Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cricket Explained?

Having been here for over eight months, I decided it was finally time to try and understand cricket. Coincidentally, Friday marked the beginning of the Champions League which continues cricket's complete copy of the European soccer model (i.e., India has a "Premiere League" for club teams and now a Champion's League much like the UEFA event). The brand of cricket played in the Champions League (or CLT20) is 20/20, which is the made for TV version (i.e., a match last a couple hours and not five days). I'm happy to report that I might just understand how the game is played (though the terminology I use through the rest of this post is probably less than official).

In 20/20, each team gets to bat for 20 overs. Each over contains 6 balls which means each team gets 120 attempts to hit. Each team has around 10 people that bat. A person bats until they're considered out. So it's possible (though probably unlikely) that only one person could bat for the entire game. A batsmen can be called out in one of three ways, (1) they hit a ball that is directly caught by a fielder (like a fly-out in baseball), (2) the bowler (pitcher) gets the ball past them and a wicket (the building blocks set behind the batter) gets knocked over, or (3) after making contact and starting to run, if the batter is caught between the two lines they must run between to score runs. If all batters are out before the 20 overs are complete, the team is finished batting.

The scoring is fairly simple. When the batter makes contact, he runs back and forth between a couple lines making sure to be behind a line when the ball gets returned. Most hits that stay in the park result in either one or two runs. If the ball leaves the field of play on the ground, it's considered four runs. If the ball leaves the field of play without touching the ground, it's six runs.

There's a coin flip and the team that wins the flip typically elects to bat second so they know exactly what they need to do to win. The first team bats for their 20 overs (or until everyone is out) then the second team does the same. The team with the most runs wins. Pretty simple.

If you see a score for a team that reads 169-3, it means that a team scored 169 runs and that three of their players were out. So even if one team has 169-3 and one has 182-5, the team with 185 wins even though they had more players out. If one player scores 100 runs before making an out, it's called a century and is a big deal.

Now that I've mastered 20/20 cricket (or at least enough that I think I know what's going on; I could be completely wrong), here's a few random observations from my first extended viewing experience:
  • Commercials tend to happen at random times and happen quite frequently. Many commercials are just promotions for the CLT20.
  • The best commerical is for Kingfisher Premium Drinking Water. The commercial shows a number of players from various teams and ends with the slogan, "Divided by teams, united by Kingfisher." Effective marketing made even more so because Dr. Vijay Mallya, the Indian Richard Branson, is basically able to use his airline and drinking water to indirectly market his beer. Genius.
  • Even the Indian teams have cheerleaders that resemble NBA cheerleaders, which is surprising considering the conservative nature of the culture. I guess what makes it appropriate is that there appears to be very few Indian cheerleaders.
  • I've decided that I am a Mumbai Indians fan. When else in life will I have the opportunity to root for a team called the Indians and not have to justify the social implications of the team name?
  • The Indians best player is Sachin Tendulkar. From what I can gather, he's kind of a big deal and has both the stats of a steroid-aided Alex Rodriguez and the class and integrity of Derek Jeter. Earlier this year he recorded cricket's first double century.
I have no idea how much I really understand and I could easily be wrong on a lot of this stuff; however, even with my understanding as it stands right now, I can appreciate where the game might be more exciting than the ground-ball home run derby I previously understood it to be.


  1. You've got most of it right John (good work!). It's a much more strategic game than it's given credit for the Western world. There are many other aspects to understand (no ball, wide ball, off-wicket, LBW, etc.). Keep up the learning!

  2. Ranju, it's definitely much more strategic than I originally thought. It still seems like it's relatively difficult to make an out, which I suppose increases the penalty if it happens early enough while someone's up to bat especially given that you only get that one shot in a match. I actually found myself watching another match on Sunday so it seems to have made an impact. I'm still at a loss for the rules of the on the bowling side you mentioned (and what constitutes good location for a bowl) but I'm sure that will come with time and experience.