Did you know, that cricket is one of the highest scoring sports ever played with scores averaging in the 100’s to 200’s per team. Cricket is a sport with a very immense history going back to the 1300’s. It is much more complex in rules compared to many other sports. It has a very unique playing surface that cannot be shared with other sports. As well, there have been influential players who have helped revolutionize the game to make it the wonderful sport it is today.
Cricket originated in sheep fields of the south east of England. When a shepherd was waiting for the sheep to finish eating, they would bowl or throw a ball of wool at the padlock of the field. It was defended by someone else using a shepherd’s staff, who tried to hit it. Across South England, a similar sport to cricket with local rule variations have come together to create this confusing yet exciting game. “Bat” was often used to refer to the curved club used in those days of cricket. Underarm bowls were used instead of the fast overhand bowls used today. The first account of a cricket match was in 1646. Cricket became so popular that fines were given to those that missed church for it. In 1706, the first description of a cricket match was recorded. It stated that there were four-ball overs and an argument for the main rules. The first official rules of cricket were documented in 1744. It laid out the mandatory dimensions of the field and that tow umpires are mandatory to have. In the 1760’s, the world first cricket club was formed. At this time, bowler began to switch to the overhand pitch that is now used in modern cricket. This gave bowlers better chances to dismiss the batsman and win games. However, the straight bat that is used in modern cricket was invented to match these pitches. These big changes were what sparked the start of modern cricket as more skill and less rough force was necessary to play. In the next 10 years, the LBW law was introduced, ball and bat regulations were started, a third stump was used to play and the Marylebone Cricket Club revised its rules for the first time. From 1730 to 1790, the amount of cricket matches played rose about 333%. The next century saw massive changes that continued to develop into modern cricket. Vulcanized rubber was invented and it gave the players a chance to protect themselves in some way. Before boundaries were introduced, spectators had to clear a way for the fielders to get the ball to the player near the pitch. But after they were introduced the fielder could not get the ball once it has passed the line. Modern pitching technique was banned, but it was ultimately up to the umpire if he wanted to call a no-ball. Eventually, the law changed, making mandatory to throw the ball overhand.
Like many other concepts in cricket, the field is confusing. The only part of the field that has strict required measurement is the pitch or wicket. The distance between the two bowling creases must be 22 yards. Stumps must be hammered into the bowling creases which cannot stand higher than 28½ inches and be 9 inches wide. The space between the stumps must be smaller than the diameter of the ball. The popping crease must be 4 feet in front of the bowling crease. The 2 return creases must be exactly 8 feet 8 inches apart and must touch the bowling and popping creases. The batting crease is the same line as the popping crease but it is an extension of 51 cm outside of the return crease on both sides. The infield is where closefielders can stand is marked by white disks that are 30 yards away from the pitch. After that the boundary line can be as far or as close as the home team wants. It is usually marked by a white line in amateur cricket. In professional cricket, it is marked by ropes. The length of grass in each section progressively gets longer the further away you are from the pitch. The pitch can have bumps in it giving pitched balls the ability to fly anywhere in the direction of the batsman.
Lots of mandatory equipment is worn by the batsman to protect from these flying balls. When up to bat, the batter must have a bat. The bat looks like a flat baseball bat with a width of about 10.5 cm. The length of the part you hit the ball with has a measurement of about 94 cm. Any player must wear a polo t-shirt but if the weather is colder they can wear long sleeved polo shirts. As well, they can wear woolen vests or jumpers. All players traditionally wear white trousers. Spiked shoes are worn by all to improve grip when running on grass. When a batsman is at bat, they must wear a helmet that meets the new British Standard (BSi) – BS7928:2013 (ICC Helmet Rules). He/she must also wear an abdomen guard to protect against the hurtling ball. A thigh guard is worn on the leg that faces the bowler. Shin pads are worn on both legs and extend past the knee. A chest guard covers the side that faces the bowler and the area over your heart. An elbow guard protects the side that is nearest to the other wicket. The gloves used are a lot like hockey gloves except that there is no padding in the thumbs. A ball in necessary for the batter to hit and score runs. The ball has a core made of cork and an outside made of leather that is stitched and dyed.
Cricket comes in many forms like One-Day International or Twenty20 and all have slight variations of scoring and length of matches. Both teams have 11 players that alternate between batting and fielding. To set up, a batsman stands at one end of the pitch in between the popping and bowling creases and in front of his own stumps. Another player from the same team stands on opposite side of the batsman behind the batting crease and is called the non-batter. A player from the other team then bowls the ball towards the batsman. A bowl is when the bowler has thrown the ball overhand and it bounces once before reaching the batter. The batter has to then try to hit the ball. If he misses and the ball knocks a bail over, then the batter is out. If the batter hits the ball into the field it can be caught by a field member. If they do not drop it then the batter is out. If the batter hits the ball into the field and no one has caught it, then the batter and the non-batter can switch sides as many times as they want. However if the defending team knocks off the bails before the player headed that way could pass the batting crease than that runner is out. If the batter hits the ball and it touches the ground at least once before passing the boundary, then 4 runs are automatically scored. If the batter hits the ball and it passes the boundary without touching the ground, then 6 runs are scored.
