Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cricket basics

People often ask me why don’t you write stories on cricket…something like the cover stories. I did get encouragements from people around as I have grown up playing cricket, it almost resides in my blood & secondly I have got fair bit of knowledge about cricket and writing is my passion. Being an Indian I don’t have to describe much about cricket to any Indian as cricket is often referred as a synonym to a religion in India. Viewing to the fact that my blogs are now popular in many countries across the globe where cricket is still in early stages. I think I am privileged to share my knowledge and experience to everybody.
Recently I came across to a kid of 9 years and asked him about our national game. Without any hesitation that guy quite confidently told me that cricket is the national game of India & animatedly started explaining me about the sport. But as we all know cricket is certainly not the national game of India, India’s national game is hockey. I don’t blame the kid for giving me that answer as you will hardly find anybody playing hockey but you can easily see kids from the age of 5 playing cricket on every nook and corner of India. You would be glad to know more than 60% of Indian kids below the age of 10 think cricket is the national game of India.
There are 3 aspects of cricket batting, bowling and fielding. A cricket squad consists of 11 players much like the other sports it is played between two teams. A toss amongst the captain of the two respective teams decides which team to bat and which will bowl. Cricket is played on a circular ground the length and width of the ground may vary but the pitch which is situated at the centre of the ground is fixed to 22 yards which corresponds to 20.1 meters. Across the 22 yards 3 wickets and 2 stumps are placed parallel to one another. Let’s start about the basics
Bowling: A bowler bowls from one of the end of the 22 yard pitch and the batsman bats at the other end of the 22 yards. Much like the baseball there are ways in which a player can be judged out (has to leave the field). The most prominent ways of getting a batsman out is 1) bowled-where the bowler hits the wicket with the ball as the batsman couldn’t make contact with the ball with his bat. 2) Caught- where the batsman hits the ball in the air is caught by the player placed inside the boundary. 3) Run out- where the batsman fails to reach the other end of the pitch of 22 yards before the fielder who gathers the ball and hits the wicket. 4) leg before wicket(lbw) where the batsman is adjudged to be out by the umpires citing the condition, batsman’s body is in the line of the wicket when the ball hits his leg and not the bat.(obviously there are various rules of lbw, the ball hitting the leg (point of contact) should not be above the height of the wicket) 5)hit wicket- where the batsman hits the wicket instead of the ball 6) time out- where the batsman fails to enter the ground within the stipulated period 7) obstructing the fielder-the batsman is adjudged out by the umpires if the ball thrown by the Players(fielders) is obstructed by the batsman where the umpire thinks the ball is going to hit the wicket. 8) Handling the ball- the batsman is adjudged out by the umpires if the ball which is going to the wicket is handled or in other words obstructed by the batsman by holding the ball with his hand.
Bowling penalties: Talking of the bowlers there are various ways in which a bowler can bowl a ball ranging from pace (fast ball) and spin. There are penalties if a bowler fails to bowl a legitimate delivery such as crossing the bowling crease while delivering a ball and is called a ‘no ball’. The penalties of a no ball vary from test and the shorter versions. In the test cricket the bowler is penalized where he had to re-ball the ball with 1 run awarded to the batting side. In the shorter versions not only the bowler had to re-ball the ball with a penalty of 1 run and additional penalty is given to the fielding team i.e. they cannot get the batsman out the very next ball of the bowler except if the batsman is run out. Thus a batsman cannot get out on a ‘no ball’ (with the exception of a run out).If the bowler bowls a ball which is far from the reach of the batsman, is referred to as a ’wide’ ball. The batting team gets a bonus of one run with a penalty to the bowler that he had to re-ball the ball. If the bowler bowls a ball direct above the waist of the batsman on the full (a delivery follower of base ball must be well acquainted with) is termed as a ‘no ball’ & the batting team is awarded 1 run. If the bowler wants to bowl above the waist he can do so only after pitching it short on the playing area, but if the ball is above the head height after a bounce, it is again termed as a ‘wide’ and the penalty of 1 run added to the batting score while a ball above the neck and below the head is called a ‘bouncer’ and a bowler can bowl 2 bouncers in an over in the longer version of cricket(test cricket) but can only bowl a single bouncer in an over in the shorter versions (one day and 20-20 cricket)
Batting: there are various ways through which a batsman can score runs for himself and the team, If the batsman hits the ball out of the ground (i.e. the balls doesn’t land inside the boundary and it goes out of the boundary in a single go) the batsman is awarded 6 points and this point is called runs i.e. 6 runs. If the batsman hits the ball and it crosses the fence after at least a single drop within the field, he is awarded 4 runs. If the ball after being hit by the batsman is within the boundary & it’s up to the batsman how many times they cross the 22 yard pitch. If they cross once they are awarded 1 run, if they cross twice they are given 2 runs and the pattern continues. Each batsman gets only one chance to bat in an innings. If gets out, he cannot bat again in that inning. As there are 11 players in each team, a maximum of 10 players can be out in an inning. 2 players come to bat at the same time (one bats and the other stands on the other side at the bowling crease if a single run is scored by a batsman the batter runs to the bowling crease and the other batter who was earlier at the bowling crease runs to the other end and reaches the batting crease and now it’s his turn to bat.) the moment 10 batsman are out means the 11 the person is left alone. It means the entire team is out as the 11th person cannot bat alone. The batsman can rotate the strike (giving chance to the other batsman to bat) by running 1 run or 3 runs. If the two batsmen runs 2 run that means at first the batsman runs to the bowling crease indicating one run and then he runs back to the batting crease indicating he has run 2 (unlike the base ball where 1 run is given only if the batter crosses all the four bases in cricket one run is awarded only if they reach from the batting end to the bowling end without being run out at the same time the batsman at the bowling end has to reach the batting end indicating the two batsman had run 1 run similarly if the two batsman cross twice then 2 runs are awarded to the batting team and if they cross thrice 3 runs are awarded to the batting team)
Fielding: there are 11 players one of them will bowl that means the rest 10 players from the bowling team will be on the field fielding. One player would be guarding the ball behind the wickets of the batting crease and is called ‘wicket keeper’. The rest 9 players are placed in the field to stop the ball from going to the boundary. There are no such fielding restrictions in the longer version of cricket( test cricket) the 9 players( except the bowler and the wicket keeper) can be placed anywhere on the field. But there are certain fielding restrictions in the shorter versions of the cricket I have discussed about the fielding restrictions on the latter half.
These were just the basics about cricket…I know there are many more rules ranging from type of ball used, weight of the ball, height of the wickets, length and width of the bat…there are many more things but I am only concerned about the basics…the knowledge after which one can play cricket and if you are not a player you can watch it over your television sets and enjoy the game.

