March 30, 2011

Cricket Question: I try to pride myself on understanding as many games as possible. From the ancient Chinese board game Wei-chi, which we know in the US as Go, to the advanced intricacies of Rugby, Hockey, American Football, and Baseball. I've even fashioned a crude rugby ball out of an old football, and can explain even the most complex Curling situations to my friends and family. Previously, after seeing a sports science where a baseball player took only 5 minutes to solve the puzzle of cricket batting, I was very negatively disposed to the game, thinking "if a baseball player can be hitting long bombs after a few minutes, then its obviously not that interesting to watch". But my curiosity got the best of me, and I found that cricket was considered a "Batter's game" rather than baseball's pitcher-centric style, and it made more sense to me. Although I don't see myself following Cricket as religiously as I picked up Rugby, I'd like to know a few more things about it; more specifically...

1) If a game has a limited number of overs, as many do today, and overs are based on pitches, as opposed to outs, then it seems possible that a game could have 40 overs without having an out. If this is true, why don't bowlers just bowl avoiding both the wickets and the batter, like a "pitch-out" in baseball? Is there some kind of rule as to what really constitutes a legal throw from the pitcher?

2) I've been led to believe that there are incredibly many ways to get a player out, but when I read into the sport, it seemed like it was very simple, either the bowler hits the wickets, you hit a pop-fly (i know thats not the term they use, s'all good), or they get to the base you're headed to before you. Is it really that simple? people made it sound so intimidatingly complicated.

3) Besides there being 20 overs in a Twenty20 game, are there any more significant differences. I heard a variation on this idea suggested for rugby, and thought it might have been the worst idea I've ever heard, which, knowing my friends, is surprising.

posted by nados to navel gazing at 07:44 PM - 10 comments

Hi nados. We have a locker room (see top right) for questions like this. Hopefully rcade or someone will move this conversation there.

Quick answers:

1. If the bowler delivers a ball that can't be reasonably reached from a batsman in his normal batting stance, the umpire will rule what's called a "wide". This means the batting team not only gets an extra run added to the total, but the bowler has to bowl the ball again. Wides are very strictly applied in limited over games.

2. There are 11 ways to get out, but most batsmen get out either caught, bowled or LBW (leg before wicket). I won't explain LBW here - as a rule, it's the equivalent of offside in soccer, icing in hockey or the infield fly in baseball.

3. Test cricket is limited by five days, and tow innings per side. The main limited over contests are 50 overs (One Day Internationals) or Twenty20 (20 overs).

An Indian friend once explained to me that the variations are like a maharajah with three wives. The Test cricket wife lives in the ceremonial bedroom, and is only visited when he has to. The 50 over wife is the one where he feels he has to visit a bit more regularly, especially on her birthday every 4 years (the World Cup). The Twenty20 wife, however, is the one who is always dressed provocatively and waving at you from the bedroom door.

/Apologies for the implied sexism

posted by owlhouse at 08:11 PM on March 30, 2011

it seems possible that a game could have 40 overs without having an out.

This happened in this world cup, between England and Sri Lanka.

England scored 229/6, (229 runs, six wickets lost) and Sri Lanka replied with 231/0 as the opening batsmen, Tillakaratne Dilsan and Upul Tharanga scored 108 and 102 respectively.

You'll notice that 108 + 102 = 210... The other 21 runs came from variations on the "extras." 6 of the wides that Owl mentioned, 6 leg byes and 9 byes.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 08:44 PM on March 30, 2011

Can someone explain to me the use of "wicket" that I have bolded in the following text from this article?:

He admitted that India had misjudged the wicket, but felt their safety-first strategy meant they had got away with it. "The wicket got slower as the game progressed, that's why the new-ball game was very different. After losing two wickets, what was important was to bat 50 overs. In big games you shouldn't always look to score 300 runs. You see the wicket is behaving in a different way and readjust your target."

Is he referring to the pitch? If so, is that a common usage or a south Asian thing?

posted by holden at 12:17 PM on March 31, 2011

Yeah... "wicket" is used to describe more than one thing. Not purely to confuse newcomers to the sport, honest.

None of these ways refer to Ewoks.

In the instance you've posted "wicket" is being used to describe the general conditions of the field they're playing on - specifically the parts the batsmen are concerned with.

It's used this way all over the (cricketing) world, I believe. Certainly in England we talk about "preparing a wicket" a certain way - which is making the grass and ground respond a certain way over the day/five days to suit the kind of bowlers that are strong in the team.

Certain cricket grounds have a reputation for being certain types of wicket and the groundskeeper will prepare the wicket to either accentuate his own team's strengths, or attempt to neuter the opponents.

You'll sometimes also hear it referred to as a "track." For example a "flat track" is one where the ball isn't going to do much off the surface at the point where it hits the ground, handing advantage to the batsman.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:32 PM on March 31, 2011

The talk of "the new ball" is because they use the same ball in cricket - none of this throwing a new ball out to the pitcher after every slog.

In the test game a ball has to last 80 overs, (80x6 = 480 deliveries), before the bowling team is offered the "new ball" (which they don't have to take).

In the 50 over game a new ball is offered after 34 overs, I think.

This means the ball deteriorates over the course of the game and you'll generally have your fastest meanest bowlers use the brand new ball, while it's at its hardest and then after it has been smacked about a bit, you'll give it to a slower bowler, or a bowler who has reverse swing in his repertoire, who'll use the damage to both the ball and the wicket to make the ball do unexpected things.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:39 PM on March 31, 2011

Thanks, Mr. B. I suspected from the context that this was the case (in terms of the wicket referring to the pitch or the portion of the pitch around the batsman). A little confusing to those without much cricket knowledge, in that wicket refers to a tangible physical object, a portion of real estate, and something that is "taken."

posted by holden at 12:54 PM on March 31, 2011

This is the first explanation of cricket I've found that's made perfect sense to me (mind you, I haven't look that hard). Doesn't leave me unconvinced that England only had an empire so that it would have cricket opponents, but cricket does appear much more strategically/tactically interesting than baseball.

posted by kokaku at 12:59 PM on March 31, 2011

thanks, I was reading a shorter article relating cricket to baseball, and they definitely left out many of the intricacies, such as wides and byes. I think I'll stick to my own, but at least I wont be sitting there drooling like an idiot if i ever watch any cricket. I wonder, do cricketers find it as ridiculous for a pitcher to have so much dominance in baseball as I do for the batter to have such an easy time in cricket?

posted by nados at 05:55 PM on March 31, 2011

Batsmen having an easy time in cricket?

Sure, they are out in the middle for longer than baseballers, but bowlers are allowed to aim for the body and head (there are restrictions on how often). This is accepted as a legitimate tactic to get him out or at least upset him psychologically.

The state of the pitch/wicket can also be a factor. Wet pitches, or those with a good covering of grass, can favour the bowler and the game then becomes one of survival.

posted by owlhouse at 08:33 PM on March 31, 2011

by an easy time, its meant that in cricket, the majority of successes occurs with the batsman. It you dont count being beaned, hitting a cricket ball well is considerably easier to pick up by and athlete than hitting a baseball. In baseball, pitching, while considerably difficult, is where most of the success lies. In cricket, it is the opposite, the batsman has the most success. The bowler is trying to beat him, rather than the batter trying to beat the pitcher, like in baseball.

posted by nados at 08:39 PM on April 01, 2011

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