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CRICKET

Objectives
A typical cricket field.

A cricket match is played between two teams (or sides) of eleven players each on a field of variable size and shape. The ground is grassy and is prepared by groundsmen whose jobs include fertilising, mowing, rolling and levelling the surface. Field diameters of 140–160 yards (130–150 m) are usual. The perimeter of the field is known as the boundary and this is sometimes painted and sometimes marked by a rope that encircles the outer edge of the field. The Laws of Cricket do not specify the size or shape of the field[7] but it is often oval – one of cricket's most famous venues is called The Oval.

The objective of each team is to score more runs than the other team and to completely dismiss the other team. In one form of cricket, winning the game is achieved by scoring the most runs, even if the opposition has not been completely dismissed. In another form, it is necessary to score the most runs and dismiss the opposition in order to win the match, which would otherwise be drawn.

Before play commences, the two team captains toss a coin to decide which team shall bat or bowl first. The captain who wins the toss makes his decision on the basis of tactical considerations which may include the current and expected field and weather conditions.

The key action takes place in a specially prepared area of the field (generally in the centre) that is called the pitch. At either end of the pitch, 22 yards (20 m) apart, are placed the wickets. These serve as a target for the bowling (aka fielding) side and are defended by the batting side which seeks to accumulate runs. A run is scored when the batsman has run the length of the pitch after hitting the ball with his bat, although as explained below there are many ways of scoring runs.[8] If the batsmen are not attempting to score any more runs, the ball is dead and is returned to the bowler to be bowled again.[9]

The bowling side seeks to dismiss the batsmen by various means [10] until the batting side is all out, whereupon the side that was bowling takes its turn to bat and the side that was batting must take the field.[11]

In professional matches, there are 15 people on the field while a match is in play. Two of these are the umpires who regulate all on-field activity. Two are the batsmen, one of whom is the striker as he is facing the bowling; the other is called the non-striker. The roles of the batsmen are interchangeable as runs are scored and overs are completed. The fielding side has all 11 players on the field together. One of them is the bowler, another is the wicketkeeper and the other nine are called fielders. The wicketkeeper (or keeper) is nearly always a specialist but any of the fielders can be called upon to bowl.
Pitch, wickets and creases
The cricket pitch dimensions

The pitch is 22 yd (one chain) long [12] between the wickets and is 10 feet (3.0 m) wide. It is a flat surface and has very short grass that tends to be worn away as the game progresses. The "condition" of the pitch has a significant bearing on the match and team tactics are always determined with the state of the pitch, both current and anticipated, as a deciding factor.

Each wicket consists of three wooden stumps placed in a straight line and surmounted by two wooden crosspieces called bails; the total height of the wicket including bails is 28.5 inches (720 mm) and the combined width of the three stumps is 9 inches (230 mm).
Aerial view of MCG displaying the stadium, ground and pitch

Four lines, known as creases, are painted onto the pitch around the wicket areas to define the batsman's "safe territory" and to determine the limit of the bowler's approach. These are called the "popping" (or batting) crease, the bowling crease and two "return" creases.
A wicket consists of three stumps that are hammered into the ground, and topped with two bails.

The stumps are placed in line on the bowling creases and so these must be 22 yards (20 m) apart. A bowling crease is 8 feet 8 inches (2.64 m) long with the middle stump placed dead centre. The popping crease has the same length, is parallel to the bowling crease and is 4 feet (1.2 m) in front of the wicket. The return creases are perpendicular to the other two; they are adjoined to the ends of the popping crease and are drawn through the ends of the bowling crease to a length of at least 8 feet (2.4 m).

When bowling the ball, the bowler's back foot in his "delivery stride" must land within the two return creases while his front foot must land on or behind the popping crease. If the bowler breaks this rule, the umpire calls "No ball".

The importance of the popping crease to the batsman is that it marks the limit of his safe territory for he can be stumped or run out (see Dismissals below) if the wicket is broken while he is "out of his ground".

Pitches vary in consistency, and thus in the amount of bounce, spin, and seam movement available to the bowler. Hard pitches are usually good to bat on because of high but even bounce. Dry pitches tend to deteriorate for batting as cracks often appear, and when this happens spinners can play a major role. Damp pitches, or pitches covered in grass (termed "green" pitches), allow good fast bowlers to extract extra bounce. Such pitches tend to offer help to fast bowlers throughout the match, but become better for batting as the game goes on.
Bat and ball
A cricket bat, front and back.

