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The Absolute Basic Necessities

If you are a beginner, you should read the following basic description of the game of Cricket before moving on to the more meaty Devil's Dictionary of Cricket. There you will find all of the terms used in this description defined in devilish detail! Here we go!

It is probably fair to say that the game of cricket evolved from the same ancestor as the many other games of the bat-and-ball type played around the world, such as baseball, the various forms of rounders (have you ever played two games of rounders under the same rules? Thought not) and the old Sussex game of stoolball (don't worry, the wooden sort.) There are many excellent books that deal with the history of cricket; we are concerned here with game as it is played today.

The game is played between two teams of eleven players, on a roughly oval grass field usually between 100 and 180 yards across. In the center of the field is a closely mown and rolled area, the pitch, with a wicket at either end, on which most of the action takes place.

The teams take turns to bat and to field. Two members of the batting side ('batsmen') take the field at a time, while members of the fielding side take turns to bowl the ball to them. Each batsman's aim is to prevent the ball from hitting his wicket and, when possible, to hit the ball far enough from the fielders to allow him to score runs.

The aim of the fielding side is to get the batsmen out, one by one, in any one of ten ways - such as by hitting the wicket with the ball, or by catching a ball off the bat before it touches the ground - and to prevent them from scoring runs. As each batsman is out, another member of his team takes his place, until ten batsmen are out, when the eleventh cannot continue alone. At this point, the batting side's innings is complete, and the teams change roles. When the agreed number of innings is (either one or two a side, depending on the type of game being played), the match is over and the side with the more runs is the winner. If the time allowed for the match expires before a result is achieved, the match is a draw.

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