Cricket is a team sport that originated in the United Kingdom and is popular mainly in the countries of the Commonwealth. In many, it is the major summer sport.

Table of contents
1 Description of grounds and positions
2 Structure of a match
3 Dismissal of a batsman
4 Scoring
5 Laws of cricket
6 Conduct
7 Forms of cricket
8 Countries participating in international cricket
9 Governance of cricket
10 Structure of international cricket
11 Structure of domestic cricket
12 Cricket statistics
13 Famous cricketers
14 Writers and commentators
15 Other commentators
16 See also
17 External links

Description of grounds and positions

The game is played between two competing teams of eleven players on each side, on a large expanse of (usually grassy), oval-shaped ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the grounds, but most international-standard grounds are considerably larger in area than a soccer pitch. The teams are usually comprised of players with a mixture of abilities, some who specialise in batting, some in bowling, occasionally some who excel in both capacities, and one highly specialist player who acts as 'wicket-keeper'. In the centre of the ground is a length of close-cut, heavily rolled grass, called the wicket or the pitch (some club cricket is played on wickets made from synthetic grass). At each end of the wicket are placed three sticks adjacent to each other in an upright position: these are the stumps. They are separated by a gap not greater than the diameter of a cricket ball. On top of each set of stumps are placed two smaller sticks, or bails, forming what is known as a set of stumps or a wicket (note, then, that there are two definitions of wicket!). The regulation distance between the sets of stumps is 22 yards. A chalk outline drawn on the pitch is called a crease. The crease in front of each set of stumps and is the popping crease. Another crease is drawn so that the stumps pass through it; this crease is the "bowling crease." Finally, a "return crease" is drawn on each side of the stumps along the sides of the pitch.

The game is refereed by two on-field umpiress who can at times refer decision to a third umpire who has the aid of television replays. See fielding positions in cricket.

Structure of a match

The length of games can vary in duration of time (most games last either one day or three to five days), and number of balls bowled. Batsmen play in pairs, each equipped with a bat, one at each end of the wicket. The team that scores the most runs wins the match.

The match is divided into innings. In each innings (the word is both the singular and plural) one team bats (this team is in, and it is their innings) and the other fields. The object for the batting side is to score the highest number of runs (points) before the fielding side have dismissed them. The object for the fielding side is to dismiss the batsmen for as low a score as possible. The batting side has two men in at once (this is the batting pair, one at each end of the wicket. To get the team all out, therefore, the fielding team needs to dismiss ten of them, the remaining player being called the not out.

Each innings is subdivided into overs, which consist of six balls (previously, when each country could decide the length of the over, overs varied in length from four to eight balls) bowled to one end of the wicket. At the end of an over, the fielding team must switch bowlers and bowl to the other end of the wicket, and hence to the other member of the batting pair.

A match may consist of one innings per team (typically in one-day or limited overs cricket) or two (as in county or international test-match cricket).

Dismissal of a batsman

Dismissal of the batsmen, also known as taking a wicket or getting the batsman out, can occur in a number of ways.

The aforementioned are the main ways to be out, though a batsman may also be out in certain rarer manners:
  • Hit wicket: If the batsman dislodges his own stumps with his body or bat, he is out.
  • Hit the ball twice: If the batsman hits the ball twice, he is out. But the second hit must be an actual hit; the batsman may stop the ball a second time by placing his bat; this action is often performed to stop the ball from hitting the stumps.
  • Handled the ball: If the batsman touches the ball with his hand for any purpose other than to, with the approval of the fielders, return the ball to the bowler, he is out. Only six batsman have been out handled the ball in the history of test cricket.
  • Obstructing the field: If the batsman, by action or by words, obstructs a fielder, then he is out. However, a batsman is allowed to obstruct the view of a fielder by standing in front of him. He may also stand in between the fielder and the stumps. The rule intends to prevent batsman from interfering with a fielder by, for instance, pushing him. Only one individual - England's Len Hutton - has ever been out obstructing the field in a test match.
  • Timed out: If a new player takes more than two minutes to enter the field of play after the previous batsman was ruled out, then the new player is out. In the case of extremely long delays, the umpires may forfeit the match to either team. This method of taking a wicket has never been employed in the history of test cricket.