Talking of the international standards cricket played across the globe is of three forms 1) test cricket 2) one day cricket 3) twenty-twenty cricket.
Test cricket is the oldest form of cricket and it is played for 5 days at a stretch. 90 overs to be bowled per day (over-in an over a bowler bowls 6 times i.e. he bowls 6 balls to the batsman). Each team gets the chance of batting and bowling twice during the interval of 5 days. It’s always easier to make people understand with examples so I would be taking few examples to make it easier for people to understand. Suppose team batting first scores 200 runs with his entire batsman out. Then only the other team gets the chance to bat(there is also a rule of declaring suppose a team scores 400 runs with its 8 batsman out wishes not to bat any more they can do so in that case the other team comes on to bat). Suppose the second team scores 250 in response to 200 with all batsman out the second team gets a lead of 50 runs. The first team has to chase down the 50 runs then they will look for lead. Suppose the 1st team scores 300 runs. That means their total score is 200(in 1st inning) + 300(in second inning)= 500 runs. The second team gets to bat have to score 251 runs to win as they have already scored 250(in 1st innings)+251(in 2nd innings)= 501. As such if the 2nd team scores 251 with even 9 wickets (batsman) out wins the test match. Test match is often referred to a test of skill, character and patience as there is no limited overs a batman can play or a bowler can bowl. They can play the entire 5 day if they wish to (condition a batsman doesn’t get out). Since it is played for 5 days and is much time consuming as such shorter versions have evolved.
One day cricket: it has evolved from the test cricket; much like the football and other world cups cricket world cup also features a number of teams. Cricket world cup is played for the one day format ( 50 over) and the twenty-twenty format(20 over). Unlike the test cricket where teams have to bat twice in 5 days, in One day cricket they can only bat once in 50 (50* 6 =300 balls as there are 6 balls in one over) overs. As we know there is no over restrictions in test cricket but in one day cricket a team can bat a maximum of 50 overs. The team which scores more runs in those 50 overs win. One day cricket has evolved over the years with its rules. The first world cup played in 1975 was of 60 overs. Now it is fixed to 50 overs. There are also rules of the fielding restrictions and bowling restrictions in one day cricket, as only 2 players can be outside the 30 meter circle (fielding) during the mandatory first 10 over power play, and a maximum of 3 players outside the 30 meter circle during the batting and bowling power play of 5 overs each. Each bowler can bowl at most of 10 overs ( i.e 10* 6 = 60 balls) in a one day cricket. This form of cricket is called one day cricket as it is played within a day. Since 50 overs also is time consuming. As both teams bats for 50 overs means 100 overs in a day which takes around 7 to 7 and half hours therefore the shorter format I.e the twenty-twenty cricket evolved from the one day cricket.
Twenty-twenty cricket: twenty-twenty international has recently evolved with its first world cup played in 2007 where India lifted the trophy. This format of cricket is much more action packed then the test or the one day cricket as it is of only 20 overs and the entire 40 overs (including both sides batting quota) finishes within 3 hours as such This form of cricket has effectively influenced the people to come to the stadiums to watch a cricket match then to go to the multiplexes to see a Bollywood movie (which is also of duration of 2 and half hours on an average). The core of this format remains the same that is the teams which scores more runs in those 20 overs wins the match. The bowling and fielding restrictions do vary from the 50 over cricket. There is no batting or the bowling power play but a mandatory 6 over power play where only 2 fielders can be outside the 30 meter circle. A bowler can bowl a maximum of 4 over in a 20-20 cricket. It is of 20 overs ie 120 balls we tend to see more of 4’s and 6’s in a match which on a spectator point of view is quite exciting.
People often tell me my blogs are often very long…that’s the reason I have tried to summarize the entire cricket basics to a smaller length. I agree that a blog is inappropriate to effectively visualize and make a person understand and follow cricket and I should rather write books or journals on cricket. So friends across the globe you are free to ask me anything regarding cricket and I hope I would be able to spread my knowledge and increase its popularity in far distant countries…signing out as of now…!!!

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