This article is directed towards all the baseball fans and addicts and almost imploringly herding them towards one of the most popular games in the eastern part of the globe: cricket!
I believe that almost each and every American might have heard the name, even if they don't play it or follow it, and if by any chance they follow it with complete understanding, there's nothing better than that.
So what's cricket? What and where are its origins from? How is it played?
I hope to answer all these questions in my "opinionated" piece and to draw at least a few parallels between the two legendary games.
Cricket is a native of England, and it started—according to documented evidence—somewhere in the 16th century. The name is derived from Middle Dutch meaning "bat" or "stick" which is used to play and hit the ball with.
And since England had colonised most of the nations across the world, it spread to almost all such nations, and if I am not wrong, it has delved into the United States as well, although the popularity is not the same.
The governing body for the game is the ICC or the International Council for Cricket, which makes all important decisions pertaining to the game. Further, every cricket-playing nation has its own intrinsic cricketing governing body too.
Today, there are 10 countries who are listed as "Test-playing nations"—explanation to follow below—who play the most elite format of the sport.
To avoid confusion, I would like to elaborate that there are three main types of cricketing format:
I. Tests: This is the most elite and the oldest playing pattern. It is played over a course of five days from around 9:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening with breaks for lunch and tea in between.
The 10 test-playing countries are, in alphabetical order: Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Zimbabwe.
II. One Day Internationals: These are also known as "Limited Overs Cricket" because, unlike tests, the entire match session lasts for just a single day. They are the short version developing and gaining popularity in the past 20-25 years.
III. T20s: The most recent upgrade to the family and the fastest format to hit the market. The main reason behind their innovation was to reduce the time taking disadvantage and to regenerate the interest of the fans in the sport.
The test-playing countries are prescribed by the ICC to play test cricket, which in itself is an honour indeed, and apart from tests, they also play ODIs and T20 also.
The content above was a precursor about the game: a sort of overview so as to introduce the game in the best "theoretical" manner.
The content ahead includes almost every technical detail about the sport: players, rules, playing equipment, playing arena, and so on...
Before I start, I have to admit that I am not a "know-it-all," and that the details written here are to the best of my knowledge and ability. If anyone feels that I have made a mistake somewhere, please feel free to post your thoughts and comments...
1. Field: It's the huge circle constituting the playing arena for the teams. The players are positioned around the circle, and each position has its own unique responsibility.
2. Pitch: This is the narrow rectangular strip in the middle of the circle at the both ends of which the play actually takes place. It can be compared to the diamond of a baseball game. A pitch is 22 yards long.
3. Batsmen/Batters: These are similar to the batters in baseball who wield the willow and try to score runs for the team. A standard team is composed of 11 players— a mandatory six batsmen have to be included, while the rest of the team is comprised of five bowlers who can bat.
4. Bowlers: They are akin to the pitchers in the American ball game. The objective is to take the wicket of the batsman and control the run score.
5. Fielders: They are the players surrounding the circle. Their job is to prevent the batsmen taking runs and help the bowlers to grab wickets by taking catches.
6. All-Rounders: This refers to the person who can bat, bowl, and field with the same adeptness.
7. Overs: It refers to the number of balls bowled by a bowler to any particular batsman, and six balls constitute an over. An over is measured as: 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and 2. The "2" here marks the completion of the second over and the beginning of the third.
In an One Day International, each team gets 50 overs as its side of the play. In Tests there are 90 overs in each day, therefore making it 450 overs for the five days, and the T20s have 20 overs per team.
8. Innings: 50 ODIS and 20 T20 overs for team marks an inning for the teams. Essentially, we can even say that it's like a film with an "intermission" in between.
While in test matches, there are four innings in all, which are referred as "first innings" and "second innings" both times over.
9. Stumps and Bails: These are long and sturdy sticks that are planted in the ground at both the ends of the pitch and they are horizontally covered from the top by "Bails." Any disturbance to them will constitute as a loss of a wicket.
10. Wickets: This refers to every chance squandered by the batting team to advance the runs scored. The bowling team gets 10 chances to take wickets; the 10th indicating the end of the innings of the batting team. There are different ways of losing a wicket. To name a few: a ball caught by any of the fielding positions, stump disturbance, and run-outs.
For more details, refer to Dismissals.
11. Umpires: There are two umpires on the field for the duration of the match. One umpire takes position behind the stumps near the non-striker end—the batsman who is currently not required to hit the ball—and one near the left-hand side of the batsman in strike—also known as the square-leg umpire.
There is also a third umpire known as the TV umpire who is responsible for giving verdicts in case of any ambiguity in the field below.
12. Bat and ball: The main items without which the game is completely incomplete. The bat—displayed in the article picture—is made from wood, while the ball is leather with the seam covering in the middle.
A red coloured ball is used in Test cricket, and a white coloured one is used in the limited overs version. This is because limited overs cricket is played during both night and day, and therefore visibility becomes difficult if a red sphere is used.
13. Protective guards: These are used to protect the batsmen from any injuries. These include helmets, leg-pads, and shin-guards to name a few.
The main objective of the game is two-fold: the batting team tries to score as many runs in the over limit and the bowling side attempts to prevent them from doing so. The same is reversed and tweaked a bit when the bowling team comes to bat. They are not just supposed to score runs, but they are supposed to overtake the score by the batting team in order to win the match.
The now-bowling team will have to take wickets before the other team reaches the desired scoreline.
ALLOTMENT OF RUNS
1. Single: Also known as "one run." When the batsman strikes and crosses from one end of the pitch to the other with the other batsman, it is deemed as a single and adds one run to the team total as well as the batsman's individual score.
2. Twos: a single twice over.
3. Threes: a single thrice over.
4. Fours/ Boundary: When the ball reaches the fence or the perimeter of the cricketing circle, it automatically adds four runs. In other words, a single four times over without the batsman having to run four times.
5. Sixes: This is the maximum a score that a batsman can procure for the team. When the ball crosses over to the stands directly, it's a six—a home run in the baseball parlance.
6. Extras: Runs which are a result of the bowler's incompetence rather than a batsman's skill are extras. These include: wides—when the batsman is unable to hit the ball, no-ball—when the bowler over steps the line, byes—which includes singles, twos and the other runs when anything except the bat touches the ball, and leg-byes—where the runs are awarded after the ball passes through the leg pads.
CONCLUSION AND COMPARISON
I hope that this article was informative instead of a complete bore. Although it is difficult to explain any game in words and, more importantly, in theory, I presume I have done full justice to the topic selected and understanding cricket will become a bit easier after this.
If we see from the above explanations, it's clear that there isn't much difference between baseball and cricket. Some of the terms used are similar too, and the most basic ingredient being "bat and ball" in the two games are common.
Based on the huge population of Indians residing in the U.S. who probably enjoy baseball to the hilt, it would be the icing on the cake if cricket would be instigated and popularised. From the global cricketing aspect, it would be very interesting to see the East integrate with the West.
And considering that the Olympic committee is considering including T20 in its list of events, it would be a real pity if the USA misses a chance to grab a medal!
PS: Specially dedicated to the person who inspired the thought about this article: Saraswathi Sirigina