Finally a player may be "retired, not out" (more commonly known as "retired hurt") in which case he still has the option to return after treatment, though he would have to wait for a teammate to be given out. The umpire has discretion over whether to allow a batsman to retire hurt. If a batsman still intends to go off the field without the umpire's consent, he may do so, but, he is "retired, out," and cannot return to the field of play.

The bowler only "gets credit" for bowled, leg before wicket, caught, stumped, and hit wicket. But, if the ball is a no ball, then the batsman cannot be out in any of these ways. The batsman can, however, be out run out, handled the ball, hit the ball twice, obstructing the field, or timed out on any ball.


"Runs" can be scored in a number of ways. The batsman gets credit for "runs scored off his bat." A batsman who scores 100 runs in an innings is said to have scored a century, a respectable achievement in cricket. Similarly, players can score double centuries, triple centuries, quadruple centuries (never achieved in test cricket), or quintuple centuries (only achieved once in first class cricket). The batsman gets credit for runs scored as follows:

Runs can be accrued through the failure of the bowler to correctly deliver the ball.

Laws of cricket

The laws of cricket are a set of rules framed by the Marylebone Cricket Club which serve to standardise the format of matches across the world to ensure uniformity and fairness.

Historically, they have always (since 1775) governed

  • Decision of who bats first: This has not changed much and has always been decided by the toss of a coin.
  • Dimensions of the pitch and location of popping crease.
  • Length of stumps and bails
  • Weight of cricket ball
  • Balls per over
  • No ball rule (illegal delivery)
  • Rules of dismissal of batsman
  • Time allowed for next batsman to come in after a dismissal

They were first printed in book form in 1775. The laws have changed a lot since then but the basic form of the game remains the same.

Important Historical changes to the laws



  • Length of stumps increased from 24 inches to 27 inches and bails from 7 inches to 8 inches. Thickness of stumps mentioned for first time.
  • "Throwing" mentioned for first time.


  • Number of players formalised for the first time (eleven).
  • Follow-on rule introduced.
  • Size of ball formalised for first time.


  • Length of an over increased from four balls to five balls.


  • Length of an over increased to six balls.


  • Variation allowed in the length of the over (Australian overs to be eight balls).


  • Length of an over to be six or eight balls according to "prior agreement" between the captains


  • Length of an over standardised at six balls for all matches.
  • Umpires allowed to award penalty runs for unfair play.

Today's laws

The Marylebone Cricket Club is the framer of the Laws of Cricket, the rules governing play of the game. The Laws are intended apply to all two innings matches; the International Cricket Council has implemented "Standard Playing Conditions for Test Matches" and "Standard Playing Conditions for One Day Internationals" to augment the Laws of Cricket. Similarly, each cricketing country has implemented Playing Conditions to govern domestic cricket. Note that the Laws do not provide for One Day or Limited Overs cricket; these modifications have been made by the Playing Conditions for One Day Internationals.

The Laws are organized into a Preface, a Preamble, forty-two Laws, and four appendices. The Preface relates to the Marylebone Cricket Club and the history of the Laws. The Preamble is a new addition and is related to "the Spirit of the Game;" it was introduced to discourage the increasing practices of ungentlemanly conduct. The Laws themselves deal with the following:

