The world's second most popular sport: An AP guide to cricket (2024)

LONDON (AP) — The yorker went through the gate to take out off stump and send the pinch-hitter back to the shed for a golden duck. What an absolute jaffa!

Got that?

It all makes perfect sense in places like England, India and Pakistan, Australia and the Caribbean where cricket has a long history and a huge following. But if you’re scratching your head and wondering what that all means, then worry no more.

Here, The Associated Press offers a casual watcher’s guide to cricket and what you might see and hear during the June 1-29 Twenty20 World Cup in the United States and Caribbean. Of the three main forms of international cricket, T20 is the shortest.


The Basics:


The key word in cricket, with several different meanings (nobody said cricket was easy).

“Taking a wicket” means a bowler — think pitcher — has got a batter out. Take 10 wickets and the innings is over. Modes of dismissal — when a wicket is taken — include bowled, caught, run out or trapped leg before wicket. Wickets also refers to the three wooden stumps at either end. Batters scamper between the wickets to score a run every time they cross over. The wicket can also be the 22 yards (20 meters) between the two sets of stumps. Expect lots of runs if you hear “good batting wicket.”


Each team (of 11 players) has one innings — not inning — at the Twenty20 World Cup. The captains toss a coin and the winner decides whether his team will bat or bowl first. There are a maximum 10 wickets in each innings before the team is all out and the other team bats. A scoreboard showing 150-4 means the team has tallied 150 runs and lost four wickets — four people have been dismissed out of a maximum 10. The higher the first number in a score like 150-4 (50 is very bad, 200 is very good) and the lower the second means the batting team is doing well. A 10-wicket win means a team has exceeded its opponent’s score without losing any wickets. Like a 6-0, 6-0 victory in tennis.


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T20 World Cup games last 20 overs per team. There are six balls in an over. Not all teams use up all their overs, as they may lose their 10 wickets before the 20 overs have gone. Overs are also important in alternating the opposite ends from which bowlers bowl. When the over is, well, over, it’s the turn of the batter at the other end to face the next bowler. If no runs are scored in an over, the bowler is deemed to have bowled a maiden over. Then there’s the so-called death overs — which has come into cricket parlance with the booming popularity of T20 cricket. They’re the last couple of overs when batters take big risks everything to hit as many boundaries as possible.


The Quirky:


The beamer is an illegal delivery where the bowler hurls the ball at the batter’s head without it bouncing. Rare, almost always accidental and, we’ve got to say it once in this guide, just not cricket.


It’s 4 runs if a batter hits the ball beyond the edge of the field (the boundary) and 6 if he does it without the ball bouncing. At Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens, batters have hit the ball out of the stadium and into the adjacent River Taff. That’s no extra runs, but you don’t have to pay for a new ball.


Not a farewell greeting to friends but part of something called “extras” that increase a team’s score by at least 1 run. If a bowler is having a bad day, the extras’ total can quickly mount up. One of the extras is called a wide — where the ball goes so far away from the batter there is no realistic chance of hitting it, however long his arms.


Beamers are bad, so play some chin music instead. Fast bowlers aim to bounce the ball so that it rises steeply around a batter’s face. Can also be known as sniffs — passing so close to the nose that a batter can smell the leather — or simply a bouncer.


Not an actual animal. Not really a corner. A position covering part of the field where the opposition tries to catch one of the two batters. Other strange cricketing positions include third man (on the boundary and often seen having a chat with spectators in village cricket games), first slip (who stands next to the wicketkeeper) and silly point, where the fielder stands dangerously close to the batter.


The ultimate embarrassment for any batter. He gets padded up for protection, makes a long walk out to the middle of the field and then is out on the first ball. He returns to the dressing room/locker room/pavilion/shed in disgrace. A standard “duck” is where a batter lasts more than one ball but still fails to score. There’s also the reviled diamond duck, where a player is run out without even facing a ball.


Far from an adjective to describe an internet search engine, this is actually one of the hardest balls to bowl in cricket. Sent down by a spin bowler, the googly — or the wrong ’un — bounces and turns into the batter rather than away. What makes it particularly difficult is that the ball comes out of the back of the bowler’s hand, so batters can’t guess in advance what’s coming their way. TV viewers will know it when they see it.


A delivery that is so good it’s almost unplayable — often acknowledged by a nod of the head from a batter.


Doesn’t mean the leather ball has disappeared. Rather, it means a bowler has either stepped over the ‘popping’ crease in the delivery stride, or the ball has passed the batter too high. It adds an extra ball to the over and a run to the batting team’s total.


When a delivery hits the batter on the lower leg directly in front of the stumps before or without hitting the bat, it’s usually considered a “plumb” leg before wicket (LBW) decision — i.e. there can be no doubt the ball would have hit the stumps if it hadn’t hit the batter’s leg first.


The simplest of catches usually lead to a routine dismissal. A fielder who drops a sitter usually gets extra attention from the crowd.


