The Basic Cricket Rules

Cricket, for the uninitiated, can be quite confusing. For example, not many cricket fans can get their heads around the fact that a match can last for five days and still end in a draw. If you are new to cricket, the following article will help you come to terms with the rules that apply this sport.

The Cricket Pitch

Basic cricket rules Basic cricket rules

First of all, a game of cricket is played on a circular or oval field, with the playing area indicated by a boundary rope. These boundary ropes, according to standards set by the International Cricket Council (ICC) have to be at least 65-90 yards away from the pitch. The pitch is a rectangle area in the centre of the field that is 22 yards long. This is where all the main action happens. At both ends of the pitch, you will find three wooden sticks, known as stumps, sticking out of the ground and there will be two bails sitting on top of them. This is what the batsmen have to try to protect, but more on that a bit later. In front of the stumps, there is a white line that is known as the batting crease. The batsman has to be behind this crease, or he risks to be dismissed. The crease is also there to help the umpires, of which there are two, decide whether a ball is a legal delivery or not.

How Are Runs Scored?

The basic idea of cricket is to score more runs (novices call them points, but that is the wrong term) than your opponents, but what are the different ways that a batsman can score? Well, in cricket, there has to be a batsman at either end of the pitch, which is why teams are out when they have lost ten batsmen, despite the fact that eleven players make up a cricket team. The batsman that is on strike, that is the one that is facing the bowler, can score runs as follows:

  • If he hits the ball into a gap, he and his partner at the other end can run to the opposite side. They will be rewarded one run for every time that they successfully do this.
  • If the player who is batting hits the ball well and it sails along the turf to the boundary rope, his team shall be rewarded 4 runs.
  • If the batsman then plays a shot that flies over the boundary rope without touching the playing field, the result shall be 6 runs awarded to his team.

Batsmen will hold their bats aloft to the crowd when they hit a half-century or a century. These are milestones for batters and, come the end of their career, they are often judged on how many centuries they hit. Runs can also be gained by a bowler making a mistake. For example, if he doesn’t have part of his foot behind the crease when he releases the ball, the umpire will call a no-ball. This means that one run will be added to the total and the ball has to be bowled again. Also, if the bowler bowls the ball too wide or too high, a wide will be called. Once again, this results in one run being awarded to the batting team and the bowler having to bowl an extra ball. If the bowler runs up and aborts his delivery, the umpire will signal a dead ball and the bowler will bowl it again. Penalty runs can also be awarded to the batting team if the fielding side gets too mouthy or if the ball hits stray cricket equipment lying on the outfield.

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How Do the Fielding Players Prevent Runs Being Scored?

The fielding team’s main aim is to obviously restrict their opponents to as few runs as possible. This is where the bowlers come in, but the fielders are equally as important. There are different types of bowlers in cricket, with the two main categories being pace bowlers and spin bowlers. The former tries to intimidate their opponents by bowling with extreme pace and skill, while the latter tries to bamboozle batsman with intricate spin. The best way to prevent a team from scoring runs is to get their batsmen out, which is known as picking up a wicket. There are a number of ways that bowler can pick up a wicket. We will look at these methods now.

  • Bowled: If the batsman misses the ball and it goes through his defences and hits the stumps, knocking the bails off, he is out.
  • Caught: If the batsman hits the ball up in the air and it is caught by one of the fielders before it touches the turf, he is out.
  • Leg Before Wicket: This is commonly abbreviated to LBW and is when the umpire believes that the ball would have gone on to knock the stumps over if the batsman had not got their pad in the way.
  • Stumped: A batsman can be out stumped if he comes out of his crease towards the bowler (usually as a means to try and put the bowler off), misses the ball, and the wicket-keeper (the fielder in who stands behind the stumps) whips off the bails before the batsman manages to ground any part of his body or his bat back over the crease.
  • Run out: If the batting side goes for a run and the fielding side manages to knock the bails off before one of the batters has reached the crease, then the fielding side have picked up a wicket.

