Cricket Explained

Everyone in my family is a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan, specifically a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, so we were all watching the Dodgers’ season opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks this morning. The game was a delayed broadcast as it was actually played on the Sydney Cricket Ground (SGC) during the wee small hours of the morning Pacific Daylight Time. I was multi-tasking - watching the game while sorting through some old files to determine what should be saved, thrown out or shredded - when I serendipitously came across an explanation of cricket a British friend had given us when we lived in Botswana.  Our friend was amused that my husband, deprived of watching his beloved baseball, had resorted to watching cricket matches on the South African TV stations and was trying to make sense of the game.  Here is the explanation he provided us:

Cricket is played by two teams for one innings each or sometimes by two teams for two innings each.

First, the two captains go out to decide which team will be in.  Then the first two batsmen from the team that is in go out to be in and the team that is out stays out.  This is the beginning of the first innings.  The idea is for the team that is out to get the team that is in out and the team that is in to stay in and not get out.

A bowler bowling to a batsman

When a batsman from the team that is in gets out then another batsman from the team that is in goes out to be in and the team that is out tries to get the new batsman, who is now in, out.  This continues until ten of the batsmen of the team that is in are out.  The eleventh batsman of the team that is in is not out but cant stay in on his own so has to go out. That is the end of the first innings for the first team who have been in.

Field positions for a right-handed batsman
Source: Wikipedia

Now the team that is in goes out and the team that has been out comes in for their first innings.  So the team that is now out tries to get the team that in now in out because now the team that was in is out and the team that was out is now in and the team that is now out tries to get the team that is now in out. This continues until all the batsmen of that team that is now in have been in and gotten out except for the one one batsman who is in and not out.  That is the end of the first innings for the second team.

Sometimes both teams have a second innings of being in and out and other times one innings of being in and out is the end of the game.  After anything from one to five days with both teams having been in and out, and sometimes in and out twice, the winner is declared as being the team that got the most runs when they were in before getting out.

Well sometimes it can be a draw becauseand this might be difficult to understandthe team that was out couldnt get the team that was in all out and the second team to go in didnt get all out but didn't get enough runs before those batsmen who have been in got out without the whole team being in an out. 

So there it is.

As you can tell, our friend was a great kidder, and his explanation was not terrifically helpful to us in understanding the game of cricket - his explanation being the British cousin of an Abbott and Costello routine (Who’s on first?).  But we nonetheless came to enjoy watching cricket matches even though we never really understood all the nuances of the game.  And in defense of our friend, the explanation he provided seems to be the standard fare served to the uninitiated as you will see in the this brief (3 minute) video.


The first English touring team on board
ship at Liverpool in 1859
Source: Wikipedia

Cricket as it is played today developed in England in the 18th century from a more primitive game played in rural areas.  Records exist of cricket matches between teams from Kent and London in 1719 and between Kent and Sussex in 1728. Written rules for the game date to 1744 - as does coincidentally the earliest written reference to baseball.

The game has spread around the world wherever British influence extended as many of our members outside the U.S. can no doubt attest. It is interesting to note that cricket was at least as popular as baseball in the U.S. during the 1850s and 1860s. The All-England cricket team toured the U.S. in 1859 and cricket remained a popular sport in the U.S. up until the 1900s when interest in baseball began to grow and interest in cricket began to wane.  Though still played in the U.S., it is an amateur's game here played mostly by expatriates.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with cricket but interested to know a bit more about it, here is a clearer explanation of the game (7 minutes).  


Australian sports promoter Jason Moore spearheaded the effort to transform Sydney Cricket Ground into a major league stadium for the two-game series between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks.  His motivation was to showcase Sydney as Australia's major events capital. Of course we Rotarians know that since another major event will take place in Sydney this year - the Rotary International Convention. If you happen to be going, you can have a look at the SGC yourself, though it won't be cricket season. Here is a time-lapsed look at how the Aussies retrofitted SCG for baseball (1.04 min):


My husband and I seldom watch cricket anymore, but since we routinely read the news on we often see the scores posted in matches.  And thanks to our exposure to the game, we better appreciate the references to it in everyday conversation - “That’s not cricket” for instance, or “That’s a sticky wicket.” or “I’m bowled over!” or “I’m stumped.”

So there it is.  It's now Sunday afternoon in Sydney (Saturday evening in California) and Dodgers' announcer Vin Scully has just proclaimed “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” once again from the Sydney Cricket Ground, so I’m off to watch the game.  Go Blue!


"Cricket is baseball on valium." - Robin Williams Quoted in Colinjarman The Guinness Dictionary of Sports Quotations (1990)


Sources used in compiling this included:


Website Sponsors