Rules of Cricket

The Field

In baseball, the field is divided into fair and foul territory. In cricket, there is no foul territory.
A cricket field, or ground, is a roughly elliptical field of flat grass, ranging in size from about 120 to 200 metres (130-220 yards) across, bounded by an obvious fence, rope, or other marker. There is no fixed size or shape for the field, although large deviations from a low-eccentricity ellipse in this size range are discouraged.

The edge of the field is called the boundary.

In baseball, the field is notionally divided into right field and left field. Right field is toward first base (in front of a right-handed batter in batting stance, behind a left-handed one), left field is toward third base (behind a right-handed batter, in front of a left-handed one). In cricket, the off and leg sides are defined relative to the batsman. The area in the direction of where first base would be in baseball is the off side when a right-handed batsman is batting, but the leg side when a left-handed batsman is batting.
For ease of referring to different parts of the field, it is notionally divided into four quadrants, centred at the striking batsman. As the batsman stands in the batting stance:

Extra Detail: At the ends of the field, in line with the pitch, are often large screens with a uniform colour that contrasts with the ball. These sightscreens form a uniform background behind the bowler from the batsman's perspective, making it easier to sight the ball as it is bowled.

The Pitch

The pitch is a carefully prepared rectangle of closely mown and rolled grass over hard packed earth. It is in the centre of the field, usually aligned along the long axis of the ellipse. The pitch is marked with white lines, called creases, like this:

The two wickets are placed facing each other, one in the middle of each bowling crease, as shown. The popping creases notionally extend parallel to each other to infinity and are usually marked for several metres beyond the pitch area.

Extra Detail: A properly prepared pitch is very hard - almost like concrete. The aim is to prepare a pitch as flat and regular as possible, so the ball bounces evenly on it. As a match progresses, the pitch may begin to develop irregularities, including cracking of the surface, unflatness, and crumbling.
In baseball, professional games are sometimes played on artificial grass. In cricket, artificial grass and pitches made of other material such as coir matting on a concrete slab can be used, but are almost never used for professional matches.

Extra Detail: Preparation of the Pitch and Outfield

The pitch and outfield are both mown before play on every day of a match, if weather allows. The outfield may be watered, but the pitch may not be watered during a match.

Between each innings and before the start of play on the second and subsequent days of a match, the batting captain may request the pitch be rolled (with a hand-pushed or powered roller, such as is used on a grass tennis court) for up to 7 minutes. This is done to flatten any irregularities (and thus make batting easier).

The pitch and the bowlers run-ups are usually covered (with tarpaulins or more sophisticated equipment) if weather threatens to wet the field and play is not actually in progress. Covers must be removed as soon as practicable to allow the pitch to dry.

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Last updated: Saturday, 17 February, 2007; 15:18:10 PST.
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