Cricket, although international and popular all over the world, is quintessentially a very English game. It is played between two teams, each consisting of eleven players. At any time on the field are two from one side (the batting side) and eleven from the opposing side (who would be bowling/fielding).
The first team that have all eleven players on the pitch are the fielding team and the team that have just two players on the field are the batting team. Cricket is usually played on a large oval pitch on which the fielders are distributed around the pitch according to the instructions of their captain and bowler. In cricket there are specific fielding positions on the pitch, all with their own unique name.
In, or around, the middle of the pitch, there is an area called “the wicket”. This is a thin strip of grass that is 22 yards long, 8 foot 8 inches wide and very flat. It has a set of three stumps also know as wickets, at each end. The three “stumps” are about a yard high and they are set in to the ground a few inches apart. They are connected by two wooden “bails” that are balanced on indentations on top of the stumps. The aim for the bowler is to knock the bails off of the top of the stumps by “bowling” the ball at them. And the object for the batsman is to defend the wicket from the ball. “Bowling” is a way of throwing the ball that is unique to cricket, where the arm must remain straight as the ball is delivered.
The bowler has to “bowl the ball overarm while keeping his arm straight all of the time. If he bends his arm and is, in effect, throwing the ball, it is not allowed and called a ‘no ball’. The bowler bowls the ball six times each “over”, then another bowler bowls six balls from the other end of the wicket. The bowlers can be changed for other members of the fielding team, as usually each team will have at least four people who would be classed as bowlers.
The object for the batsman is to hit the ball away from his wicket, far enough from the fielders so that he has enough time to run between the two sets of stumps and so score a “run”. He can also score a run without hitting the ball as long as he can run before the fielders knock the bails off of the stumps; this is called a ‘bye’.
The other batsman stands at the other end of the wicket and has to run at the same time as the batsman facing the ball. The batsman has to reach the other end of the wicket to the crease before the fielders knock the bails off of the stumps. The batting crease is an area that is 122cms in front of the stumps. When the batsman is in this he cannot be out by the fielding team knocking the bales off of the stumps.
When the bowler is bowling the batsman has to defend the stumps from the ball being bowled with his bat whether or not he is standing in front of the crease. But if he stops the ball from hitting the stumps by using his legs then he can be out by LBW, or “leg before wicket”.
He can also be out by one of the fielders catching a ball that he has hit before it has bounced on the ground. When the batsman are running between the stumps, if either of the batsmen are not in the crease when the fielder hits the stumps and knocks the bails off with the ball, then they are “run out”.
Each time the two batsmen run successfully between the two sets of stumps, they get one run. If the batsman manages to hit the ball over the rope that marks the boundary when it has bounced or rolled on the ground, he gets four runs. If he hits the ball over the boundary without it bouncing on the ground, then he gets six runs. Each “innings” lasts until 10 out of the 11 batsmen are out (two batsman must always be on the wicket, so one batsman can not bat on his own). This is because the batting team need two players on the pitch at a time so that one can be at each end.
The team that wins is the team that has the highest number of runs after everybody has batted or the number of overs being played runs out. If the two teams have he same score then the match is a draw, unless one team has fewer players out than the other. Most club games are played over one “innings”. This means that each team bats and fields once. But some games are played over two innings where each team bats and fields twice. Games are very often played over a certain number of “overs” that are agreed beforehand by the captains or according to league regulations and can be altered according to the weather, if play is interrupted. In club cricket both teams usually play in cricket whites.