team with the highest number of 'runs' (points
scored primarily by running between wickets after hitting
the ball) wins the match, after which the players and
spectators recover from the confusion over a beer in the
pavilion, crickets equivalent of golf's nineteenth
afficionados will tell you that one subtle difference
between their sport and baseball is that the ball can
bounce before the batsman hits it. This bouncing is called
a 'pitch', but the player bouncing it is not called
a 'pitcher' like his baseball equivalent. He is the 'bowler',
and must keep his arm straight when releasing the ball,
which he aims at the batsman's wicket (or base). The wicket
consists of three upright wooden sticks so placed that
that the ball cannot pass between them. Wooden 'bails'
lie in grooves on top of them. When hit by the ball the
whole arrangement collapses, indicating the batsman is
'out'. At this point the next team member comes in to
act of bouncing the ball on its way to the batsman allows
the bowler to impart 'movement' to the ball, with
the intention of catching the batsman unaware. This movement,
or spin, may cause the batsman to missjudge the
flight of the ball, resulting him to mis-hit into the
waiting hands of a player from the opposite team, or even
to miss it all together. A collection of six balls ('deliveries')
is called an over; one delivery in an over can
be aimed at the batsman's head. This may cause the watching
public to mutter 'that's just not cricket'. Which, of
course, it is.
to the speed ('pace') and movement of a ball, the
batsman has various options. He may drive it along the
ground, lift it into air, or flick it to the side or behind
himself. Alternatively, he may use the safety pads on
his legs (or arms) to stop or deflect the ball. This is
risky because it will invariably prompt the bowler and
his team to shout 'Howwizzzahhtt!'. This means something
like 'How does that look to you Umpire - is he out?' and
is usually ignored by the umpire (referee) unless
he judges that the ball would have continued on to hit
the wicket. Then the batsman is given 'out' and the bowler's
teammates smugly feel that their banshee scream was justified.
If the batsman is out without having scored a run, this
is a 'duck' and his embarrassment is compounded.
the edge of the field is the boundary. If a batsman
hits the ball to this boundary he is awarded four
runs. If it does not bounce before doing so it is six
runs (and stands a good chance of hitting a spectator).
field itself is divided into two halves, the on
side and the off side. 'On' is synonymous with
'Leg', and represents the side of the
field to the left of the batsman as he faces the bowler
or opposite wicket. Presuming of course he is righthanded;
if not, everything I've just said is reversed.
are placed at strategic positions (in order to both stop
runs and to catch a batsman out if possible) and these
positions have distinct names. For example, the long
off position is near the boundary, far away from the
batsman to his front and right, while silly mid-on
represents a position of extreme danger, as the name might
suggest, being as it is immediately to a batsman's left.
A square leg says more about where one umpire stands
rather than how he is standing, while backward point
or deep fine leg says nothing about any mental
or physical ability at all.
Indeed. It has been said that the amount you know about
cricket is inversely proportional to a greater understanding
of how to play. Worry not about the rules, teams or results
but instead treat the whole experience as a strange and
fascinating ceremonial ritual.
West Indies Cricket - Official Website
cricket pitches (1999)