A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Cricket – HowTheyPlay

    I am a huge sports fan and I love explaining the beautiful sport of cricket to others.

    how does cricket work?

    Like all the great sports in the world, cricket is a very simple game when you break it down. one player will throw a ball while another tries to hit it. however, like all sports, there are a set of rules to play that you must learn. there is also specific terminology that can be complicated and very confusing.

    I’m an England cricket enthusiast and I’m going to try to remove some of the layers of confusion from the game. By the end of this article, you will have a basic understanding of how the game works.

    the absolute basics

    Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players on each side. matches are refereed by two referees. your decisions in the game are final.

    Just like in baseball, one team will bat while the other takes the field. The object of the game is to score more runs than the opposition. yes, it’s that simple!

    A game begins when the team captains toss a coin to see which side bats first. the winner of the toss can choose to bat first or hit the field first.

    match types

    There are three main types of cricket matches that you will see at a professional level.

    • test match – This is the longest match type; could potentially last up to five days. both teams will review their batting lineup twice for a total of four innings. for reference, one entry (yes, that term is both singular and plural) can last about a day. a test match will feature 90 overs; An over refers to six pins or bowls made by a bowler (the guy who bowls the ball).
    • One Day Match: As the name suggests, this type of match will only last for one day. each team bats once with 50 overs each.
    • twenty20 – This is the fastest match type. each team only faces 20 overs, so matches can be over in three hours.
    • batting

      The batting side begins by sending out the top two players in their batting order. the forward will receive pitches from the pitcher while the other hitters, the non-forward, will be at the other end of the field. the rest of the team will wait off the field for their turn to bat.

      bowls will be handed to the striker in an attempt to remove them. when this happens they are replaced by another batsman. this will happen until all players are out, which will be the end of the innings.


      the pitcher is the one who throws the ball to the batter.

      The fielding crew will spread out on the field in positions designed to prevent runs from being scored or to get batters out. the bowler will take the ball and bowl it to a batsman at the wicket, which are stumps on the ground that designate where the batsman should stand. the goalkeeper, who wears a pair of webbed gloves designed to catch the ball and protective pads that cover the shins, will be behind the wicket. they’ll catch any ball the batter can’t hit.

      The goal of the pitcher will be to prevent runs from being scored by getting the batter out. this is known as a dismissal in cricket.

      When a bowler has bowled six balls, constituting one over, another member of the outfield team is given the ball and bowls the next over from the opposite end of the field. batsmen do not switch sides, so the roles of forward and non-forward are swapped after each change. any member of the outfield team may bowl, provided that no bowler delivers two consecutive overs. once a player starts an over, he must complete it, unless he is injured or suspended during the over.

      basic cricket terms

      • innings: this is how a game is divided. innings refer to the length of time it takes for a team to bat. a test match has four innings and each team comes close to batting twice. other types of games will only have two innings with each team batting once.
      • wicket: refers to the three stumps at the end of a field. a batsman will bat in front of the wicket to protect it. Your goal is to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket.
      • run: This is simply the unit of scoring in cricket. this is most commonly done when a batsman runs after making a good hit.
      • dismissal: This refers to the end of batman’s batting period, similar to an out in baseball. the goal of the fielding team is to fire 10 players to finish innings.
      • cricket scoring

        These are the main methods of scoring a run in cricket.

        • single: is when a batsman hits a good shot that allows him to run to the opposite wicket. a run is scored if they reach the opposite side; both hitters need to know when this can be done on the field. double or triple singles are also possible.
        • limit: This is basically the equivalent of a home run in cricket. if a batter hits the ball to the perimeter of the field, his team receives six runs. no need to run into a limit shot.
        • extras: refer to the points awarded for the penalties taken by the field team. this happens when a pitcher throws a wide pitch (an illegal pitch that is too high or too wide) or a no-ball (the pitcher threw some type of illegal pitch or a fielder took an illegal action).
        • cricket dismissal

          here are the basic methods of dismissal in sport.

          • punched out: a batsman is out if a pitch hits the wicket. it can be a direct hit or a deflection of the batter or his bat.
          • Caught: A forward is out if he throws a pitch and the ball is caught by a pitcher or fielder before it hits the ground.
          • leg in front of the wicket: A beater is out if the ball hits any part of his body and the umpire decides that the pitch would have hit the wicket. this does not apply if the delivery hits the bat.
          • exhaust: this happens when batsmen run between wickets. if the ground team lowers a wicket while the ball is in play, the batsman closest to the wicket is out.
          • stumped: this occurs when the wicket-keeper leaves a wicket when a batsman has left his grounds.
          • are you interested?

            This is the basic outline of how the game is played. cricket is an exciting sport that has a huge following. If you think this game is intriguing, I encourage you to do more research on the sport. I highly recommend watching a professional game!

            reader comments

            babysparkle on September 15, 2019:

            good simple account of cricket, a sport that just struck me as interesting – thanks! :o)

            neil kelson on January 30, 2019:

            love cricket too – great webpages

            aliajamesaj8914 on August 02, 2014:

            I love cricket and am a huge fan of #cricket.

            aliajamesaj8914 on August 02, 2014:

            I love cricket and am a huge fan of #cricket.

            aliajamesaj8914 on August 02, 2014:

            I love cricket and am a huge fan of #cricket.

            john tannahill from somewhere in england on July 23, 2013:

            it’s very difficult to explain cricket to someone who doesn’t understand and you’ve done a great job. I think when you get to know the game, you like it so much that you forget to cover the basics. Mr. boycott said something interesting (for once). hitting is like the opposite of golf where the worse you play, the more you go you get.

