Henry VIII called it "the sport of kings," but for many cricket is shrouded in enigma. This needn't be the case.
At heart, once removed of jargon, it remains a simple game of immense depth and beauty, combining strategy, cunning, raw hand-to-hand fist fighting
to the death, teamwork and even the occasional tear of sorrow.
What follows is a simplified summary of the rules, as first set down by WG Grace, Lord of Wisden, in 1851.
There are two teams, each made up of 11 players. They play on a large circular field with a batting area at the centre (22 yards by 3 yards). This
centre part of the field is called the pitch. At either end of the pitch is a wicket (28 inches high); the wicket consists of three vertical poles
(stumps) and two small horizontal sticks (bails), which rest on top of the stumps.
To begin, one team bats and the other team fields (bowls). All the members of the fielding team are on the field at one time, spread out in various
positions across the field. The batting team have two members on the field at any one time, each standing at either end of the pitch. One member of
the fielding team acts as a 'bowler' and throws a cricket ball overarm from one end of the pitch towards the wicket at the other end. His aim is to
try and hit this wicket. The aim of the batsman is to protect his wicket and to score runs by hitting the ball. There are two ways for a batsman to
By hitting the ball out of the field. If the ball bounces before it reaches the edge, then the batsman will score 4 runs. If it does not bounce then
six runs are scored.
By hitting the ball within the field and then running to the other end of the pitch. The batsman as this end does the same, so that the two of them
cross over. A single run is counted for each time that the batsmen cross each other.
There are many ways that a batsman can be deemed to be out (he retires and is replaced by another member of his team). The four main ways are:
If the bowler hits the wicket that he is defending with the ball.
If the player is caught (a fielder catches the ball hit by the batsman
before it hits the ground).
If the ball hits any part of the batsman's body and it is judged by the umpire (referee) that the ball would hit the wicket if it had not hit the
batsman. This is known as leg before wicket (LBW)
If the batsman is run out. To achieve this a fielder must hit the wicket with the ball whilst the batsmen are running to the alternative end of the
When 10 players from the batting team are out, the teams swop over so that the fielders become the batters and the batters become the fielders. The
aim of the new batting team is to try and beat the number of runs that the other team have scored.