Hoping to claim a wicket, bowlers aim the ball at three vertical sticks known as stumps with two horizontal bails across the top. Each stump has its own name — leg stump is the one nearest a batter’s leg, middle stump is — surprise, surprise — in the center, and off stump is the other one. There are two sets of stumps, one at each end of the pitch. “Stumps” is also used to say that play has ended for the day in a longer version of the game.


In cricket, it’s best to keep the gate shut. It is the gap between the batter’s bat and pads that bowlers try to target. Close the gate, though, and you are in danger of the ball hitting you on the pad and being given out LBW (leg before wicket).


Was the word spawned by cricketers from Yorkshire in northern England? Its origins are still up for debate, but there is no doubting what it is. The yorker is a ball bowled that hits the ground near the batsman’s feet at the crease. Batters can do little more than block it. It makes some lose balance and fall over. Others miss it altogether and hear the sound of the ball hitting their stumps. Australia’s left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Starc is well known for his in-swinging yorker.


AP cricket:

The world's second most popular sport: An AP guide to cricket (2024)


Where is cricket most popular? ›

It all makes perfect sense in places like England, India and Pakistan, Australia and the Caribbean where cricket has a long history and a huge following.

What is a wicket in cricket? ›

In cricket, the term wicket has several meanings: It is one of the two sets of three stumps and two bails at either end of the pitch. The fielding team's players can hit the wicket with the ball in a number of ways to get a batter out.

How to understand cricket? ›

Basics of the game
  1. Cricket is a team sport played by two competing sides usually formed of 11 players each. ...
  2. If you play club cricket, you will usually play at a cricket ground. ...
  3. The pitch is situated in the middle of the field.
  4. A coin toss decides the order in which the teams bat and field.

How do you play the game cricket? ›

Cricket is played by two teams of 11, with one side taking a turn to bat a ball and score runs, while the other team will bowl and field the ball to restrict the opposition from scoring. The main objective in cricket is to score as many runs as possible against the opponent.

Is cricket the most watched sport in the world? ›

While soccer remains the most watched sport in the world, there are other sports that have captured the hearts of billions of fans. Among these sports in the world, two such sports are cricket, with roots in the British Empire, and field hockey, a staple in the Olympic Games.

Is cricket more popular than football in England? ›

Association football is the most popular sport, followed by cricket, tennis and rugby.

What are cricket stumps called? ›

The bails must be knocked off the stumps to bowl a batter out. Stumps - these each have their own name and when viewed from the front, the left stump is called the off stump, middle stump and the right stump is called the leg stump.

Is it possible to win by 0 wickets? ›

Suppose 1 run needed and team is 9 wickets down. Spinner bowls wide ball and batsman gets out stumped. So team will be all out but score is chased. So the match will be won by 0 wickets.

What is a cricket pitch called? ›

Track or deck are other synonyms for pitch. The rectangular central area of the cricket field – the space used for pitches – is known as the square. Cricket pitches are usually oriented as close to the north-south direction as practical, because the low afternoon sun would be dangerous for a batter facing due west.

How many balls are in 20 overs? ›

Format. Twenty20 match format is a form of limited overs cricket in that it involves two teams, each with a single innings. The key feature is that each team bats for a maximum of 20 overs (120 legal balls).

How many balls are in 50 over? ›

Each team has 50 overs (6 balls make up 1 over), i.e. 300 balls delivered to them to score from. All the players in the team bat until either they are all out, or they run out of balls to score from. Each bowler can bowl only 1 over at a time and not more than 10 overs in the whole game.

What is cricket in 100 words? ›

Cricket Essay 1 (100 words)

It is a passionate game of India played with a bat and a ball. There are two teams the cricket, each of them having 11 players. It is played for a very common aim of getting maximum scores and number of runs by both teams. The team wins and gets a higher score at the end of the match.

Can 2 wickets fall in 1 ball? ›

The simple Answer is “ No” and Impossible. It would be possible for two wickets to fall between successive balls with the application of the “Timed Out” mode of dismissal (under Law 40.1), but that's not the same as two falling during the course of the one delivery.

What is cricket turf? ›

Turf cricket pitch

The dimensions of a turf pitch are 20.12m long (from stump to stump)plus a minimum of 1.22m behind the stumps to accommodate the return crease and bowler approach area. The width of a turf pitch is 3.05m.

Is cricket popular outside India? ›

On the surface, the numbers suggest a global event: With over one billion fans, cricket is among the world's most popular sports. But almost five centuries after the earliest recorded reference to cricket in southeast England, the sport's market largely remains limited to a handful of countries, led by India.

Why is cricket not popular in us? ›

The reasons behind cricket's limited appeal in the USA are multifaceted, including its perceived complexity, lack of exposure, and competition from established American sports like baseball and football.

Why is cricket only popular in India? ›

Historical Context: Cricket's Roots in India

Over time, it transcended its colonial origins to become a symbol of unity and pride for the nation. The iconic victories of the Indian cricket team, such as the 1983 World Cup win and recent triumphs, have further cemented cricket's status as a national obsession.

Where is cricket traditionally played? ›

It is particularly popular in the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and the West Indies. The game is played outdoors with bats and a ball between two competing sides (teams) of 11 players each. The sides take turns at batting and bowling (pitching).


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