The basics of cricket



An Indian batsman plays a shot during a T20 match against Bangladesh.

One of the things you have to wrap your mind around with cricket is that it's not a quick back-and-forth exchange between teams.

Cricket is not split into quarters or periods like many sports, though there are "overs," a set of six balls, that can determine the length of the game. Cricket is instead made up of "innings," which means a team's at-bat, not a period of play like in baseball. Each team's 11 players all bat back-to-back and only until they are out once, meaning that one team will be completely done batting by the time the other team comes to bat (with the exception of Test's second innings, if they happen).

This means that one team will be setting a benchmark score and the other team will be chasing that score, plus one more run to win. In cricket, then, a team can win by wickets if it reaches the other team's score plus one with wickets to spare, or a team can win by runs if the other team fails to reach its benchmark.

For example, say in a T20 match with 20 overs, Team A scores 130 with only five wickets (usually said as "130 for five") at the end of the overs. The following can happen:

  • Team B scores 131 for four wickets. Team B "wins by six wickets."
  • Team B scores 120 by the end of the overs or the end of its wickets. Team A "wins by 10 runs."

See Scoring, Wickets and Bowling to see how each of these aspects of the game works to contribute toward a match.

You can also see the comparisons between cricket and baseball in field layout and positions, batting and equipment.

If you're still unsure of some of the terms used, see a list of cricket terms defined.

About this site

If you're an American looking to understand the sport cricket (sometimes called baseball's lost twin), this is the website for you. From a fellow American who was once as confused as you are, you can learn the sport's basics, terminology, relation to baseball and a brief history.

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