Cricket

Set up a rousing game of cricket in your backyard.

cricket excitement
Knocking the bails off the wickets is one of the most exciting moments in a game.

Cricket. It's the funny game where those people seem to stand around in white clothes doing, well, something for a very, very long time. Boring and stuffy, you say. Well, pick up a cricket bat and you'll soon discover that even those with hand-and-eye coordination issues can hit a ball over the boundary line.

Try knocking the bails off the wickets and you and your teammates will be screaming with delight as they fall. Swing at the ball and you and your partner will be running past one another calling out encouragement. The game is infectious. So invite your family and friends over, stock the ice chest with drinks, and put these backyard rules to the test -- there's a game of cricket that needs playing.

Object of the Game

starting position
The batter stands in front of the wickets facing sideways while waiting for the ball delivery.

A bowler stands behind one crease and throws the ball to the batter standing in front of the opposite crease. The batter attempts to hit the ball as far as he or she can so the batters have more time to run between the wickets and score points. Similar to baseball, fielders will either catch the ball or run it down. When the batters run to switch places in an attempt to score a run, fielders try to knock the bails off the stumps before a batter safely gets a bat or body part across the crease.

Fielders can run and throw the ball from anywhere. A fielder out by the boundary line would typically throw the ball to a fielder standing directly by the wickets, called a wicket keeper, which is similar to a catcher. The wicket keeper would then throw the ball at the wicket in an attempt to knock the bails off the stumps. If the batters have stopped running and are safe, the fielder would throw the ball back to the bowler, who would bowl again.

Depending on the type of cricket being played, the length of a game can vary from an afternoon to five days. We don't imagine your guests want to sit around for five days -- no matter how good your cooking might be -- so we've shortened the game considerably and taken broad liberties with the rules. You need just a few pieces of equipment to get started.

Backyard Rules

chalky hands
Setting up to play is easy. Youjust need a little householdflour and the strength to pushwicket stumps into the ground.

Use flour to create the lines delineating the rectangular pitch. You will need to make crease or safety lines inside the ends of the pitch.

Cricket is usually played with the pitch centered in an oval, so designate a boundary. Use backyard elements to form the boundary, such as a group of trees, the house, an arbor, etc. Everyone should agree where the boundary line is. For our backyard game, the house and the flowerbeds served as the boundary.

cricket post
A wicket is a set of three stumps and two bails positioned at each end of the pitch.

Balance bails on top of the stumps. Use the bails to help you determine how far apart the stumps should be placed from one another. The stumps are spiked on one end. Push them into the ground with your hands, then balance the bails on top.

Time to Play

Ensure everyone gets to play continuously by creating teams of two people. Create as many teams as you have people to play.

For a backyard game, create four teams of two. Team A bats first, while team B, C, and D all field, working together to stop Team A from scoring. Each team gets an opportunity to bat while the others are in the field. When you call an end to the game, the winner is the team with the most runs (or points). To shorten the game, each team has the opportunity to play up to five overs (six thrown balls).

A team can strike out three times within the five overs. On strikeout number three, the batting team's turn is over -- even if its five overs are not up. The team takes the score it has earned up to that point. You can adjust the number of strikeouts to the ability of the those playing.

Scoring

Batters score points by one of the following methods:

cricket home run
Scoring begins with a great swing.
  • By running between the wickets. To earn one point, the two batters on the field must run at the same time to the wicket where the other was previously standing. If there's enough time, the batters can switch places more than once on a batted ball, scoring one run for each successful switch. If the batters have made one run safely and strike out on an attempt to earn a second run, they still keep the first point. Remember that a batter is safe once his or her bat is across the crease.
  • By hitting the ball to the boundary line. If a batter hits the ball and a fielder is unable to stop it before it reaches the boundary line, then the batter automatically scores 4 points and does not need to run. The ball can bounce or roll to the boundary line.
  • By hitting the ball over the boundary line. If a batter hits the ball over the boundary line without it touching the ground, the batter automatically scores 6 points for his or her team without needing to run.
  • If batters hit the ball long, they should always start to run to ensure they earn points. If it becomes obvious that a ball has gone for a 4- or a 6-point score, then both batters should immediately return to guard their respective wicket and conserve their energy.

Striking Out

Batters go out by one of the following methods:

  • Stumped. If one or both bails are knocked off when a batter is not across the crease, or line of safety, then a batter is out. Fielders can catch either batter off guard. One batter can be safe across a crease while the other is not. As long as the bails are knocked off the set of stumps in front of the batter who is not safe, the batter's team receives an out.
  • Bowled. If a bowler throws the ball and knocks one or both bails off while a batter attempts to hit the ball, then the batter is out.
  • Caught. If a fielder catches a batted ball on the fly, like a pop fly in baseball, then the batter is out.
  • If a batter hits the wicket. If a batter knocks one or both bails off the stumps when trying to hit the ball, then the batter is out.
  • Hitting the ball twice. The ball can touch a batter's bat or any part of him or her only once. If the ball accidentally touches a batter's body, then he or she hits the ball, the batter is out.

Bowling

throwbowl
A cricket bowl is similar to a baseball pitch because it'sthrown overhand with the ballgripped between your first twofingers and thumb.
  • For backyard game purposes, a bowler can throw the ball from wherever he or she feels most comfortable. It works best if the bowler stands behind the pitch lines at a distance from the batter that suits the power of the bowler's throw.
  • The ball is thrown overhand and generally bounces a few feet in front of the batter. The batter then hits the ball off the bounce. Bouncing the ball isn't mandatory, however, so a batter should protect his or her wicket no matter what.
  • After six balls are thrown (an "over" is complete), another fielder becomes the bowler. In backyard cricket, all fielders must bowl before the first bowler bowls again.

How to Bat

hand position
Firmly grip a cricket bat with both hands; your thumb and fingers should form V shapes.
  • Batters use the flat side of the bat to hit the ball.
  • Both batters hold bats throughout the course of their turn. After a batter hits a ball, both batters run toward the opposite crease with their bats in hand, preferably held out in front to cross the crease, or safety line, first. A cricket bat should never be dropped like it would be in a game of baseball or softball.
  • If a ball is badly thrown, batters are not required to hit the ball. If a batter does not hit a ball, he or she can still make a run for it if both batters have enough time to reach each other's crease safely. (This instance usually occurs when the bowler overthrows the ball and the wicket keeper does not catch it immediately.) Likewise, there is no penalty if a batter fails to hit a well-thrown ball -- the batters just don't earn any points off that bowl because they did not run.
  • Batters need to communicate with each other. The batter who is standing by waiting to run has a better view of the field and should call "run" or "don't run" to the player at bat. It is not necessary to run if you hit the ball and it's obvious the fielders are going to reach the ball quickly.

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