Rules of Cricket

The Play

In baseball, the visiting team always bats first. In cricket, who bats first is chosen by the team winning a coin toss.

The Toss

A cricket match begins with the toss of a coin. One of the team captains calls the toss. The winner of the toss may elect to either bat or field first.

Extra Detail: There is a lot of strategy involved in electing whether to bat or field first. See Strategy and Tactics for a full discussion.


In baseball, the terminology is "one inning, many innings". In cricket, it is "one innings, many innings".
In baseball, an inning refers to both teams' turns at bat. Each individual team's turn at bat is a half inning. In cricket, an innings usually refers to each individual team's turn at bat. "The first innings" may refer to either the first innings of team A, or team B, or the first innings of both teams considered together - the difference is understood by context.
In baseball, you cannot simply declare your inning to be over. You wouldn't want to anyway - there's no tactical reason. In cricket, you may declare your innings closed to avoid taking up too much time.
A cricket match progresses by the sides taking alternate turns to bat while the other side fields. Each turn of a side batting is called an
innings. An innings is completed when either: When one side's innings is over, the other side has its innings. A match may be played with either two or one innings for each side (agreed before the game begins).

At the start of an innings, all eleven players of the fielding team go out to field, two players of the batting team go out to bat. The remainder of the batting team wait off the field for their turn to bat. Each batsman wears protective gear and carries a cricket bat.

Extra Detail: Following On

In a match of 2 innings per side, if the side batting second scores 200 or more runs fewer than the side batting first in the first innings, then the captain of the side batting first may request the side batting second to have its second innings immediately following its first innings. This is called the follow on.

The 200 run threshold for following on applies in matches of 5 or more days duration. In a 3 or 4 day game, the follow on threshold is 150 runs; in a 2 day game it is 100 runs; in a 1 day game it is 75 runs.

The Result

In baseball, extra innings are added to break tied scores. In cricket, ties stand. Baseball also does not have the concept of a draw caused by running out of time.
The match ends immediately when either:
  1. One side has completed (all) its innings, and the second side, while batting last, surpasses the first side's total number of runs. The second side has won.
  2. In a two-innings match, one side has completed one innings, and the second side has completed both its innings without equalling or surpassing the first side's total number of runs. The first side has won.
  3. Both sides have completed (all) their innings, and one side has scored more runs. The side scoring more runs has won.
  4. Both sides have completed (all) their innings, and both sides have scored the same number of runs. The result is a tie.
  5. One side concedes defeat. The other side has won.
  6. Time allotted for playing the match runs out before either side can win. The result is a draw. Note that a draw is different to a tie.

Extra Detail: Statement of The Result

Corresponding to the numbered list above:
  1. The result is stated as "<name of second side> Won by N Wickets", where N is the number of batsmen the first side still needed to get out to end the second side's innings.
  2. The result is stated as "<name of first side> Won by An Innings and N Runs", where N is the difference between the total numbers of runs scored by the sides.
  3. The result is stated as "<name of first side> Won by N Runs", where N is the difference between the total numbers of runs scored by the sides.
  4. The result is stated as "Match Tied".
  5. The result is stated as "Match Conceded".
  6. The result is stated as "Match Drawn".

Play of the Ball

In baseball, the ball is live between pitches. Runners may steal bases, and may be tagged out. In cricket, the ball is dead between balls. Batsmen may not steal runs, and may not be run out.

Live and Dead Ball

There are two distinct states of play in cricket:

A Ball

In baseball, a ball is one possible result of a pitch. In cricket, ball refers to the analogue of a baseball pitch. Every time the bowler bowls, it is a ball. A ball may also called a delivery.
In baseball, all fielders wear catching gloves. In cricket, only the wicket-keeper is allowed to wear gloves. Everyone else has to catch the ball in their bare hands. The bowler is analagous to a baseball pitcher. The wicket-keeper is analagous to a baseball catcher.
An innings progresses by the bowling of balls. The sequence of events which constitutes a ball follows:

The members of the fielding side disperse around the field at the orders of the team captain, to positions designed to stop runs being scored or to get batsmen out. One fielder is the bowler. He takes the ball and stands some distance behind one of the wickets (i.e. away from the pitch). Another fielder is the wicket-keeper, who wears a pair of padded gloves designed for catching the ball. He squats behind the opposite wicket, ready to catch the ball if the batsman misses it.

