Don’t know much [if anything] about cricket? Join the club.
But as Long Island prepares to be one of four sites to host cricket's World Cup in 2024, here's your chance to learn about the game that has far more fans around the world than baseball.
So what is cricket? Well, it’s like baseball. Except it isn’t. And games — or matches — can last days, though most are one-day events formed of limited “overs” [the equivalent of innings] and teams bat until they’ve either completed their overs — or 10 of their batsmen have been “dismissed” by the fielding side. The goal, of course, is to score more runs than the opposing side.
That’s the basics, at least according to USA Cricket, Encyclopedia Britannica and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
But if only it were that simple. So here are some answers to common questions about the game.
Q: How many fans follow cricket worldwide?
An estimated 2.5 billion, compared to 3.5 billion soccer and just 500 million baseball fans.USA Cricket estimates there are 100,000-150,000 cricket fans in the Long Island-metro area.
Q: How many players are on each team?
While a Major League Baseball team has a 26-man roster and fields 9 players, each cricket side generally has 15 players and fields 11 — including a bowler, who is the equivalent of a pitcher. The position of catcher is a player called “the wicket-keeper.”
Q: Define a cricket field?
It’s called a pitch. The crease, which measures 22 yards by 10 feet, is in the center, with fair boundaries in a 360-degree oval, surrounded by boundary markers.
Q: How is batting and bowling counted?
Each turn is called an “innings” — yes, plural — and a bowler delivers six balls at one wicket to complete each “over” before a bowler from the other side delivers his or her six. The batting side defends the wicket.
Q: How do you score and record outs?
The bowler hurls the ball at a wicket, which looks like three sticks in the ground, 22 yards away.
There’s two batsman on the pitch at any given time, alternating the roles of striker and non-striker. When one batsman hits the ball each run to the opposite wicket, switching sides or ends.
The batsman can hit the ball in any direction while trying to keep it from striking the wicket sticks.
Bowlers throw overhand, but bounce the ball. If the batter connects, he or she runs between the stumps, while fielders attempt to field and beat the batter with a throw.
If the batter gets there safely, that’s one run or point. While it’s near-impossible to make the trip four times, it happens. Mostly, a batter will get one, two or three runs or points. You get four points if a ball crosses the boundary on one bounce or more, six if it crosses without a bounce. Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso would have fun.
Q: Do fielders wear gloves?
Yes and no. Unlike baseball, players don’t wear mitts but wear what amount to padded golf gloves. Some also field barehanded.
Q: What’s an average score?
It can be in the hundreds for each side.
Q: How are matches defined?
The quickest is a Twenty20. [That’s what will be featured in the World Cup here in 2024.] Each team has 20 overs and matches can last three hours. A One-Day Match lasts one day, each team batting once with 50 overs. A Test Match can last up to five days. Whew!
Q: Complicated, isn’t it?
Yes, and we haven’t even gotten into Leg Before Wicket, Run Out and Stumped, which is not only what we are but also what happens when the wicket-keeper puts down a wicket after a batsman has stepped “out of his grounds.”
As for LBW? That’s when a batsman is out if the ball hits them and the umpire decides it would have hit the wicket. Meaning all those times Anthony Rizzo got hit he’d be out — instead of being handed first base.