Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cricket, lovely cricket

[Guest post by A.A.A.]

The players: two teams of eleven men, made up of roughly equal numbers of specialist batsmen and bowlers with perhaps an all-rounder, plus a wicket keeper. Whereas only 4 or 5 players will bowl, all are expected to take their turn batting. The bowlers appear late in the batting order and rather tend to fancy themselves as batsmen.

Photo from flickr user kadj.

The field: a roughly oval field with a boundary often marked by a rope. In the centre is the pitch, a rectangular area 22 yards long with wickets at each end. The wickets consist of three uprights, the stumps, with two bails balanced across the top.

Photo from flickr user shimgray.

The game: consists of one innings per side for one day matches, or two innings per side for county or test (international) matches. The aim is to score runs. The fielding team has all eleven players on the field and the batting side has two batsmen, one at each wicket. The bowlers bowl six balls (called an over) from each end. The batsmen can score by running between the wickets, or by hitting the ball so that it reaches the boundary. If the ball touches the ground before it reaches the boundary the batsman scores four runs. If it clears the boundary it is six runs. An over without runs is a maiden over. The batsman can be out by being caught, by having the bails knocked off his wicket, or being hit leg before wicket.

Clear so far?

Diagram from Wikimedia.

The fielding positions: these names give rise to much hilarity and mirth. They aren’t fixed positions. Apart from the wicket keeper and bowler, you can take your choice from, and not limited to:
Silly mid-on
An almost infinite number of slips or a leg slip
Square leg
Backward short leg
Fine leg
Long leg
Third man
Extra cover

I could go on, but you get the picture.

If anyone has any questions, do leave them in the comments. I probably won't answer.


  1. Thank you A. I won't make the mistake of comparing it to baseball. There are no comparisons or similarities. Cricket was obviously invented as a joke by some drunken soldiers who were simply trying to make up an outrageous random "game" with as many variants and illogical "laws" as they could think of. Quite juvenile when you think of it, no?

    They succeeded. As I've long expected, there is no rhyme or reason to cricket whatsoever. Plus, if you are wealthy, there is probably a university you can attend in order to learn how to "play" this "game". 2 years minimum, for sure.

    A few questions, however. In addition to the 22 players on the field, are there also some sort of umpires or referees? 16 or 20? May the spectators wander amongst the players? Since you have 2 batters facing each other, do the wounded simply remain lying on the pitch? Or are they periodically dragged off? Are refreshments served to the distant players? Or are they allowed to have hand-held games to play while waiting? I notice in one of the pictures that there appears to be a crowd of spectators off to one side in the rear--is there a horse race going on to amuse the spectators? Or must they simply sit there and watch this nonsense? Are there other amusements that you failed to mention?. Can spectators throw things on the field of play?

    Apparently the players are allowed to actually touch the ball with their hands. This is a positive step, an obvious improvement over your handicapped version of "football".

    But I will wait for part two, hoping there may be SOME sort of action before this is over. :)

  2. That is so confusing, my head is ready to explode. And here I thought American football was complicated.

    I'm going back to my studio and watch something soothing while I paint. Oooh, Battlestar Galactica reruns!

  3. It is actually quite simple. One batsman faces one bowler and he tries to score some runs and the other guys try to help the bowler get him out. There are only two umpires and 13 players on the field at any one time.

  4. Good post. I know about cricket from some movie I watched once. It had some Indian guys in it. Anyone know the name of it?

  5. Great post. :-) Glad someones tried to clear this up for the Yanks. lol. Now we just need to prove to them the joys of sitting in Headingly or Old Trafford for 5 days getting Drunk.

  6. Gawd I couldn't be more bored than if I was watching a Nascar race.....

  7. I won't presume speak for the author of this post, but since it's my blog, let me at least thank all of you for your comments.

    @Kelly-so good to see your name here again. Thank you.

    @Colin-Always a pleasure. And, strangely, your simple explanation cleared some of the confusion away for me. At least now I can concentrate on the object of the game instead of being distracted by all the other things that come with it. I am not quite ready to admit to it being simple, though. I hope you will stick around to read the second part of my friend's post.

    @acadia-(what a great name, incidentally. Are you acadian? Such sobriquets are seldom random.) Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I don't know the movie you mention. Perhaps someone else will see your comment and tell us about it.

    @inquisitor goody-(another great name today!) Some of us Yanks are interested, to varying degrees, although it is hard to really get into something you will almost surely never see played and never play yourself. So it is easy for us to just throw our hands up with the seeming complexity of cricket. Obviously, I have my own reasons for wanting to know something about it, since I am trying to write a book (which has long-since evolved from just another British slang dictionary to a book that will try to discuss the larger British culture), but, damn, Mr. goody—5 days??? I think not.

    @Petra-My new friend. Showing her loyalty by making comments. Don't think I don't appreciate it. But Petra, if I could be so bold, could you try to be a little more direct and not hide your true feelings so much? You leave me wondering about how you actually feel about cricket. (And please don't desert me—you will have the chance to learn about Donkey-dropper Bowling and Cheese Rolling soon.) And there will be some new drinking games for you to try. Plus, I think I shall put up some mild porn in the ladies room over at the pub for for my female clientele's amusement. Hang in there, Petra, okay? Give me a chance here. :) :)

  8. I only enjoy cricket if I have a drink in my hand and my ipod with some real entertainment on it... I like most sports but cricket leaves me cold, it is such a slow game best left to the supporters who can slow their lives down to the games level.. mind you I have yet to understand the game of baseball.. just as confusing and seemingly endless.

  9. Sage, I have learned to resist the temptation to compare the two sports. Other than both being played on grass, the only main similarities appear to be (1) it is a good place to drink beer, and (2) you always soon seem to wish you were somewhere else.

    The major attraction of going to a baseball park in America is that they bring the beer to you where you sit, so there is no walking involved on your part. Except in the later innings...

    That said, baseball is an EXTREMELY fun game to PLAY - to participate in personally. Perhaps that is why people still go to watch it when they get older. Cricket might also be fun to play.



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