In baseball, the batter must stand within the batter's box. In cricket, the batsman may stand anywhere he likes.
In baseball, the batter holds his bat over his shoulder, cocked ready to swing, and swings horizontally. In cricket, the batsman holds his bat with the end on the ground near his toes, requiring a backswing before swinging to hit the ball, and usually swings vertically.
One batsman stands near each wicket. The batsman farthest from the bowler is the striker, the other is the non-striker. The striker stands before his wicket, on or near the popping crease, in the batting stance. A right-handed batsman will usually position his feet roughly as shown by the footprints:

The batsman stands with his bat held down in front of the wicket, ready to hit the ball, which will be bowled from the other end of the pitch. The batsman usually rests the lower end of the bat on the pitch and then taps the bat on the pitch a few times as "warm-up" backswings. The non-striker simply stands behind the other popping crease, waiting to run if necessary.

In baseball, the pitcher stands still and throws the ball. The batter is 18.44m (60' 6") away. In cricket, the bowler runs up and bowls the ball. The batsman is 17.68m (58') away.
In baseball, if one runner is out, the ball is still live and the fielding team may attempt a double play. In cricket, as soon as one batsman is out, the ball is dead, so double plays cannot be made.
The bowler takes a run-up from behind the non-striker's wicket. The ball becomes live when he begins his run-up. He passes to one side of the wicket, and when he reaches the non-striker's popping crease he bowls the ball overarm towards the striker, usually bouncing the ball once on the pitch before it reaches the striker.

The striker may then attempt to hit the ball with his bat.

Once the ball is dead, it is returned to the bowler for the next ball.

Extra Detail: The bowler may bowl from either side of the wicket, but must inform the umpire and the batsmen if he wishes to change sides. Bowling with the bowling arm closest to the wicket is called over the wicket, and is most common. Bowling with the non-bowling arm closest to the wicket is called around the wicket.

A bowler may abort his run-up or not let go of the ball at the delivery stride if he loses his timing or footing. There is no penalty. A batsman may also also abort a ball during the bowler's run-up if unavoidably distracted (e.g. by an insect or dust in the eye) - he does so by taking a deliberate and obvious step away from his batting stance and usually waving a hand toward the umpire. In either case, the umpire signals dead ball immediately.


In baseball, one pitcher pitches until he is relieved, then (usually) leaves the game. A succession of pitchers may pitch, but none return to pitch again. In cricket, bowlers rest in the field while other players bowl. They can then return to bowl more later.
An over is six consecutive balls bowled by one bowler. After an over is completed, the bowler retires his role as bowler and moves to a fielding position. A different member of the fielding side, chosen by the captain, becomes the bowler for the next over.

Consecutive overs are bowled from opposite ends of the pitch. The batsmen do not change ends, so the roles of striker and non-striker swap after each over. Any member of the fielding team may bowl, so long as no bowler delivers two consecutive overs. Once a bowler begins an over, he must complete it, unless injured or suspended during the over.

Extra Details: If a bowler is injured or suspended during an over, the over must be completed by a different player from the fielding team, chosen by the captain. Any player except the one who bowled the previous over may complete the over. The next over must be bowled by a different player again.

There will generally be 5 or more players skilled at bowling in a cricket team. The captain usually alternates two bowlers for a spell of overs, then replaces one or both of them so they can rest while other bowlers take over. The choice of who bowls the next over is an important tactical decision, made by the captain.

Historically, the number of balls in an over has varied:

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