Two teams, eleven players in each of them, one ball, one bat… It doesn’t seem like that hard to understand cricket (pronounced “cricket”). And yet … A few months before the 12th edition of the Men’s Cricket World Cup, which will take place from Thursday May 30 to Monday July 15, 2019 in Great Britain, it is high time to learn more about this team sport if little known in France, but very famous in the United Kingdom and in the member states of the Commonwealth.
With over 1.5 billion cricket fans in the 53 Commonwealth of Nations (including South Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, etc.) , it is legitimate to think that this sport is of British origin. At least that’s what we believed until the surprising discovery, three years ago, of the first written record of a match report dating from 1478 and which took place … in France . It is the oldest document referring to cricket ever found. According to experts, the sport would therefore have been imported from France to Great Britain from the 16th century and would thus have accompanied the development of the English colonial empire, hence its popularity in India or Australia for example.
How it works ?
It sounds like baseball but don’t get me wrong, cricket is a whole different sport.
The basic rules
Team sport of balls and bats therefore, it opposes two teams of 11 players – who cannot be replaced during the game – in a series of sets on a field, which is mostly oval. Each team alternates between attack and defense, the players of both camps taking turns after each “over”, in other words each series of six balls.
In the field
During a round, on the field there is a pitcher and the ten other members of his team, called hunters, and two beaters of the opposing team. The process is simple: the thrower sends the ball aiming at the “wicket”, a wooden structure located behind the batter. The latter must defend it and return the ball as far as possible in order to have as much time as possible to run and exchange positions with the second batsman, located in the opposite zone (placed a little over 20 meters) .
The goal is for the batsmen to alternate their places before one of the opposing team’s hunters brings the ball to the “wicket”. If so, he then scores points (called “runs”). Usually on a bat, only one or two runs are scored.
However, when the batter hits the ball directly out of bounds he scores six points (called a “sixier”) and when the ball goes out of bounds with one or more bounces, he scores four (called “boundary”).
If one of the hunters catches the ball in mid-flight or if the ball hits the wooden structure, the batter is eliminated directly from the inning – which ends when there is only one batter on the field. Also, if the batter prevents the ball from passing with his body, especially his leg, he is out (called “leg before wicket”).
Who wins the match?
To win the match, all you have to do is score the most runs and therefore win the most rounds. These end when either the batting team has only one batsman available, or when the team captain declares or withdraws (voluntary end of a set), or in “twenty20” when the number of throws has been reached.
The duration of a match
The duration of a cricket match may differ. The “traditional” form, used during test-matches (international matches), is the longest. The match, which takes place over four rounds – two per team – can then last up to five days (with a limit of six hours on the day), except in the event of an early victory of one of the two opponents.
In the World Cup, this long version is reduced to “one-day”. As the name suggests, the match takes place over one day.
Finally, there is also the “twenty20”, even shorter and simpler. This is played over a single round of 20 throws for each team and does not exceed a few hours of play.
There are great batsmen who can keep a team in check for hours. Any game that is not finished is considered a draw (unless one of the two camps gives up during the match). However, when a team has a substantial points lead, its captain may end the round by declaring that their side’s tour is over. This is called the “declaration”, which has the effect of speeding up the progress of the game.
Due to the special rules of cricket, it often happens that a single match lasts several days. A limit is assigned to the daily time allotted to the game, and the game is resumed the next day, at the point where it was left. In international matches, matches last five to six days. Competitions between counties are usually played over two or three days. The final of the Cricket World Championship took place on March 23, 2003 in Johannesburg. Australia has crushed India by 125 “runs” and thus retains its crown of world champion acquired in 1999 in England.
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