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Cricket Explained By An American (Who's Never Seen Cricket)

I, an ignorant American, just watched my first cricket match. Here's what I took away from it.

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Cricket is a little like baseball, but totally different in almost every way.

David Gray / Reuters

(I'm not sure why these men have their hands in the air, but I can only imagine it has something to do with stumps or wickets or something.)

Except in cricket, the bases are called wickets, and there's only two of them, and you run back and forth between them like madmen.

David Gray / Reuters

(These guys are either running between wickets or celebrating. It's impossible to say for sure.)

Also, for some reason, there are two batters on the field at once, and they both run in opposite directions when one of them hits the ball? No idea why.

You score more points the more times you run back and forth between the bases, which I think you can usually only do once or twice before the outfielders throw the ball back in.

Outs are called "ducks" in cricket, and there are special ducks depending on the situation like golden ducks and silver ducks.

David Gray / Reuters

(While the man in this photo is indeed ducking, this is not a "duck." He's just trying not to get hit by that fast-moving ball.)

Unlike a pitcher, who stands on the pitching mound and uses finely crafted movements to precisely throw a ball, a bowler gets a running start from clear out in the outfield and aggressively hurls the ball overhand as hard as humanly possible.

So instead of aiming for a strike zone, the bowler is just trying to knock these little sticks called "bails" off of the bigger sticks called "stumps." Feels a little primitive to me.

Except, the batsman is standing directly in front of the wicket, so mostly the bowlers are hurling these balls at like 90mph right at the batsman's head.

So instead of getting a big swing and rocketing the ball out the park, batsman are mostly just using the bat to protect themselves so most of the time the ball just sort of bounces off.

A batsman can also get out because of something called a "leg before wicket" which BBC's website claims is easy to understand, but requires 15 pages to explain it, so I'm not even going to try to wrap my head about that one.

If one of the fielders doesn't like the call the ump makes, they can shout "howzat!?" as a legitimate way to challenge the call and stop play.

A runner is trying to score as many points as he can before he's thrown or bowled out. Sometimes that can be a lot of points.

When a batter gets thrown or bowled out, the next batsman comes in. There are ten batsmen in total. When all ten are thrown or bowled out, the round is over. (That might be what an inning is in cricket?)

Via youtube.com

(I couldn't find a good way to illustrate these rules, so here's a seagull eating a Cheezle on a cricket field. I'm not sure how many points that's worth.)

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