Cricket is a team sport for two teams of eleven players each. A formal game of cricket can last anything from an afternoon to several days.
Although the game play and rules are very different, the basic concept of cricket is similar to that of baseball. Teams bat in successive innings and attempt to score runs, while the opposing team fields and attempts to bring an end to the batting team's innings. After each team has batted an equal number of innings (either one or two, depending on conditions chosen before the game), the team with the most runs wins.
(Note: In cricket-speak, the word ``innings'' is used for both the plural and the singular. ``Inning'' is a term used only in baseball.)
Field placements in cricket are not standardised. There are several named field positions, and the fielding captain uses different combinations of them for tactical reasons. There are also further descriptive words to specify variations on the positions labelled by simple names, so that any position in which a fielder stands can be described.
The following diagram shows the rough positions of all of the simply named field positions. In this diagram, the pitch is indicated by three '#' marks; the striker's end is at the top. The bowler is not shown, but would be running upwards towards the bottom end of the pitch. The approximate field positions are marked with numbers or letters, according to the key on the right of the diagram. The three marks: '+', '*', and '~' indicate that the adjective shown at the bottom of the list can be used to describe a modification of that position, as shown in the example.
--------------------------------- 1 wicket keeper / \ 2 first slip / e h \ 3 second slip / \ 4 third slip / \ 5 gully + / \ 6 point +*~ / \ 7 cover + / 2 j \ 8 extra cover + | 43 1 d | 9 mid-off +* | 5 | a mid-on +* | 6 # i c | b mid-wicket + | # | c square leg +~ | 7 # b | d leg slip | 8 | e third man | | f long off \ 9 a / g long on \ / h fine leg \ / i bat-pad \ / + deep (near boundary) \ / * silly (near batsman) \ f g / ~ backward (more 'up') \ / eg. --------------------------------- j deep backward square leg
When one bowler has completed six balls, that constitutes an over. A different member of the fielding team is given the ball and bowls the next over - from the opposite end of the pitch. The batsmen do not change ends, so the roles of striker and non-striker swap after each over. Any member of the fielding team may bowl, so long as no bowler delivers two consecutive overs. Once a bowler begins an over, he must complete it, unless injured or suspended during the over.
If the batsmen run one or three (or five! rare, but possible), then they have swapped ends and their striker/non-striker roles are reversed for the next ball (unless the ball just completed is the end of an over).
The game is adjudicated by two umpires, who make all decisions on the field and whose word is absolutely final. One umpire stands behind the non-striker's wicket, ready to make judgements on LBWs and other events requiring a decision. The other umpire stands in line with the striker's popping crease, about 20 metres (20 yards) to one side (usually the leg side, but not always), ready to judge stumpings and run-outs at his end. The umpires remain at their respective ends of the pitch, thus swapping roles every over.
The bowler must bowl each ball with part of his frontmost foot behind the popping crease. If he oversteps this mark, he has bowled a no ball. The umpire at that end calls ``no ball'' immediately in a loud voice. The batsman may play and score runs as usual, and may not be out by any means except run out, handle the ball, hit the ball twice, or obstructing the field. Further, if the batsman does not score any runs from the ball, one run is added to the batting team's score. Also, the bowler must bowl an extra ball in his over to compensate. A no ball is also called if any part of the bowler's back foot is not within the area between the return creases.
If a bowler is injured during an over and cannot complete it, another bowler must bowl the remaining deliveries in that over. The bowler chosen to finish the over must not be the bowler who bowled the previous over, and must not bowl the over immediately following either.
The Two Forms of Cricket - Cricket is played in two very distinct forms.
1) is limited duration, in which a specific number of hours of playing time are allocated and each team plays two innings.
2) is limited overs, in which each team plays one innings of a pre-determined number of overs.