Sticky subject: wickets

The biggest term to understand in cricket is "wicket." More importantly, to understand cricket, you must understand how wickets work like outs — and why it makes them probably the most exciting part of a match.

Each team has 10 wickets. Once the team runs through its 10 wickets, the team is all-out and it's the next team's turn to bat (assuming, of course, that overs don't run out before then). Thus, each player only has one wicket to work with, meaning that he will not come back up to bat later like a baseball batter. Additionally, 10 wickets for an 11-person team means one batsman will not be out at the end of play (though because two batsmen must run at a time, he cannot bat alone).

A wicket is "taken" by the opposite team to get a batsman out. As with baseball outs, a wicket can be taken in many different ways — many of them the same or very similar to baseball.

Ways to get out

Fielding

AFP

Australia's Michael Hussey makes an impressive catch in a 2010 ODI match against New Zealand to get the batsman out.

For example, if a batsman hits the ball into the air and that ball is caught in the air, a batsman is out — the exact same as in baseball. In this case, the batsman is said to be "caught," and a scorecard will probably read "Batsman c(aught) Fielder b(owled) Bowler," with names filling in for the positions. If the wicketkeeper is the one to take the catch, a batsman is "caught behind" as the wicketkeeper is behind him.

Other than being caught, most of the ways to take a batsman's wicket revolve around the physical integrity of his wicket (the structure). Generally speaking, once the bails are knocked from the stumps in one of several ways, a batsman is out.

Also similar to baseball, a batsman may be "run out" if he is not in a safe zone (aka behind the popping crease) when a fielder knocks the bails from the stumps. This is like a baseman tagging a base when a runner is off of the base in baseball. However, a fielder may knock the bails from the stumps in several ways. He may be near the wicket and casually knock off the bails, or he may throw the ball into the stumps from far off, called a "direct hit," upsetting the bails atop the stumps.

A batsman may also be "stumped" by the wicketkeeper if the batsman comes forward in front of the crease to hit the ball. If the wicketkeeper collects the ball and can knock the bails off before the batsman steps back, the wicketkeeper has stumped the batsman.

Bowled

Stock Photo

A batsman is bowled.

A batsman may also be "bowled" out, the rough equivalent of a strikeout. This is when the bowler sends the ball past the batsman and into the wicket, knocking the bails from the stumps. Sometimes a bowler will hit the stumps so hard that it sends the stumps flying out of the ground, visibly shattering the wicket.

Watch more:

Watch a compilation of big bowling wickets, often considered the best wickets, here.

If a delivery would bowl a batsman, he must use his bat and not his body to deflect the shot. This is called the LBW rule, which stands for "leg before wicket." Essentially this rule just means that a batsman cannot use his body to prevent being bowled. With the LBW rule, there are, however, complicated restrictions on where the ball is when it bounces, what it hits first, its trajectory, etc. See this BBC site for more information.

A batsman may also be gotten out by a "hit wicket." A hit wicket is when a batsman (accidentally) gets himself out by somehow running into the wicket and dislodging the bails. This can be done with the body or the bat, which sometimes happens when a batsman reaches back to play a shot.

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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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