  • Law 1: The Players
  • Law 2: Substitutes
  • Law 3: The Umpires
  • Law 4: The Scorers
  • Law 5: The Ball
  • Law 6: The Bat
  • Law 7: The Pitch
  • Law 8: The Wickets
  • Law 9: Bowling, Popping, and Return Creases
  • Law 10: Preparation and Maintenance of the Playing Area
  • Law 11: Covering the Pitch
  • Law 12: Innings
  • Law 13: Follow-on
  • Law 14: Declaration and Forefiture
  • Law 15: Intervals
  • Law 16: Start of Play; Cessation of Play
  • Law 17: Practice on the Field
  • Law 18: Scoring Runs
  • Law 19: Boundaries
  • Law 20: Lost Ball
  • Law 21: The Result
  • Law 22: The Over
  • Law 23: Dead Ball
  • Law 24: No Ball
  • Law 25: Wide ball
  • Law 26: Bye and Leg Bye
  • Law 27: Appeals
  • Law 28: The Wicket is Down
  • Law 29: Batsman Out of his Ground
  • Law 30: Bowled
  • Law 31: Timed Out
  • Law 32: Caught
  • Law 33: Handled the Ball
  • Law 34: Hit the Ball Twice
  • Law 35: Hit Wicket
  • Law 36: Leg Before Wicket
  • Law 37: Obstructing the Field
  • Law 38: Run Out
  • Law 39: Stumped
  • Law 40: The Wicket-keeper
  • Law 41: The Fielder
  • Law 42: Fair and Unfair Play

The four appendices to the laws are as follows:
  • Appendix A: Specifications and diagrams of stumps and bails
  • Appendix B: Specifications and diagrams of the pitch and creases
  • Appendix C: Specifications and diagrams of gloves
  • Appendix D: Definitions


The sport of cricket requires gentlemanly conduct from all players. Under the ICC regulations, players may be fined a percentage of the salary, banned for number of matches, or even banned for a number of years or life. The ICC appoints a Match Referee for each Test match and One-day International; the Referee has the power to set penalties for most offences, the exceptions being the more serious ones. The following are the general categories of serious offences, carrying the highest penalties:

  • Gambling on matches (Betting)
  • Failing to perform in a match in return for a benefit, such as money or goods (match fixing).
  • Inducing a player to perform one of the above two actions
  • Failure to report certain incidents relating to match-fixing or gambling
  • Other related offences

Other offences are categorized as Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, or Level 4 as follows:

Level 1

  • Breach of the Logo Policy (except for a commercial logo or player's bat logo)
  • Abuse of equipment clothing, or any part of the ground
  • Showing dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or by action
  • Using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting
  • Excessive appealing
  • Aggressive pointing towards the pavilion by a member of the fielding side upon the dismissal of a batsman

Level 2

  • Repeat of any Level 1 Offence within 12 months
  • Showing serious dissent at an umpire's decision by word or action
  • Breach of the Logo Policy relating to a commercial logo or a player's bat logo
  • Public criticism of a match related incident or match official
  • Inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players during play
  • Aggressively charging towards an umpire while appealing
  • Deliberate distraction or obstruction on the field
  • Throwing the ball at a player, umpire or official in a dangerous manner
  • Using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or of a seriously insulting nature to another player, umpire, referee, team official or spectator.
  • Changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3
  • Any attempt to manipulate a match in regard to the result, net run rate, bonus points or otherwise. (Example: Intentionally losing so that a team will face a weaker opponent in the Finals.)

Level 3

  • Repeat of any Level 2 Offence within 12 months
  • Intimidation of an umpire or referee
  • Threat of assault on a player, team official, or spectator
  • Using language or gestures that offends race, religion, color, descent or national or ethnic origin

Level 4

  • Repeat for any Level 3 Offence within 12 months
  • Threat of assault on an umpire or referee
  • Physical assault of another player, umpire, referee, official or spectator
  • Any act of violence during play
  • Using language or gestures that seriously offends race, religion, color, descent or national or ethnic origin

The penalties available for each offence are based on the level. The penalties are as follows:
  • Level 1: Fine- 0% to 50% of match fee.
  • Level 2: Fine- 50% to 100% of match fee; Ban- 1 Test or 2 ODIs.
  • Level 3: Ban- 2 to 4 Tests or 4 to 8 ODIs.
  • Level 4: Ban- 5 Tests to Life or 10 ODIs to life.
Fines in Level 3 and 4 Offences are determined by the ICC without regard to match fee. Also, offences relating to gambling or match-fixing carry penalties of bans from 12 months to life, and also unlimited fines. Note: If an offence occurred in a Test match, then the ban for a number of tests applies. If an offence occurred in an ODI, then the ban for a number of ODIs applies.