The essence of the sport is that a bowler delivers the ball from his end of the pitch towards the batsman who, armed with a bat is "on strike" at the other end.

The bat is made of wood (usually White Willow) and has the shape of a blade topped by a cylindrical handle. The blade must not be more than 4.25 inches (108 mm) wide and the total length of the bat not more than 38 inches (970 mm).

The ball is a hard leather-seamed spheroid with a circumference of 9 inches (230 mm). The hardness of the ball, which can be delivered at speeds of more than 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), is a matter for concern and batsmen wear protective clothing including pads (designed to protect the knees and shins), batting gloves for the hands, a helmet for the head and a box inside the trousers (to protect the crotch area). Some batsmen wear additional padding inside their shirts and trousers such as thigh pads, arm pads, rib protectors and shoulder pads.
Umpires and scorers

The game on the field is regulated by two umpires, one of whom stands behind the wicket at the bowler's end, the other in a position called "square leg", a position 10–12 metres to the side of the "on strike" batsman. When the bowler delivers the ball, the umpire at the wicket is between the bowler and the non-striker. The umpires confer if there is doubt about playing conditions and can postpone the match by taking the players off the field if necessary, for example rain or deterioration of the light.
An umpire

Off the field and in televised matches, there is often a third umpire who can make decisions on certain incidents with the aid of video evidence. The third umpire is mandatory under the playing conditions for Test matches and limited overs internationals played between two ICC full members. These matches also have a match referee whose job is to ensure that play is within the Laws of cricket and the spirit of the game.

Off the field, the match details including runs and dismissals are recorded by two official scorers, one representing each team. The scorers are directed by the hand signals of an umpire. For example, the umpire raises a forefinger to signal that the batsman is out (has been dismissed); he raises both arms above his head if the batsman has hit the ball for six runs. The scorers are required by the Laws of cricket to record all runs scored, wickets taken and overs bowled. In practice, they accumulate much additional data such as bowling analyses and run rates.
Innings

The innings (ending with 's' in both singular and plural form) is the term used for the collective performance of the batting side.[13] In theory, all eleven members of the batting side take a turn to bat but, for various reasons, an "innings" can end before they all do so (see below).

Depending on the type of match being played, each team has one or two innings apiece. The term "innings" is also sometimes used to describe an individual batsman's contribution ("he played a fine innings" etc).

The main aim of the bowler, supported by his fielders, is to dismiss the batsman. A batsman when dismissed is said to be "out" and that means he must leave the field of play and be replaced by the next batsman on his team. When ten batsmen have been dismissed (i.e., are out), then the whole team is dismissed and the innings is over. The last batsman, the one who has not been dismissed, is not allowed to continue alone as there must always be two batsmen "in". This batsman is termed "not out".

If an innings should end before ten batsmen have been dismissed, there are two "not out" batsmen. An innings can end early for three reasons: because the batting side's captain has chosen to "declare" the innings closed (which is a tactical decision), or because the batting side has achieved its target and won the game, or because the game has ended prematurely due to bad weather or running out of time. In limited overs cricket, there might be two batsmen still "in" when the last of the allotted overs has been bowled.
Overs

The bowler bowls the ball in sets of six deliveries (or "balls") and each set of six balls is called an over. This name came about because the umpire calls "Over!" when six balls have been bowled. At this point, another bowler is deployed at the other end and the fielding side changes ends. A bowler cannot bowl two successive overs, although a bowler can bowl unchanged at the same end for several overs. The batsmen do not change ends and so the one who was non-striker is now the striker and vice-versa. The umpires also change positions so that the one who was at square leg now stands behind the wicket at the non-striker's end and vice-versa.
Team structure

A team consists of eleven players. Depending on his or her primary skills, a player may be classified as a specialist batsman or bowler. A well-balanced team usually has five or six specialist batsmen and four or five specialist bowlers. Teams nearly always include a specialist wicket-keeper because of the importance of this fielding position. Each team is headed by a captain who is responsible for making tactical decisions such as determining the batting order, the placement of fielders and the rotation of bowlers.

A player who excels in both batting and bowling is known as an all-rounder. One who excels as a batsman and wicket-keeper is known as a "wicket-keeper/batsman", sometimes regarded as a type of all-rounder. True all-rounders are rare as most ...


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