Understanding Cricket: The Basics of the Game

Cricket is a game of bat and ball, which is played between 2 teams of 11 players each. It is played on a pitch 22 yards long in the center of an oval field. Both teams take turns to bat, scoring as many runs as possible, while the other team fields. These turns are known as innings.

With over 120 million players worldwide, it is the second most widely-played sport. The earliest mention of cricket goes back to the 16th century, when it was known as ‘creckett’.

Elements of Cricket

The main elements of this sport are as following:

The Cricket Field


Cricket is played on an oval field with a pitch or wicket in the center. Wickets/stumps are fixed on both ends of the pitch and they determine the position of the bowler and the batsman.

The Teams

The two teams will have 11 members each. Only 2 players of the batting team will remain on the pitch at a time. The other team, in its full strength, fields and bowls and attempts to stop the opposition from scoring runs.


Each innings is broken into a limited or unlimited number of ‘overs’. Each over represents 6 times bowling the ball. One entire ‘over’ is balled by a single bowler.

Understanding Cricket: The Basics of the Game

The batting team will attempt to protect the stumps while trying to score as many runs as possible. One batsman will defend the stumps at any given time. He faces the bowler and is said to be on strike. He will try to score runs by hitting the ball off to the oval boundary/perimeter or by running up and down the pitch after hitting the ball. Both the batsmen will run to the opposite stumps and cross the crease to complete a run, thus alternating the striking position. If the batsman hits the ball all the way to the boundary it will earn him and the team 4 runs. If he hits it over the boundary, it is counted as 6 runs.

The fielding team’s goal is to get the batting team out and keep the score to the minimum using a number of methods. They are focused on running the batsmen out by hitting the stumps with ball before a batsman crosses the crease, catching a ball hit by the batsman, or by hitting and dismantling the stumps when bowling. There are many other ways a batsman can get out.

Game Formats

Typically, there are two major formats of cricket. Test cricket is the longer format. It has 2 innings each for each team and can last for up to 5 days. Generally, there is no limit on the number of overs. In ‘one-day’ format, each team will have a single innings each, and each innings will have fixed number of overs.


Three umpires adjudicate a game of cricket. Two umpires will stand on the field while the third umpire monitors the game from outside the boundary using sophisticated technology equipment. The game will also have a match referee who determines any penalties for misconduct or breach of rules.


Despite its intricacies, cricket is a simple and thrilling sport. Records are made in the number of runs scored by a batsman, the number of players bowled out by a bowler, and the number of catches made by fielders. A general cricket world cup event takes place every four years. In test matches, players traditionally wear white to reflect the summer rays.

Cricket has worked its way into every day language with expressions like “sticky wicket”, “bowled over”, and the ultimate for when something is not fair, “That’s not cricket”.