Forms of cricket

Test cricket

The format "Test cricket" - a form of international cricket - started in 1877 during the 1876/77 English cricket team's tour of Australia. The first test match began on 15th March, 1877 and had a timeless format with 4 balls per over. It ended on 19th March, 1877 with Australia winning by 45 runs.

Since then, over 1000 test matches have been played and the number of test match playing teams has increased to 10 with the 10th international team making its debut in 2000. Test matches are now played continuously over a period of 5 days with no rest day.

Balls per over in test cricket

Modern day test cricket (since 1979/80) has been played all over the world with six balls per over. However, test cricket started with 4 balls per over and has had varying number of balls per over around the world upto 1979/80.

Balls per over

In England

  • 1880 to 1888: 4
  • 1890 to 1899: 5
  • 1902 to 1938: 6
  • 1939 : 8
  • 1946 to date: 6

In Australia
  • 1876/77 to 1887/88: 4
  • 1891/92 to 1920/21: 6
  • 1924/25 : 8
  • 1928/29 to 1932/33: 6
  • 1936/37 to 1978/79: 8
  • 1979/80 to date : 6

In South Africa
  • 1891/92 to 1898/99: 5
  • 1902/03 to 1935/36: 6
  • 1938/39 to 1957/58: 8
  • 1961/62 to date : 6

In New Zealand
  • 1929/30 to 1967/68: 6
  • 1968/69 to 1978/79: 8
  • 1979/80 to date : 6

In Pakistan
  • 1954/55 to 1972/73: 6
  • 1974/75 to 1977/78: 8
  • 1978/79 to date : 6

In India, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and United Arab Emirates (venue, not host) all test matches were played with 6 ball overs.

First-class cricket

First-class cricket is just like Test cricket, but it takes place over three days or more. Tests are technically first-class, but the term is usually used to describe domestic matches. Domestic competitions take place between regional, city, county, or state teams.

One-day cricket

Due to the growing demands of commercial television for a shorter and more "dramatic," form of cricket, the experiment of one-day cricket was introduced. In one-day cricket, each team bats for only one innings, and it is limited to a number of overs, usually fifty in international matches. Since spectators did not need to commit five days of their time, due to innovations such as matches at night under floodlights, as well as the colored clothing (opposed to the somber white uniforms of Test cricketers), and finally because of the greater sense of urgency in the new form of the game, one-day cricket has gained many supporters. Meanwhile, many traditionalists have objected that Test cricket involves more strategy and encompasses all the aspects of the game, while one-day cricket, by limiting the number of overs, puts an undue emphasis on the quick scoring of runs. One-day cricket is not classified as first-class.

List A cricket

List A cricket is to one-day cricket as first-class is to tests. Most cricketing nations have some form of domestic List A competition. The over limits range from forty to sixty. The categorization of "List A" is not one endorsed by the ICC; the Association of Cricket Historians and Statisticians created it for the purpose of providing a parallel to first-class cricket in their record books.

Club cricket

Club cricket is amateur, but still formal, cricket. The games are almost always Limited Overs, with each innings usually lasting between thirty and forty-five overs. Club cricket is played extensively in cricketing nations, and also by immigrants of cricketing nations. Club cricket often takes place on an artificial turf pitch, though the rest of actual field may be natural grass.

Beach cricket

"Beach cricket" is a term applied to all informal cricket, regardless of the actual location. The rules are often made up on the spot, and the subtle and complex laws of cricket, such as those involving Leg Before Wicket, penalty runs, and others, are ignored or modified.

Countries participating in international cricket

The Test (that is major international match) teams are, in order of receiving such status, Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. One nation, Kenya, has "one-day international status." While Kenya still cannot play test cricket, it is, like the test nations, exempt from qualifying tournaments for the World Cup Additionally, the various cricket events include teams from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Namibia, The Netherlands, Scotland, Singapore, and United States, although the game does not have a high profile in most of those countries.

