Cricket is a very unique sport.
There are many unique aspects of cricket and maybe this is why some people have a difficulty in understanding and appreciating the sport. The most common reason I have heard is the long time period over which the game is played. People are often unable to see the strategies and tactics put in place to outsmart the opposing team, and they simply don’t have the patience it takes to realise the intricacies involved.
Although cricket is classified as a team sport, I believe it can also be looked upon as a 1v1 sport, akin to any other solo game such as tennis. At any stage, it is basically,
- You Vs. The Bowler
- You Vs. The Batter
- You Vs. The Fielder
Your success is not (fully) dependant on your teammates. Any single action that you take could influence the outcome of the match.
You are the person playing against a single opponent and oftentimes, you are only playing against yourself.
There are many issues to take into consideration when looking at a game of cricket, these can include but are not limited to:
- Your opponents skills (strengths, weaknesses)
- The weather conditions
- The pitch conditions
- The match situation
As with any task/event, there is a science behind it. You can always find a set of rules or a list of procedures that will eventually allow you to replicate what has been achieved and completed before. In my mind, there is no doubt in regards to that. All it takes is some commitment and focus to understand the sport and all its intricacies, and soon enough, your understanding will be unparalleled (and as a by-product, your game will improve drastically as well).
Cricket as a sport is not very forgiving. You sometimes only get a single opportunity to take a catch or stop a boundary that would otherwise influence and shape the outcome of the match. As a batsman as well, if you make a single mistake, that’s it. You then need to re-evaluate and understand that situation until you get another chance in your next innings. It is not simply a matter of brushing it off and then playing the next ball of the over. You don’t get a second chance.
Cricket can be seen as very simple or very complex sport. It just depends on the perspective.
Cricket consists of two teams with eleven players each. Depending on the format of the game, the rules are modified and different strategies apply.
To give you a basic understanding:
Each team bats for an innings and tries to score as many runs as possible. During a single innings, the batting team has a total of ten wickets, with one batsman remaining not out. The bowling & fielding team tries to limit the number of runs scored while also taking wickets as quickly as possible to reduce the length of the innings. Runs are scored by hitting the ball and then successfully completing a ‘run’ from one end of the pitch to the other or by hitting boundaries. Once the first team has completed their innings, the bowling & fielding team then reverses their role and must try and score more runs than the opposing team to win the match. Basically, whichever team has the most runs wins the game.
If you only read the paragraph above, you should have a simple understanding of how the game works. Now I’ll try and expand upon this and explain some of the more advanced terms and concepts.
Any game of cricket is divided into separate ‘stages’, these stages are called an innings. During an innings, one team is fielding/bowling and one team is batting. Whenever an innings is completed, the fielding/bowling team and the batting team then reverse roles. The fielding team has all eleven players on the field at the same time, and the batting team has only 2 players on the field (in most cases).
The pitch is usually placed in the centre of the field and is approximately 20.2 metres in length. The batsmen stand at each end of the pitch. One batsman is on ‘strike’, which means facing the bowler, while the other is at the bowlers end (also called the non-striker). At each end of the pitch, there are wickets (also known as stumps) and they are located within the ‘crease’.
The fielding team consists of a wicketkeeper who has a fixed position behind the stumps at the strikers end of the pitch. The fielding team also selects a bowler who bowls the ball (also called a delivery) from the non strikers end of the pitch to the strikers end. The bowler obviously stays at the non strikers end of the pitch before and after each delivery. Each bowler can bowl six deliveries in a row, which is classified as an over. This can change if there are any ‘wides’ or ‘no-balls’ bowled during the over, which are not counted and they must be re-bowled. Once an over has been completed, a new bowler must be chosen and he/she starts his/her over from the opposite end of the pitch. Any member of the fielding team can bowl but a single bowler cannot bowl two overs in a row.
This means that there are 9 other team members who can be strategically placed around the field in an attempt to both limit the number of runs a batsman can score, whilst also improving the probabilities that the fielding team have of taking a wicket. Any time a wicket falls (also called a dismissal) then the batsman is deemed out and the next member of the batting team makes his/her way out onto the field, replacing the batsman who was just dismissed. There are many methods of dismissal, which will be discussed in detail in a future post.
The batsmen use a bat to hit the ball and attempt to score as many runs as possible for the batting team. A run can be scored by the striker initially hitting the ball, then both batsman running and crossing each other over the length of the pitch to reach the opposing crease. Runs can also be scored by the batsman by hitting the ball to the boundary, which will grant either 4 or 6 runs. Four runs when the ball bounces before reaching the boundary or six runs if the ball is hit over the boundary on the full. The batsmen can determine whether it is safe to take a run or not, and they have the ability to take as many ‘runs’ as they wish. If the fielding team hits the stumps before a batsman has reached the opposite crease (while taking a run), then he will be deemed out and must make way for his/her next teammate.
The batting innings is completed when either the fielding team has been able to take all 10 wickets or when the allotted number of overs has been reached. The allotted number of overs depends on the format of the game, but can range from unlimited, to either 50 overs or 20 overs. The team that is able to score the highest number of runs is usually the winning team. As you can tell, it can all seem fairly complicated but once you see it in action and understand the basics, you will realise how simple it actually is.
So hopefully you now have a better understanding of the game and how it is played. In the next few posts I’ll discuss the various components of the sport in greater detail.