Batting is one of the main differences between cricket and baseball. The two are alike in that they're balls being hit with bats, but the two styles are so different that watching batting can be entirely confusing.


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Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar hits a ball away from West Indies wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh during a Test match in November 2011.

Some of the questions that come to mind watching cricket batsmen are: Why are two guys running? Why is a batsman standing up there for so long? Where can he hit the ball?

The biggest difference between baseball batters and cricket batsmen is the amount of time each can stand up and hit. In baseball, a batter either gets three strikes or four balls (or any combination thereof, plus fouls) before he is either out or moving for a base. In cricket, a batter is in until he's out; he may get as many balls (baseball pitches) as it takes to get him out and can potentially stay in for the entire game. That means that batting orders are typically stacked toward the front with the most powerful batters first.

Also, two cricket batsmen are on a pitch at a time. Only one of these batsmen is "on strike," meaning he is being bowled to, at a time. The other batsman, the one not on strike, is merely acting as a runner. But the two players alternate — while carrying their bats — as runs are scored (see scoring) and at the ends of overs.

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A diagram showing the names of different cricket shots.

The shape and layout of a cricket field means that there are no foul zones like in baseball. A cricket batsman may hit the ball just about anywhere. This includes — bafflingly for those familiar with baseball — hitting the ball straight backward over his shoulder.

Generally batsmen are aiming for — or hoping for — a shot to hit the field's boundary because it scores runs without having to run. If a ball hits the boundary on the ground, it scores four runs, and a shot that goes over the boundary in the air scores six. Both fours and sixes are known as "boundaries" for this reason.

However, another major difference between baseball and cricket is that while a baseball player must run after hitting or he will be gotten out, a cricket batsman may choose when to run. If a batsman doesn't think he'll make it to the other wicket before a fielder can get there, he can choose not to run. Also different from baseball, a cricket batsman is not penalized for swinging at a ball and missing, provided it doesn't hit the wicket and get him out. A ball from which no run is scored is called a "dot ball."

A cricket batsman can also be much more mobile than a baseball batter. He may move forward to meet the ball, though this is dangerous because it takes him outside of his safe area and makes it easier to get him out.

Watch American baseball batsmen try their hand at cricket batting.

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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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