            I’m on it on January 3, 2013:

            watching aus vs sri lanka right now. cricket is awesome! go australians

            lee from Derbyshire, United Kingdom on January 1, 2013:

            great lens, it seems like a lot of people have never really gotten into the game, which is really sad

            kay on November 27, 2012:

            my son played cricket when we lived in the caribbean. he really could have used this page because he just didn’t understand it 🙂

            negombotown on May 17, 2012:

            we love cricket


            anonymous on May 8, 2012:

            I liked going to one day cricket matches, I liked the faster pace of the game compared to test matches. excellent information on the basics of cricket.

            sheilamilne from kent, united kingdom on April 27, 2012:

            I can finally send my American friends somewhere to learn all about it. I tried to explain but ended up baffling them.

            cricandcric1557 on April 23, 2012:

            This is the best article I’ve seen on this topic. I’ll be linking and linking to this one for a long time.

            henkwillemse on April 7, 2012:

            great post, there are a couple of people I’d like to show it to.

            anthony godinho of ontario, canada on march 21, 2012:

            Cricket is one of my favorite sports and we used to play it a lot when I was a teenager. I prefer it to sports like baseball because there is a lot of variation, both in bowling and hitting.

            julieannbrady on March 4, 2012:

            Well, I always wondered what it was about cricket that made it so appealing. now, I think I know!

            anonymous on February 19, 2012:

            Please also visit our website: for the latest results

            allenshapiro on February 06, 2012:

            I love the humor and wit of cricket. check out my goal for tons of cricket laughs 🙂

            goo2eyes lm on January 28, 2012:

            I play softball and I think I can hit the ball with a flat mass.

            natalie w schorr on December 8, 2011:

            very complete lens!

            jacinto888 on November 29, 2011:

            excellent link, I never know how to play and this lens provides an excellent explanation

            scareyoudiva on October 25, 2011:

            excellent explanation! I always wondered how cricket worked. I really want to see it and really understand what is happening now. thanks

            shivani09 lm on October 13, 2011:

            interesting lens!

            popartgirl on September 3, 2011:

            great lens – I love cricket!

            pramodbisht on June 19, 2011:

            good lens

            humzayunas on June 17, 2011:

            cricket is a very good game and I like cricket

            anansigirls lm on May 30, 2011:

            Nice try, but I’m still no wiser. A few years ago I went to a picnic where they were missing a player and asked a friend of mine, who had no clue about cricket, to fill in for me. they gave him a bat and someone told him: now every time someone throws a ball to you, you just hit it. apparently it worked (the picnic was suddenly extended to 8 hours). and that’s all i know about cricket. however, I had fun reading the lens.

            sandypeaks on May 28, 2011:

            very useful lens, very well explained. she used to play women’s cricket once.

            anonymous on May 13, 2011:

            Now I feel better prepared for cricket, there is less chance of people making fun of it.

            variety writer2 on March 16, 2011:

            blessed by an angel squid 🙂

            cliveanderson lm on March 6, 2011:

            I’ll be honest…I’m not a huge fan, but maybe that was because my geeks, like so many others, didn’t know the full rules of the game. Thanks to your lens now I understand it better and I will probably enjoy the game a lot more… thanks for sharing,

            Best regards,


            vicki from usa. uu. on March 3, 2011:

            I’m not a fool. I’m an idiot. I didn’t know anything about cricket, but now I know a little. thanks for explaining! nice, well presented lens! ~vicky~

            just2011 on February 02, 2011:

            a good & compact lens on cricket.

            huvalbd on December 04, 2010:

            I moved to England from the US and until now cricket has been a complete mystery to me. thanks for helping me start to understand.

            sallemange on November 18, 2010:

            When you’re in you try to stay in and not get out while the team outside tries to get in and get you out. this is complicated by the totally arbitrary ‘leg before the wicket’ rule

            anonymous on November 17, 2010:

            well explained about the basic concepts

            sukkran trichy from trichy/tamil nadu on 28th October 2010:

            very detailed information. well presented lens.

            regregerson on October 28, 2010:

            great lens. thanks!

            zazzleenchante on October 20, 2010:

            a very informative and well researched lens! I loved reading it!

            paula morgan from sydney australia on october 5, 2010:

            big goal: more of the world should play cricket! blessed by an angel

            yourshowman lm on September 27, 2010:

            great lens

            I love cricket. i’m off roader your lens helped to know more tips and tricks about my favorite game

            louisadembul on September 18, 2010:

            I was starting to get the hang of it towards the end!

            reasonable robby on September 17, 2010:

            I live near trent bridge in nottingham. played for school cricket team, pretty good bowler, lousy batsman. You’ve done a good job explaining this strange game!

            chrisqw (author) on September 16, 2010:

            thank you for the kind comments. I’m glad it made cricket at least a little more understandable!

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