The rules of cricket

The game

Cricket is a ball sport that is played between two teams. The aim of the game is to score as many points (runs) as possible.

The parties both get one at bat, in which all eleven batsmen can hit in succession, until they are ‘out’.

The party in the field must try to get the batsmen out for the lowest possible score. When all the batsmen of the batting party are ‘out’ (all out), the innings are over. Then the field party (fieldende party) gets to work (bat) to try to make one more run than the first-batting party.

If the first-batting team has made 250 runs, the second-line team must make 251 runs to win. If the batsmen are thrown out sooner, the first party to bat wins.

The batting-turn of one party is called an innings. In contrast to baseball, the word ‘innings’ is only used in the plural in cricket.

The field

Cricket field

The game is played on a large field of short-cut grass, usually round or oval, with an area that can vary from two to several soccer fields. The field is bordered around by a boundary, sometimes a drawn lime line, sometimes a long rope, boards or a fence.

The pitch is in the middle of the field: a rectangle with a width of approximately two meters and a length of more than twenty meters. In the countries where professional cricket is played, this pitch is made of grass, in the Netherlands a long coconut mat or a strip of artificial grass on a gravel floor.

There is a wicket at both ends of the pitch. It consists of three posts (stumps) next to each other, where a cricket ball cannot pass in between. The cricket ball is about as large and hard as a hockey ball. There are two cross bars on the three stumps. The wickets are twenty meters apart.

The match

Before the game, the toss determines which party may decide on first failing or first batting.

The team that starts batting first sends two batsmen into the field. The rest waits outside the field until it is their turn. The batsmen have a cricket bat made of wood with which they can hit the ball.

The fieldende party goes into the field with all eleven players. Just as with baseball, the fielders are scattered throughout the playing field.

The two batsmen both go to a wicket.

At the field match, one of the fielders, the pitcher (bowler, photo on the right), starts the game by throwing the ball from one wicket to another. The batsman at the other end of the pitch, who gets the ball thrown at him, must ensure that the ball does not hit his wicket. The batsman standing at the wicket from where the bowler is bouncing the ball does not participate in the game until a run has to be run.

The bowler basically lets the ball bounce just before the receiving batsman can hit him with his cricket bat. The impact on the ground makes it harder to hit the ball. There are different types of bowlers: fast bowlers that bow hard, and slow bowlers or spin bowlers, who throw the ball less hard, but with effect (spin).

If the receiving batsman hits the ball into the field, he can try to run one or more runs. To complete a run, both batsman must run to the opposite wicket, over a distance of twenty meters. Along the way they cross each other. If they have come across without the ball being stopped by one of the fielders and thrown back from the field to one of the wickets, the batsmen (together) have run one run. If the ball is hit further into the field, they may also decide to run two runs. In addition, they tap the ground with their bat and run back to the wicket.

With two runs, the batsmen cross each other twice, and the batsman who has thrown the ball away again. If only one run is run, the batsmen cross each other once, and the batsman is hit who was first on the wicket from which the bowler had thrown the ball. So the batsmen always bathe in pairs.

If the batsman hits the ball over the boundary, he gets four runs without the batsmen having to run a run. If he hits the ball out of the field in one go, without the ball on the ground, the batting party gets six runs without the batsmen having to walk for it. (see the photo of the happy audience after a ‘six’)

Bowlers must ensure that the ball is bowled so that the batsman can reasonably hit it. If it deviates too far, the umpire can give a wide: the battling game gets a ‘free’ run, without running, and the ball must be bowled again.

If the batsman has hit the ball with his bat, but the ball is hit straight to a fielder, he does not have to walk. If the batsmen think that they will not make it across the street before the fielder has thrown the ball back to the wicket, they will in principle not attempt to run.

A batsman does not have to hit the ball. He can run as many balls as he wants. He only runs the risk that the ball will hit his wicket. And if he doesn’t hit the ball, he won’t score runs. If he lets the ball go and the wicket is not hit, he is caught by the wicket keeper, the back catcher. This fielder is the only one who can wear gloves.


If the ball does hit the wicket (photo on the right), the batsman is out. In cricket jargon: a wicket has fallen.

A wicket also falls if the ball is caught by a fielder; the batsman is therefore out.

Another common way of going out is run out, comparable with ‘firing’ at the ball. That happens when the batsmen try to run a run, but one of the two arrives late at the opposite wicket. One of the fielders then has to throw the ball from the field against one of the two wickets, before the batsman who has to go over a limescale drawn on the ground near the wicket.

There are even more ways to go out. Another well-known way is ‘leg before wicket’ (LBW), which means that the ball hits the batsman’s leg, while it would probably have hit the wicket. The umpire then decides on a question from the bowler (How’s that?) Whether the batsman is LBW or not.

The bowler may play six balls in a row. A series of six balls is called an over.

After an over, another bowler starts bowling from the other wicket, again a series of six balls. All field players can go bowling. The only restriction is that a bowler may not bow two overs after each other. In practice, a cricket team usually uses five or six bowlers. A team generally consists of five batsmen, a wicket-keeper and five bowlers, but there are also all-rounders who specialize in both bowling and batten.

It depends on the type of cricket how many overs are being bowled. In most one-day games, each battling game may in principle hit 50 overs (of six balls each), so a total of three hundred balls. If the batting party is blown out in its entirety earlier, the innings lasts less than 50 overs.

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