Starting next week, there will only be one small talk topic to worry about.
The biggest event in Cricket (and Indian sports) is the ICC Cricket World Cup, and it starts on February 13th in Australia. It happens once in four years, so now is the perfect time to learn about it and participate in the hype.
For those of you from the UK, Australia, or South Africa, this article isn’t for you. Listen to a few of the podcasts while you wait for everyone else to come up to speed.
Having a working knowledge of cricket will help you have better conversations with your Indian colleagues, and they will love the fact that you are trying to learn something they are deeply passionate about.
This article will give an outsider’s intro to cricket (specifically the rules), and next week we’ll look at the culture that surrounds the game.
A Primer, Not a Rulebook
This is intentionally not a complete guide to cricket. In the spirit of this website, you shouldn’t get all of your knowledge about something like cricket from an outside source. You should have enough knowledge to participate in an intelligent conversation, and then ask an Indian for all the details. This is simply a tool to help you ask the right questions.
Cricket is often compared to baseball, but it is very hard to jump from one sport to the other. To help those more familiar with baseball, I’ve occasionally used the appropriate baseball term in italics.
The particular kind of cricket played in the World Cup is called One Day International (ODI). Here is the incredibly simplified version:
- The point of the game is to get more runs than the other team.
- A match happens in two parts. In the first part, one team gets the highest score they can off of 300 balls thrown to them while the fielding team tries to stop them from getting runs. In the second part, the teams switch and the team that was fielding gets a chance to bat and score more runs than the other team in 300 balls or less.
Cricket is played on a large oval field like this.
In the middle of the field is a long rectangle. When a team is batting, they have two people on the field at one time. They stand on opposite sides of the rectangle. At each end of the rectangles is a set of three upright sticks.
One person (pitcher) from the fielding team throws the ball from one side of the rectangle to the other, trying to knock down the sticks or keep the batsman (batter) from hitting a shot.
As stated, each team gets one chance to score as many runs as they can, and they can only score when they are batting. They get one run every time their two players exchange places on the ends of the rectangle. The two partners might exchange places once, twice, or even three times.
If the batsman hits a ball that rolls outside the boundary of the field in any direction (even backwards), he scores 4 runs. If he hits it outside the boundary in the air, he scores 6 runs.
Good scores for ODI matches start at 250 runs and might go up to 400.
In ODI cricket, once a batsman (batter) gets out, he is out for the whole match. So, most batsmen try to stay in the game as long as they can.
Here are the most common ways a batsman can get out:
- The guy throwing the ball hits the sticks behind the batsmen with the ball
- The batsman hits the ball into the air and it is caught inside the boundary
- The fielders knock down the sticks while the batsman and his partner are in the middle of changing sides.
Only one of the two players from the batting side gets out at a time. If a player gets out, the next person in the batting order comes on to the field to join the other one still on the field.
This will continue until either 300 balls are thrown, or 10 batsmen are out (leaving only one on the field).
Now that you know the basics, you can start using some of the correct terminology and stop sounding like you have no clue what is going on. Many of the terms are similar to baseball, but used in a different context.
Pitch – (noun) The small rectangular area in the middle of the field.
Bowl – To throw a ball at a batsman. The person who throws it is called a ‘bowler’. If the bowler hits the sticks behind the batsman, he ‘bowled’ him.
Over – A set of 6 balls thrown. ODIs are 50-over matches. Overs are significant because the bowler changes after every over.
Innings – This refers to the entire team’s attempt to score runs. One innings (always used in the plural form) is finished after 300 balls or if everyone is out. In ODI matches, there are only two innings (one for each team).
Stumps – One of three upright sticks that sit behind the batsman.
Wickets – (1) The set of three stumps are called the ‘wickets’. (2) When a batsman gets out, the team lost a ‘wicket’. (3) If the second batting team reaches the total score with five players who still haven’t got out, they will say they won by ‘5 wickets’.
Questions to ask
Now that you have the basics, it’s up to you to expand your knowledge. Pick one of the questions below to ask your Indian colleague today!
- What is the difference between a spinner and a seamer? (Two types of bowlers)
- What is an ‘lbw’? (Another way to get out)
- What is the difference between an ODI and a T20 or a Test match? (Different formats of cricket)
- What is a century? (Related to getting runs)
- Should you put your better batsmen first or last? (Strategy)
Image Credits: j.e.mcgowan on Flickr, and Wikimedia commons