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Basics of Cricket

Kaye Black provides an essential guide to cricket for beginners.

This team game with a ball and bat appeared in the south of England in the 16th century. The game acquired its rules when the first code for players was written around 1744.

Cricket is still considered the national summer sport of Great Britain. However, it has become popular in South Africa, Australia, the West Indies, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and some European countries - in particular, the Netherlands and Denmark. It is also played in many parts of Canada and the United States.

The game has millions of fans all over the world, but there are still a lot of people who do not know anything about this sport. This article is to acquaint you with the basics of the game.

The Basics of Cricket

The pitch

The cricket pitch can be of any size. They usually play on a grass pitch of round or oval shape, which is about 165 meters from edge to edge. Such a field should be flat, though the surface of the famous Lords stadium in London has a difference in levels of up to 2.75m.

In the centre of the pitch, there is a rectangular rolled area with short-cut grass. Here, on the central platform, the main events of the match happen. In some countries, due to their climate, it is not possible to provide natural or specially grown grass. This area can be covered with artificial grass or some other unique materials. The central platform is approximately 3 metres wide and 20 metres long, and there are wickets at both ends. The wicket is 23 centimetres wide, and consists of three wooden poles stuck into the ground at such a distance from each other that a ball cannot pass between them. At 1.22 metres in front of both wickets, there is a batsman's crease line.

The match and players

There are two teams of 11 players each taking part in the match.

In elite cricket, a match can last 3-5 days, depending on the rules of the competition or a series of games. During such a game, both teams are given two rounds of bowling and batting. At the lower level, the duration of a match is generally one day, and each side is offered only one round of bowling and batting.

Before the start of the match, the captains toss a coin, and the winning captain can choose to bowl or bat first.

The rivals

The batting team is trying to score as many runs as possible. The batters are represented by two players (batsmen), who occupy a place at each wicket. The other nine players are off the pitch at this time, waiting for their turn to bat.

The other team is all present on the playing field. One player performs the function of a wicket-keeper. The remaining players are fielders, and at least five of them will take on the role of bowler.

The gameplay

The match begins with the player of the attacking team (bowler) bowling the ball from one wicket end to the other, which is protected by one of the two batsmen from the opposing team. The batsman takes a position in by the crease line, in a typical pose: half-turn and, if he is right-handed, putting his left shoulder towards the bowler. Meanwhile, the second batsman is near the opposite wicket getting ready to make a  run.

A run is a situation when after a ball is bowled the batsman and his teammate can exchange places. Batsmen rarely manage to make more than three runs in a row. The exception is the case when a team gets 4 points when the ball is hit and bounces beyond the boundary line.

Finally, a batter can score six runs, when the ball is hit and lands beyond the boundary line. In cricket, a batsman is not obliged every time, having hit the ball, to run to the opposite wicket; in this sport, runs are at the discretion of both playing batsmen - if they see that in a particular situation a run can be safely made.

The task of the bowler is to remove the bails of the batsman's wicket with the ball. The ball is usually delivered to the batsman by the bowler with a bounce off the ground. The bowler and team captain outline the scheme of the most effective arrangement of field players in advance to prevent the batsman from gaining runs.

A batsman can be run out when the bails of the wicket to which the batsman is running are removed before the batsman reaches the wicket crease line.

All ten members of the team have the opportunity to bat, and the match continues until there is only one batsman left. Batting can also be stopped if the captain believes his team has already scored a sufficient number of runs.

The bowling is divided into overs which comprise six balls. After one bowler has completed an over, the next over is carried out by another bowler from the other wicket end.

In elite cricket, a game may take from 5 to 6 hours for 2 to 3 days. A good result for this time is more than 300 runs, although it depends on the state of the central playground. With uneven, wet, or dried soil, 150 runs can be considered a good result.

The result

The match ends with victory for the team that scored the most runs. If the match time expires, and one team has no advantage on runs, then the match is considered to be a draw.

Teams are not required to defend their wickets strictly in turn. If after the first round a team is leading with a wide margin, the umpire may invite the losing side to continue defending their wicket for the second time in a row, opening the next round.


To perform the judging role, two umpires are appointed for each match, who is located on the pitch. Their task is to control the strict observance of the rules of the game, so their decisions during the match are final (no discussion).

Cricketers have always been required to behave on the pitch. Even today, when the level of discipline is uncontrollably falling in other sports, cricket is very sensitive to any misconduct of its players - especially the slightest objection to the decisions of the referee. Players participating in regular international tournament matches (test matches) or matches of reduced duration are required to comply with a specific code of conduct on the field and can be fined for any violations.


Being provided with the basics of this sport, you can join the big community of cricket fans anytime. This is truly a sort of game to be played by gentlemen and women.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • BLACK, K. (2019) Basics of Cricket [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Kaye Black is a freelance writer who finds inspiration in fascinating facts and statistics that create compelling stories.