Governance of cricket

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has always been the Framer of the Laws of Cricket. However, the International Cricket Council (ICC) regulates international cricket. Each cricketing nation also has a body that selects international teams for that country as well as governs domestic competition. The bodies in the test playing nations are:

  • England: England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)
  • Australia: Cricket Australia (CA)
  • South Africa: United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA)
  • West Indies: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB)
  • New Zealand: New Zealand Cricket (NZC)
  • India: Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)
  • Pakistan: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
  • Sri Lanka: Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL)
  • Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU)
  • Bangladesh: Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB)

The ICC appoints a Match Referee for each International match. The Match Referee has no power during the game; he is more of a disciplinary official. The Match Referee has the power to receive complaints from players, team officials, or umpires, hold hearings, fine players a percentage of the "match fee", or ban players for a limited number of matches. The Match Referee can also recommend a hearing by a higher panel, which can go as far as banning a player for life.

Structure of international cricket

General structure

International cricket has no fixed form or structure. However, it has always been traditional for the countries, without any interference from a body such as the ICC, to organize for themselves the various cricket matches. Most Test matches and One-Day series take place in the form of "tours." In a tour, one nation travels to another and plays warm-up matches, first-class matches against domestic teams such as county or state teams, a series of test matches against the host nation, and either a series of one-day matches against the host nation or a tournament involving the host nation and another touring nation. The "triangular tournament" format is often used when one tour is about to conclude and the other has just begun. In the tournament, the three teams play each other either two or three times. The two teams with the most points (usually two points for a win, one point for a no-result or tie, and no points for a loss) qualify for the one-game final.

The test series can last from one match (known as a "one-off match") to six matches. Six-match series are extremely rare. Most important series last five matches, while the less important ones last two to four matches. The length of the series is based on the home country's attitude towards the modern form of cricket, one-day internationals; traditional nations such as England and Australia usually organize five-match series, while one-day crazy nations such as India favour three-match series. At most, a perpetual trophy such as The Ashes (for England versus Australia) or the Frank Worrell Trophy (for Australia versus the West Indies) exists, with the trophy being awarded to the last team to win a series.

The One-day series lasts from three to seven matches. Usually, the shorter one-day series are played at the same time as longer test series. In addition to tours, nations may organize one-day matches at neutral venues. The Sahara Cup was a one-day series played annually between India and Pakistan in Toronto, until the Indian government ordered the suspension of most cricketing ties with Pakistan. Similarly, a semiannual Triangular Tournament was organized at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. The tournament almost always involved the traditional rivals India and Pakistan. However, the tournament has lost its luster due to the fact that the overwhelming number of cricket matches has spoiled the pitch. In contrast to the one-dayers, tests are never held in neutral venues. One notable recent exception occurred when Pakistan played some test matches in Sharjah; many other nations had decided to boycott Pakistani grounds due to violence, including bombings, that had occurred during a tour by the New Zealand cricket team.

In addition to the one-day series and tournaments organized by the nations themselves, the ICC organizes two tournaments. The World Cup is held every four years; it involves all the test playing nations, Kenya, and also a number of qualifying nations. The Champion's Trophy, also known as the ICC Knockout Cup, is held every four years in between World Cups. In the Champion's Trophy, a single loss eliminates a team from the tournament.

Test Championship

The ICC instituted the Test Championship table to permit fans to compare all the test teams. The Table is a running one, that is, whoever is on top at a certain time will formally hold the Test trophy. (The Table is not like a league standings table, where the top team at the end of a certain period of time becomes Champion.)

The calculations for the Table are performed as follows:

ODI Championship

The ODI (One Day International) championship was created for reasons similar to the Test one, and it has a similar structure. The championship does not replace the World Cup; the latter still carries much more significance to most cricket fans.

