Cricket is a sport which has been enjoyed by many passionate players since the late 16th century. But what exactly is a ‘duck’ an ‘LBW” and an ‘over’? Learn the basic rules of cricket and how to play the game with this handy article.

What is Cricket?

Essentially, Cricket is a bat and ball sport played on a grass field. In the centre of the field is a dry hard surface called a ‘pitch’, and placed at either end of the pitch are wooden stumps called ‘wickets’.

Cricket is played between two teams consisting of eleven players each – one team takes turns to stand at the wickets on the pitch (two players at a time) and ‘bats’ (hits the ball and runs down the pitch to score points) and one team ‘bowls’ (11 players at a time) the ball to the batter and fields (tries to catch the ball in one hit or return the ball to the wickets to get the batting team out).

There are currently 3 different forms of cricket, they include:

  • Test Match – The original form of the game and the purest. Each Team can have up to two innings each to try and beat the other team’s cumulative scores. This form of the game generally takes 8 hours a day for 5 days but can finish earlier.
  • One Dayer – Each Team has 50 overs each to bat whilst the other team bowls to them. The first team sets the total for the other team to chase. This form of the game generally lasts about 8 hours.
  • Twenty/Twenty cricket – Each team has 20 overs each to bat whilst the other team bowls to them.  The first team sets the total for the other team to chase.  This form of the game is generally 3 hours long and is gaining popularity over the one day game.


An ‘over’ is known as the period of where six balls have been bowled by the fielding team (known as a ‘bowler’) to the batting team. When this period is over a new bowler from the fielding team starts bowling from the other end of the pitch to the batter who was not facing the bowler previously.  The ‘bowler’ cannot bowl two overs in a row from the same end, the fielding team must alternate ends and bowlers throughout the course of the game.


An innings is known as the period the batting team have played on the field. If a batting team member gets out, then another team member will replace him. Some basic ways a batman can get out are:

  • Caught –  Hitting the ball directly to a member of the fielding team who catches it
  • Bowled – A batman’s wickets are hit by the ball
  • LBW – Leg Before Wicket which basically means the Umpire decides if the ball would have hit the stumps if it had not been obstructed by the batsman’s pads.
  • Run-Out – A run-out is when the batters are going for a run or runs but fall short of the batting crease (where the batter stands to face the bowler) when the stumps are broken by the fielding team.
  • Stumped – A stumping happens when the keeper (the player from the fielding team who fields behind the wickets) collects the ball and knocks off the bails before the batter gets their bat or any part of their body grounded behind the batting crease
  • Duck – A batsman scores zero because they are caught out from their first hit off the ball.

If all batsmen have been dismissed then the whole team are dismissed and hence the total innings is over. An innings can also end because of poor weather determining play.


‘Runs’ are known as points in Cricket. When a member of the batting team is bowled a ball they must hit it with their bat, then they and their team member must run from one end of the wicket (along the pitch) to the other wicket, before the fielding side can return the ball to the wickets. If the fielding team get the ball to the wickets while the batsman is between the wickets, then they will be ‘stumped’ and therefore ‘out’ and another batsman team member will take their place. Only one batsman on the two will be dismissed and it is determined by whoever is closest to the wicket at the time.

There is also a strict rule that batters must touch the ground in front of the wickets with their bat or foot otherwise the run will not count as a point.

Depending on how fast a batter can run, more than one run or point can be scored from a single hit with the cricket bat. It is usually difficult to run more than three times within the pitch. Hits which reach the boundary of the field are automatically awarded four runs and if the ball is hit over the boundary then six runs are allocated. The batsmen do not need to run if the ball reaches or crosses the boundary.

The whole point of the sport is to beat the other team by receiving a higher score by gaining more runs. A team’s score is recorded by the number of runs and the number of batsmen that have been dismissed. For example, if six batsmen are taken out by the fielding team and the team has scored 200 runs, then their score is 200 for the loss of 6 wickets (known as “224 for six”).


Umpires are present at a Cricket game to act as a referee to ensure that the rules are followed correctly, and will often call the shots by way of judging if a player can be dismissed or if caught ‘out’ by the other team. The Umpire also advises if a big hit by a batsman scores high points by reaching the boundary of the field equally four points or further past the boundary equalling six runs.


Cricket has a few unique phrases which are confusing if you don’t understand what they mean! Here are a few popular terms explained:

  • LBW – Leg before wicket – if a batsman uses their body to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket (to avoid being bowled out) rather than hitting the ball with their bat. The batsman is dismissed if they break this rule.
  • Crease – one of the lines on the pitch near the wicket. Where the batsman stands and where they must hit their bat when running in order to receive run points.
  • Duck – A batsman’s score of zero when they are caught out from their first hit off the ball.
  • Chuck - to throw the ball instead of bowling it. Against the rules and the Umpire will determine this fault.
  • Delivery - a reference giving to the particular bowling the ball.
  • No Ball  - an illegal ’delivery’ which occurs when the bowler oversteps the line when attempting to bowl.

You might also be interested in reading these other helpful sporting articles – How to Understand Rugby and How to Understand Netball.

How To Play Cricket, 4.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings


  1. Cricket is such a wonderful game for it’s eccentricity and peculiar terminology. Silly mid on, googly, long leg, bowling a maiden over, etc.

    There are books dedicated to explaining the game and these terms, but my favorite description of cricket, often found on tea towels and purported to have been overheard as an Englishman tried to explain cricket to an American, is:

    “You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.”

    “When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.”

    “There are two men called umpires who stay out the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.”

    “When both sides have been in and all the men have been given out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!”


    I would add – Or the rain has come, or the five days has ended before both sides have been in and all out twice then the match is a draw.

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