then another player becomes the bowler for the next over, and bowls from the other end, and so on. The same bowler cannot bowl two overs one after the other.
The batsman is trying to defend the wicket from getting hit with the ball. He does this with a bat. When he hits the ball with his bat, he may run toward the other wicket. To score a run, the two batsmen must both run from their wicket to the other wicket, as many times as they can. If the ball leaves the field after being hit without bouncing, six runs are scored. If the ball rolls or bounces out, whether or not the batter hit it, it counts as four runs.
There are different ways that a batsman can get out. The most common ways are:
- The batsman misses the ball and it hits the wicket: called bowled.
- The ball hits the batsman's body when it would have hit the wicket otherwise. Called LBW (leg before wicket). The way this rule is applied is complicated; this is just the general idea.
- A fielder catches the ball after the batsman hits it, and before it bounces or leaves the field: called caught.
- While the batsmen are running, a fielder can throw the ball at the wicket. If the batsmen cannot finish the run, the batsman nearer to the wicket that is hit is out: called run out.
When a batsman is out, another comes onto the field to take his place. The innings is over when ten wickets are taken (i.e. ten of the eleven batsmen are out).
In a one-day game, each side has one innings, and innings are limited to a certain number of overs. In longer formats each side has two innings, and there is no specific limit to the number of overs in an innings.
Where cricket is played
Cricket is popular in many countries, mostly in Commonwealth countries.
The countries where cricket is most popular compete in international matches (games between countries) that last up to 5 days, which are called test matches. Those countries are England, Australia, West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The West Indies are a group of Caribbean countries that play together as a team. Several other countries have more junior status. The test match idea was invented by teams from England and Australia in the 19th century.
Cricket is also played in Kenya, Canada, Bermuda, Ireland, Scotland, Holland; the national teams of those countries can play one-day international matches, but do not play test matches. Zimbabwe does not play international cricket at present. Pakistan is not able to play international cricket at home at present (for security reasons). Afghanistan is a new entrant in the cricket world.
A cricket field is where cricket is played. It is circular or oval-shaped grassy ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the field. Its diameter usually varies between 450 feet (137 m) to 500 feet (150 m).
Different forms of cricket
Test matches are the top international matches played between countries. The countries permitted to play test matches are accredited by the ICC: the International Cricket Council. The nine countries are listed above, with 'West Indies' counting for this purpose as a country. Tests last for five days.
National league systems
Called counties in England, and states in Australia and islands in the West Indies. These are three or four day matches.
Limited overs cricket
In these games, the length is determined by the number of overs, and each side has one innings only. A special formula, known as the 'Duckworth–Lewis method' is applied if rain reduces the time for play. It calculates the target score for the team batting second in a limited overs match interrupted by weather or other circumstance.
One day internationals
Usually restricted to 50 overs batting for each side.
20 overs for each side.
In cricket there are two special kinds of average, used to measure how good a player is:
- A batsman's batting average is the number of runs he has scored in a period (such as a year or his whole career), divided by the number of times he was got out in the same period. A good batsman has a high batting average.
- A bowler's bowling average is the number of runs that have been scored while he was bowling, in a period, divided by the number of batsmen he has got out in the same period. A good bowler has a low bowling average.
There is a separate set of averages for each type of cricket listed above.
- Explanation of cricket
- Cricket explained (an American viewpoint)
- International Cricket Council