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Cricket for dummies

By — Liz Clarke,

The rules of cricket are complicated, and can confound Americans weaned on baseball. Here’s an attempt to explain the basics of the game:

Cricket is played on a giant oval field, with a rectangular pitch in the middle. Each team has 11 players, and the teams take turns batting and fielding.

The batting team sends two people to the pitch at a time. The two batters stand at either end of the pitch in front of a two-foot-tall, 10-inch wide wicket. One batter tries to hit a ball that’s delivered by the bowler. In addition to the bowler and the wicket-keeper (a position akin to catcher) the other nine members of the team in the field stand at strategic spots around the oval cricket ground.

Once the ball bounces, the hitter tries to smack it with a bat. If the ball hits the wicket, the batter is out. If the batter hits the ball, he races to the opposite wicket, while his teammate races toward his wicket, trading places in the process. Runs are scored according to how far the ball flies or how many times the runners can tag the wickets with their bat before the fielding team retrieves the ball or throws them out.

Two big differences from baseball: The batter does not have to run after he hits the ball if he thinks he will be thrown out. He simply bats again. And there is no foul territory; the entire oval is in play.

— Liz Clarke

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