Virtually South Africa™

Jacques Kallis bowls for South Africa Newlands Cricket Ground

Cricket for Baseball Players

The Basics

  • There are TWO teams, with eleven players each (instead of nine as in baseball).
  • Instead of four bases, there are only two; in the middle of the field, 22 yards apart (66 feet).
  • All running is between these two bases... the ball can be hit in front, behind or, in ANY direction.
  • Instead of rotating batting for nine innings each, EACH team does all its batting in a SINGLE inning, or one of two innings, depending on the format of the game.
  • The team scoring more runs wins the game.

Bowling (Pitching)

  • The fielding team works with TWO pitchers at the same time.
    • The first pitcher bowls (throws) from one base to the other.
    • After six balls have been bowled (thrown), the wicket-keeper (catcher) moves around behind the first pitcher's base, pitcher #2 takes over.
    • He makes six throws in the opposite direction (i.e. towards the starting pitcher's base).
    • The two pitchers keep alternating like this, until one or both of them are relieved.
    • Each six-pitch set is called an -over-, and pitchers are called -bowlers- in cricket. So, to say -Doe bowled seven overs-, is saying Doe threw 42 pitches, in (alternating) sets of six.


  • The MAJOR DIFFERENCE from baseball is that batters can hit in ANY direction.
  • Also, THE BATTER CAN RUN WHEN HE CHOOSES TO, NOT every time he hits the ball, as in baseball.
  • He is safe as long as he protects his wickets WITH HIS BAT (NOT his feet or hands) and makes no other errors.
  • As long as the batter can protect his base, he is free to keep batting, and scoring, as long as he can!
  • The batter (or -batsman-) is OUT only if;
    • any of the three sticks marking his base (called -wickets-) are hit by the pitcher --he is -bowled- (like being struck out, except that once is enough).
    • OR, if: the ball is hit into a fielder's hand without touching the ground, he is -caught- (like baseball's pop fly except cricketer's catch with their bare hands).
    • OR, if: he is running between the bases, and a fielder can touch the base he is running to (by dislodging the bails from the stumps) before the runner crosses the -safe line- in front of the wickets, he is -run out-
      (like a tag, except in cricket you tag the base, not the runner).
    • So: A cricket batter could be out on the first pitch, BUT would go on batting until someone puts him -out-
    • Some batters can stay on base for hours, scoring 50, 100 runs or more!

Scoring (Scoring Plays)

  • A batter (or -batsman-) can score in cricket by hitting the ball, deciding to run, then running safely between the two bases.
  • Once across (from one base, to the opposite one) is a -single-, scoring 1 run.
  • There and back is a -double-, scoring 2 runs.
  • There, back and there again is a -triple-, scoring 3 runs.
  • A hit that reaches the fence scores four runs.
  • A hit that flies over the fence is a six, scoring 6 runs.

Progress of Play

  • Before the game starts, the opposing captains toss a coin, to decide who is to bat first... or second.
  • The game begins.
  • TWO batters are sent in, one for each base (they are called -batsmen- in cricket). (I.e. the bases are -loaded- to start a team's batting, and have to stay that way.)
  • As one batter is put out, the next person in the batting order goes in.
  • In the USA, each team is allowed 10 outs OR a maximum number of overs....say 40 overs (i.e. 240 pitches)... to bat.
  • The inning is finished
    • EITHER when 10 outs have occurred ( i.e. 1 man is left on base, out of the 11 in the team),
    • OR when the over limit has been reached.
    • After one team finishes batting, there is a tea (actually, sandwiches, beer and pop) break.
    • Now the team which has been fielding gets its chance to bat.
    • Say the team batting first scored 120 runs. If the team batting second scores only 100 runs in its 40 overs, it has lost by 20 runs.
    • BUT.. if it reaches 121 runs for (say)only 6 outs within its allowed 40 overs, it wins by 4 -wickets- ( meaning, the number of outs it had left when it passed the first team's score).

Game Length

  • In the USA, a typical cricket game takes about as long as a weekend baseball double-header.
  • In fact, this is a useful way of looking at cricket if you understand baseball:
  • Each team's batting takes about as long, and has as many things happen, as a complete baseball game.
  • A typical cricket game in the USA might take 5 to 6 hours. This could consist of 4 to 5 hours of actual play, and the rest of the time for lunch, tea, refreshment breaks and other pauses.
  • This is about average. There CAN be low-scoring games that are over in 2 or 3 hours...
  • On the other hand, if both teams score 200 to 300 runs each, these VERY high-scoring games last seven hours... or more.
  • It all depends---on the day, the teams, the mood and the playing conditions.