The calculations for the Table are performed as follows:

  • Each team scores points based on the results of their matches.
  • Each team's rating is equal to its total points scored divided by the total matches played. (Series are not significant in these calculations).
  • A match only counts if it was played in the last three years.
  • Matches played in the first year of the three-year limit count one-third; matches played in the second year count two-thirds; matches played in the last year count fully; essentially, recent matches are given more weightage.
  • To determine a team's rating after a particular match:
    • Determine the match result (win, loss, or tie)
    • Calculate the match points scored:
      • If the gap between the ratings of the two teams at the commencement of the match is less than 40 points, then:
        • The winner scores 50 points MORE than the opponent's rating
        • The loser scores 50 points LESS than the opponent's rating
        • Each team in a tie scores the opponent's rating
      • If the gap between the ratings of the two teams at the commencement of the match is more than or equal to 40 points, then :
        • The winner, if it is the stronger team, scores 10 points MORE than its own rating
        • The winner, if it is the weaker team, scores 90 points MORE than its own rating
        • The loser, if it is the stronger team, scores 90 points LESS than its own rating
        • The loser, if it is the weaker team, scores 10 points LESS than its own rating
        • The stronger team in a tie scores 40 points LESS than its own rating
        • The weaker team in a tie scores 40 points MORE than its own rating
    • Add the match points scored to the points already scored (in previous matches as reflected by the Table) and determine the new rating.

Structure of domestic cricket

In most nations, domestic cricket is more organized than international cricket. There are usually separate limited overs and first-class trophies. At some times, there may be more than one limited overs trophy. The teams are usually city, county, state, or other regional teams. However, at some times, "department teams," which are teams composed of employees of a certain institution, may play.

Cricket statistics

Cricket is a statistics-laden sport. The statistics of runs, no-balls, wide balls, byes, and leg byes are covered in the above section on the Structure of the Match and Scoring.

General statistics

  • Matches (Mat): Number of matches played
  • Catches (Ct): Number catches made
  • Stumped (St): Number of stumpings made

Batting statistics

  • Innings (I): Number of innings in which a batsman actually batted
  • Not Out (NO): Number of times a batsman was not out at the conclusion of an innings
  • Runs: Number of runs scored by a batsman
  • Highest Score (HS): Highest score ever made by the batsman
  • Average (Ave): Average number of runs scored, calculated by dividing the total number of runs by the total number of innings in which the batsman was out (Ave = Runs/[I - NO])
  • Centuries (100): Number of innings in which a batsman scored one hundred runs or more
  • Half-centuries (50): Number of innings in which a batsman scored fifty runs to ninety nine runs (centuries do not count as half-centuries as well)
  • Strike rate (SR): Rate at which runs are scored, calculated by dividing the total dividing one hundred times the runs scored by the number of balls received (SR = [100 * Runs]/Balls)

Bowling statistics

  • Balls: Number of balls bowled by a bowler
  • Maiden Overs (M): Number of maiden overs (overs in which the bowler conceded zero runs) bowled by a bowler
  • Runs: Number of runs conceded by a bowler
  • Wickets (W): Number of wickets taken by a bowler
  • Average (Ave): Average number of runs given up, calculated by dividing the total number of runs conceded by the total number of wickets taken (Ave = Runs/W)
  • Economy Rate (Econ): Average number of runs given up, calculated by dividing the total number of runs conceded by the total number of overs bowled (Ave = Runs/Overs)
  • Best: The innings in which the bowler took more wickets than he did in any other innings, and if the bowler took the same number of wickets on two or more occasions, then the innings in which he gave up fewer runs
  • Five-wicket hauls (5): The number of innings in which the bowler took at least five wickets.
  • Ten-wicket match hauls (10): The number of matches in which the bowler took at least ten wickets; test statistic only.
  • Strike rate (SR): The rate at which wickets are taken, calculated by dividing the total number of balls bowled by the total number of wickets taken (SR = Balls/ W)

Famous cricketers

Also see: List of cricketers

Writers and commentators

Note that in addition to those listed here, a number of famous players have had a second career as writers or commentators; Richie Benaud is a notable example.

Other commentators

Many commentators never played the game at a professional level, yet they have gone on to become famous names associated with the game. Henry Blofeld is a notable example.

See also

External links

Origins and derivations of common cricket terms and expressions