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Cricket (sport)

Cricket is a team sport that originated in the United Kingdom and is extremely popular mainly in the countries of the Commonwealth.

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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. The regulation distance between the sets of stumps is 22 yards. A chalk outline is drawn in front of each set of stumps and is called a 'crease'. The game is refereed by two umpires. See fielding positions in cricket.

Structure of a Match and Scoring

The length of games can vary in duration of time (most games last either one or 3-5 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 (or eight, almost obsolete now) bowls 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).

Runs can be scored in a number of ways: each time that the batting pair is able to run between the wickets after a ball has been bowled (and before the stumps are or potentially can be touched with the ball) a run is scored. If the ball travels outside of the playing area, and it has touched the ground prior to leaving the playing area, 4 runs are scored. If the ball does not touch the ground on its way out, 6 runs are scored. A batsman who scores 100 runs in an inning is said to have scored a century, a respectable achievement in cricket.

Additionally, runs can be accrued through the failure of the bowler to correctly deliver the ball; either through an incorrect bowling action (the arm should be kept straight) or through overstepping the line of the wicket with the back foot or the crease with the front before releasing the ball, either of which is deemed a no-ball, or through the ball being delivered too wide for the batsman to strike it, known as a wide (the definition of what counts as wide is far more strict in a limited overs match, because bowling unplayable balls would be a way to "waste" the batting team's innings). The number of runs accrued can be affected by where the ball ends up; a no-ball which crosses the boundary will count for 4 runs (however the recent rule changes allow for an extra run to be granted for the no-ball in addition to the runs scored either off the bat or otherwise). Additionally, any balls which are deemed foul have to be bowled again by the same bowler before his over is complete.

Dismissal of the batsmen can occur in a number of ways. The batsman facing the bowler can be bowled out, i.e. the ball will hit the stumps without him being able to prevent it. If the batsman strikes the ball with the bat and it is caught by the bowler or one of the bowler's side who are dotted around the ground to field the ball before it hits the ground, then he is caught out. A batsman can also be stumped by the specially equipped wicket-keeper, a player who stands immediately behind the batsman to retrieve balls coming through from the bowler, if the batsman steps in front of the crease leaving no part of his anatomy or the bat behind, and the wicket keeper is able to remove the bails from the wicket with the ball. Similarly either batsman can be run-out if a fielder uses the ball to remove the bails from either set of stumps whilst they are running between the wickets (or otherwise away from the crease during the course of play). The batsman nearest the set from which the bails were removed is given out. If the batsman has any part of his body or his bat (if he's holding it) on the ground behind the line of the crease, then he cannot be run out; frequently it is a close call whether or not a batsman gained his ground in this way before the bails were removed.

A batsman can also be out leg before wicket or LBW: this is one of the more complex and vexatious laws and usually involves the ball striking the batsman's leg-protectors (pads), hence the name. However, it can apply if any part of the batsman's body is hit (other than a hand holding the bat, which is considered an extension of the bat itself). This is an out if, in the umpire's judgement, the ball would have hit the batsman's stumps had his anatomy not intervened. There are some subtleties, however, to do with where the ball pitches (bounces) and exactly where it hits the batsman in relation to the line of the stumps. In any case, if it seems that the ball would not have struck the stumps, the batsman is not out.

These are the main ways to be out, though a batsman may also be out hit wicket (if he dislodges his own stumps), out hit the ball twice (the second hit must be an actual hit; if the batsman may stops the ball a second time by placing his bat in the way he will not be dismissed), out handled the ball or sent off (this is almost surprisingly rare, considering the fact that a player who suggests an umpire is mistaken may be sent off, and fined, for dissent, a player who swears may be sent off for ungentlemanly conduct and Law 42, which governs what is considered unfair play is by far the most complicated). Finally a player may be 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).

Countries participating in international cricket

The Test (that is major international match) teams are Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and Zimbabwe. Additionally, the various World Championship events of cricket include teams from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Kenya, Namibia, The Netherlands, Scotland, Singapore, and the United States, although the game does not have a high profile in most of those countries.

Forms of cricket

Famous Cricketers

External links

The official Laws of Cricket (http://www.lords.org/cricket/laws.asp)

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