Cricket is a sport that nearly everyone has heard of but few understand. Most know that it is vaguely similar to baseball. Like baseball, one team bats while the other plays the field. However, cricket is unique because matches can last for several days, and scores typically rise into triple digits.
Cricket is played on a circular or oval field, with a rectangular clay patch, called the pitch, in the center. At each end of the pitch is a set of three posts, or stumps, with two smaller sticks, or bails, resting on top of them. The entire setup is called a wicket. The ball, normally red in color, has a cork core covered by tightly-wound string and a leather case, and bats are flattened wood paddles.
Matches are played with two teams of eleven players each. Unlike baseball, the batting team has two players on the field at a time, one in front of each wicket. However, only one of these players bats at a time. When the batter, or striker, hits the ball, both batsmen run between the wickets.
Runs are scored by hitting the ball over the boundary of the playing field like a home-run and by running back and forth between the wickets. Multiple runs can be scored with each hit. Play ends when a batman is called out, or dismissed.
Dismissal can occur a number of ways; it often occurs when the bowler’s serve hits the wicket and dislodges a bail, when the ball is caught in the air by the fielding team, or if a fielder uses the ball to dislodge a bail. In addition, the batsmen can simply choose to stop running; while no additional points will be scored for that play, the batsman is not out.
Play is divided into two innings. While this might seem short, cricket does not have a three-out rule like baseball; ten of the eleven players must be called out before a team is no longer at bat, and it can be very hard to get a batsman out.
Games are usually played over the course of two or three days. In order to break up the game and give players a chance to rest, each inning is divided into series of overs, which are sets of six consecutive deliveries by the bowler, or pitcher.
While cricket is virtually unknown here in the United States, it is wildly popular in the United Kingdom. There are some cricket clubs scattered throughout the US, but the sport remains relatively foreign and consequently few people play.
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