Hello, HST family. My name is Fletcher, and I’m the newest HST contributor. And, truth be told, I’m really here for one thing and one thing only – I am the resident HST cricket expert.
Well, I actually plan on doing a little bit more than just cricket, but I do want to share my newfound love of the second most popular game on the planet, so please bear with me.
It was a late-December-but-still-pre-Christmas day last year. I was unemployed and waiting to go to lunch or something with my dad and brother. I was flipping channels and landed on NBCSN and found…well, this.
I was hooked.
I can’t explain or describe exactly why I was hooked, but I was hooked. It was exciting. It was fast. It was…a lot simpler than I thought.
Of course, I had heard of cricket and knew of it’s existence. I even knew the very, very basic things about it (the ball bounces to the batter, there isn’t “foul territory,” like in baseball so you could hit a home run behind you). But I had never watched it before, but I had always wanted to.
So, here I was, watching cricket at 12:20 p.m. on a Monday. And it was the best.
I then went all. in. on it. I discovered WatchESPN has cricket (they take New Zealand’s national team broadcasts and English club matches). I was going out of my way to find illegal streams. I was watching as much as I could, as often as I could.
That was about a year ago now, and while I haven’t been as adamant about watching as I’d like (it honestly goes in month cycles – I’ll watch a ton one month and then wont for another), I’m still treking along with the game, trying to learn it the best I can.
So, that was a long explanation and we haven’t even begun to talk about what this little series is going to do. Over the next however many articles, I’m going to walk you through how to better understand the game so you, too, can enjoy it like I do.
This is our primer piece, where we’ll go over the basics of the game. This is the Cricket 101, words you need to know type of piece (it was originally going to be many things combined, but I feared no one would stay with me that long).
These are how the game is measured. You have some variety of the games that are fewer overs than others (we’ll get to it, but a T20 match is 20 overs, while a Test match is at least 90 overs).
To analog it to baseball, it’s cricket’s inning (which is going to get confusing soon, but it still fits). So, in a T20 match, you bat for 20 overs, much like in baseball where you bat for nine innings.
One of the differences, though, is in cricket, you bat for 20 (or however many you’re playing) consecutively. So, imagine the Yankees had to get 27 outs before they could come to bat.
Also, each over is limited to 6 pitches (bowls or balls, as they’re called). So, every six pitches, it’s a new over, regardless of the score. If you see a score and it’s 6.1 or 18.3, that means that six overs and one ball has passed, or 18 overs and three balls have passed.
Remember when I said things would get confusing? Well, there actually are “innings,” in cricket, but they really don’t mean much sans the Test version of the game.
Much like in baseball, an innings (it is always plural in cricket) is one team’s turn on offense. So, after 3 innings in MLB, the Braves lead the Mets 5-2. Well, in cricket, a team (we’ll use the Perth Scorchers, my BBL team of choice for reference from hereonout) can have 210 runs in one innings (in the T20 game, that’d be 210 runs over 20 overs).
Where it comes into play is Test matches, where you have two innings instead of one.
So, in cricket you can score one of really three ways:
- Putting the ball into play and running between the center of the oval
- A boundary, of which there are two different kinds
- A wide delivery
Boundaries are exactly what they sound like – the ball hitting the boundary of the field. Every oval has a rope around it (now they have ad-pads), and if a ball is hit against or over the rope after hitting the ground, it’s 4 points. (Think of this as cricket’s ground rule double – it left the yard, but needed some help to do so.) The second kind of boundary is a Six and it’s worth…you got it, six runs. This is cricket’s home run – it clears the boundary of the field in the air.
Wickets are interchangeable with “out,” unless you’re talking about the actual wickets, which sit on the stumps behind the batsmen and are what the bowlers are trying to knockoff.
There are a plethora of ways one can be forced into a wicket, but the most common are:
- LBW – Leg Before Wicket
- Run out
To be Bowled is basically cricket’s strikeout – the bowler has successfully put the ball past the batsman and it hit the stumps behind him, causing the wickets to fall off. Boom, he gone.
To be caught is…well, self explanatory. The ball is hit in the air and is caught before it hits the ground.
An LBW is actually a lot more common than I thought it was before I started to watch a good amount; so, if you’re the batsman, you’re there to put the ball in play, but you’re also there to defend the wickets. Sometimes you’ll watch a batsman just put the bat on the ball with no desire to attempt to score just so he can see another ball.
With the way the batsman’s mechanics work, he usually has one leg directly behind the other, which is in front of the stumps. Well, if that leg is hit by the ball (without hitting the bat) and hits his leg whilst on the way to the wicket, he’s gone. (Essentially, you can’t block the wicket with anything but the bat.)
A run out is cricket’s force play – the ball is put into play, and before the batsman (either one, as there are two) reaches a certain point in front of the wicket, the ball hits the stumps to knock the wickets off (this can be done by throwing the ball at them or having the wicketkeeper – cricket’s catcher – knock them off with the ball in his hand), and that batsman is out.
I believe that is going to do it, for now. Those are the necessities that you need to know in order to understand what is going on with all of that madness.
Now, armed with that knowledge, go rewatch that highlight video and see if you can better keep up with the action.