Cricket: Definition, Rules & History

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  • 0:04 What is Cricket?
  • 0:23 History of Cricket
  • 0:53 Setup of Cricket
  • 1:39 Playing & Scoring in Cricket
  • 3:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

What do you know about the game of cricket? In this lesson we'll take a look at the history and rules of this sport, and give an idea of where and how it is played.

What Is Cricket?

Baseball is known as America's national pastime, but if you live outside of the United States you might be more familiar with a game called cricket. The game of cricket is the national summer game of England, though it's played by many countries around the world. It's similar to baseball, but there are a lot of differences, so let's take a closer look.

History of Cricket

The exact origins of cricket aren't known, but it may have been played as long ago as the 13th century. The first recorded cricket match was in 1646 in Kent, England; the laws of cricket were established in 1744; and the world's first cricket club was formed in 1760.

Cricket is a popular game all over the world
cricket bowler, batter

In the United States, cricket has been played since the 18th century, and the first formal clubs were formed later in the early 19th century. However, interest in the United States didn't last, and the game is now only played by independent clubs.

Setup of Cricket

Like many sports, the objective of cricket is to score more points than the other team. Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players each, with a 12th player on reserve in case of injury. There is a batting team and a bowling team.

There are two innings where each team will get a chance to bat and bowl. There is one captain for each team, two umpires who monitor the game on the field, and a third umpire who makes decisions based on slow-motion replays. There are also scorers who score the game.

The cricket pitch is a rectangular stretch in the middle of the cricket field, and is where most of the game action takes place
cricket pitch

Cricket is played on an oval field with a ball, a bat, and two wickets, wooden gate-like structures at each end of the pitch. The pitch is the central strip of the cricket field and where most of the action takes place. A wicket is made of three wooden posts (called stumps) with two bails, or smaller sticks, placed along the top between the stumps.

A cricket wicket
cricket wicket

Playing & Scoring in Cricket

At the beginning of the match, a coin is tossed to decide who will bat or bowl first. The batting team sends two batters out to the field (batters always bat in pairs), and the bowling team sends all 11 players out.

The batter stands in front of the wicket to protect it while the bowler tries to hit the wicket with the ball. The bowler bowls the ball to the batter, who tries to hit it, and if successful runs to the other end of the pitch and back as many times as possible before the ball is returned.

If the batter hits the ball to the boundary of the oval field, they automatically score four runs. If they hit the ball over the boundary without it touching the ground, they automatically score six runs.

Single runs can also be scored if the bowler bowls the ball high, wide, or bowls a no-ball and steps over a line called the 'crease'.

The cricket batter stands in front of the wicket and tries to hit the ball
cricket batter

Of course, the bowling team tries to prevent the batting team from scoring runs by getting them 'out'. Once the batter is out, they have to leave the field, and the next batter takes his/her place. Once ten batters are out, the teams switch sides and the batting team becomes the bowling team.

Getting a batter out can be done in different ways:

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