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Confused by cricket? Here's some help

Explaining the game’s baffling rules is often required for novices and people unfamiliar with the sport.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | 10:02 p.m. CST; updated 6:32 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Much like baseball, cricket is played with a ball and a bat. Aside from that, if you hope to understand the game, you’re going to need a whole new vocabulary.

“It’s the same thing (as baseball),” cricketer Pramod Kothuri said. “You throw the ball, and you hit it.”

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However, there’s a bit more to it than that.

Instead of four bases located 90 feet apart, there are two wickets separated by 22 yards on opposite ends of the “pitch,” which is a strip of ground in the middle of the circular field. Instead of nine players, there are 11. There are no foul balls, and there is no such thing as a strikeout.

There is a pitcher, but he’s called a bowler. And he doesn’t throw the ball like a pitcher. He must keep his arm straight when he releases it. His object is to hit the wicket behind the batter and knock off one of two molded pieces of wood called “bails.”

The batter’s job is to protect the wicket with his bat and, of course, to score runs. Unlike baseball, there are two batters on the field at one time. One, the striker, hits the ball. When the ball is in play, the striker and the non-striker run back and forth between wickets as many times as possible to score runs.

The direction the bowler throws the ball changes every six pitches, giving both the striker and the non-striker a chance to bat. This set of six pitches is called an over, and no bowler can pitch two overs in a row.

Cricket does have its own version of the home run. When the striker hits the ball out of bounds in the air, in any direction, his team receives six runs. When he hits it out of bounds on the ground, his team receives four runs.

If it seems like there are a lot of ways in which to score, there are just as many ways to get out. The batter is out when the bail is knocked off of the wicket, even if it was his own mistake. He can also be called out if he uses his body to block the ball from hitting the wicket or if a fielder catches the ball in the air.

Every batter except the last one bats until he is out. At 11 players per side, it can take anywhere from hours to days to finish a one to two inning match. No kidding. That makes extra innings seem pretty unremarkable.


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