These are the most common ways for players to get out in cricket. There are some other methods too, but these are quite rare, so it is not worth worrying about them at the moment. You already have a lot to take in, so we shall not burden you with more intricacies. Each side gets a number of reviews when they are batting. In test cricket, they get a total of two per 80 overs bowled and in limited overs matches they get just one per innings. When batting, a batsman can use a review if he thinks that the umpires are wrong to give him out. To apply for a review, the batsman needs to make a T sign within 15 seconds of the decision being made. The footage will then be viewed by the Television Match Official (TMO) and technology will be used to determine whether he is out or not. When fielding, if the captain does not like the fact that a batsman was given not out by the umpires, he can send it to the TMO as well. In many club matches, the TMO is not available so players have to be content with whatever decisions the umpires make.

"If the review is successful, they get to keep it, but if it is unsuccessful, the result will be a lost review and some disappointment."

How is it Decided Which Team Bats First and Which Team Bowls?

Both teams obviously cannot bat at the same time so there needs to be a way to determine who will bat and who will be bowling. The way that this is done is by a coin toss. Before play begins, the captain from each team will go out to the middle for the coin toss. The match referee will flick the coin and one captain will call heads or tails. The winning captain will then get to choose whether his team will be bowling or batting first.

There Are Three Different Formats of Cricket Matches

In cricket, you will often hear the words “over” or “overs”. So, what are they? Well, a game of cricket is measured in overs. An over is made up of 6 balls that are bowled by the same bowler. There are three different formats of cricket and we will explain these below:

  • Test: Test match cricket is played over the course of five days, with 90 overs being bowled each day (although it is rare to get all of the overs in nowadays). Both teams get two innings to bat and two innings to bowl unless one team is completely dominant and only need to bat once. When a team is batting, it is known as an innings. Bowlers can bowl as many overs as their captain desires in this format of the game. In order to win a test match, one side has to pick up twenty wickets.
  • 50 Overs: In this format of the game, both teams get to bat for 50 overs (300 balls) or until they have lost all ten wickets. Fielding restrictions are in place in this format, to make it easier to score runs and to make it more entertaining for those in the crowd. Furthermore, each bowler is only allowed to bowl a total of 10 overs in the innings. Time-wise, these matches last anywhere between 6-8 hours.
  • 20 Overs: In this format, both teams get just 20 overs (120 balls) to bat or until they have lost all their wickets. Once again, fielding restrictions are in place at particular times during the innings to ensure entertainment for the crowd. In this format, bowlers can only bowl a total of 4 overs. These matches last the shortest time, about 3 hours.

In amateur club cricket, most the matches that you will come across will have limited overs, ranging from 15-50 overs per team - it all depends on the level of the league that you are watching or playing in. Purists have said that the shorter format of the game will not last, but they are now more popular than test cricket. In fact, some of the most popular cricket tournaments in the world are 20 over tournaments. For example, there is the Indian Premier League, the Big Bash League, and the Vitality Blast. When it comes to gambling, cricket fans are much more likely to place bets on a 50 or 20 over match as they are faster, and they don’t have to wait five days to see if their bets will come in. Cricket fans love to place bets on cricket matches as there are just so many different markets that you can bet on.

A Complete Overview of the Rules of Cricket

  • During play, the fielding team needs to have 11 players on the outfield.
  • A bowler has to bowl 6 legal deliveries in order for an over to be completed.
  • One umpire must stand at either end of the pitch and count each ball as well as decide whether a batsman is out or not.
  • A player is out...
    • - if the ball hits his stumps (bowled)
    • - if a fielder catches his shot before it has bounced (caught),
    • - if the ball hits his pads and the umpire deems that it would have hit the stumps had he not got in the way (LBW),
    • - if he leaves his crease and the wicket-keeper hits the bails off before he has returned to the crease (stumped),
    • - if he tries to complete a run and the ball hits the stumps before he has got over the crease (run out),
    • - if he steps on his own stumps or dislodges the bails with his bat (hit wicket),
    • - if he intentionally handles the ball (handled ball),
    • - if he obstructs a fielder or deliberately gets in the way of the ball (obstructing the field),
    • - if he takes longer than 30 seconds to get to the crease when a wicket has fallen (timed out).
  • After both teams have had their innings, the team with the most runs will be declared as the winners.
  • There will be a third and fourth umpire which are there to help the two umpires on the field to make a decision.
  • The fielding team is allowed one wicket-keeper who is allowed to wear gloves and pads.