If you barely understand the rules now, well the finer details of cricket get really complex. Another way for the batter to get out is to get called for a Leg Before Wicket (LBW). If the bowler bowls the ball and it hits the batter’s pad before hitting the bat and the ball was going to hit a bail, then an LBW may be called. However if the ball had bounced and was outside the line of a stump, then curled in, an LBW is not called. If the batsman has hit the ball and then it hits his pad an LBW is not called. As well if the bowler has bowled a no ball, then LBW cannot be called. A rare way to be out is being stumped. if the batsman’s back foot crosses the popping crease and they miss the ball, the wicket keeper can then catch the ball and try to knock the bails off the stumps before any part of the batsman crosses the batting crease (including his bat). Some crazy ways to get out are if you accidentally hit your own bails off their stumps, if you hit the ball twice with your bat then you are out. Some special cases that earn you extra runs are no-ball, wide, leg bye and bye. A no-ball is when the whole of the bowlers front foot passes the popping crease, one run is automatically scored, no exceptions. Another form of no-ball is when the bowler’s front foot passes an imaginary line that connects both middle stumps. The final form of no-ball is when the back foot touches or passes the return crease. Sometimes, a bowler will bowl a ball so wide a batsman cannot possibly hit it. In this case, the two runners may try to score a run without being run-out. A leg bye is when the ball hits the batsman’s pad and it is not an LBW then the runners may try to score runs. However, if the batsman made no attempt to hit the ball the umpire lets then runners run to see if they get run-out. If they don’t, then the runs do not count. An over is like an inning in baseball. A bowler bowls six times and then the over is over. When the over is finished, then either a new bowler or the same bowler bowls to the other side. In ODI matches, one team bowls for 50 overs and then the other team does the same. In Five-day Test, both teams have a total of five days to each complete 2 innings of cricket. An inning is over when 10 of the 11 batters are out in any form.
Once someone understands the craziness of cricket, then perfecting their technique and playing well every game is the next step. One player who definitely did this was Brian Lara. His career started early, being trained by the Harvard Coaching Clinic when he was six. He was just 14 when he was selected to Trinidad and Tobago’s U-16 team. The next year he was picked for the West Indies (a.k.a.Caribbean) U-19 team. He was merely 21 when he captained Trinidad and Tobago to the Geddes Grant Shield victory. When he was just 25 he broke two records most people lust to break. That is most runs in a single one-day international match (375) and most runs not out in a single club match. In 2003 his ODI run record was surpassed by Matthew Hayden. The next year Brian became the first player to retake the Test batting record by scoring 400 runs against England. He is an influential player because he did not perform well every time he played. Sure no one is perfect but when Brian scored, he scored centuries (100 runs in a game). However, the next 10 games or so, he would be limited to run totals of 0-50 runs. Another way he influences cricket is how young he was when he made country teams. He was 14 when he played for the U16 team and 15 when he played for the U19 team. This shows that he was a great young talent that weakened as he got older but still played good cricket.
One player who performed well in his entire cricket career was Sir Donald Bradman. Finding someone else who powered through their sport would be a tough challenge for anyone willing to try. Bradman dominated cricket during the 30’s and 40’s like it was going out of style. He has a staggering 99.94 batting average. The next closest is 61.88 by a player who only played 20 Test matches. Another staggering stat is that Bradman hit 29 centuries in 52 Test match games. That’s about the same as one century every 4 games. Because of WW2, Bradman was prevented the chance of dominating even more as no Test Cricket was played at this time. In his Test debut against England he scored a mere 19 runs and Australia lost by a huge 675 runs. In, the rest of the series he averaged 67 runs a game with a total of 468. His debut series gave only a glimpse as to what Bradman was going to do for cricket. In another series against England he scored 200 runs in 3 consecutive games, a feat matched by no other. A tactic was created to prevent Bradman from scoring because he was so good. This tactic was to hurl the ball at Bradman as fast as you could without it being called Wide to injure him. This tactic was quickly repealed to prevent from other bowlers getting ideas. Donald Bradman was also a part of the only known 2-0 series comeback by Australia. Bradman helped with 346 runs in the first game of the comeback. In his Final game ever in Test match play, he was merely 4 runs from having a 100 batting average. Unfortunately, bowler Eric Hollies dismissed him before he could score those 4 runs. This moment is considered “God’s Blob” by many fans and analyzers.
Shane Warne is potentially one of the only bowlers who could have bowled out Sir Donald Bradman and Brian Lara. He is an Aussie with a bleached blonde flop and a nasty leg spin. On his first pitch in his Test Debut, he caught Mike Gatting on a leg spin that was going to be wide, then turned skimmed past Mike’s leg and hit a bail. In his 15 year career, he amassed an incredible 708 wickets in 145 games, an average of 25 a game. He influenced the game by bringing back the leg spin in an era where fast bowling was the hype for bowlers. Time after time he would fool batters by making them think it was going wide then spinning it back in for the wicket. However good he may be, he had problems with drinking and other scandals. In 2003, Shane used an illegal substance and was banned from the World Cup that year. He was also given a 12 month suspension from cricket. Although this is true, in his first game played after his suspension, he took his 500th wicket becoming only the second bowler to do so. One time on a tour of England, Shane claims to have arrived weighing 81kg and leaving England with a weight of 100kg. This is mainly because he drank so much and “Ate lots of rubbish.” Although there may be controversies surrounding Shane, he was still a consistent bowler no matter what state he was in.