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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.

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.)

Instead of a diamond and an outfield, the field is a big oval, and most of the action happens towards the middle, which seems like a waste.

(What do you guys do with all this space back here?) / Tanner Ringerud / BuzzFeed

Like baseball, you hit a ball, and there are fielders who try to catch it and throw you out.

David Gray / Reuters

Except outfielders in cricket don't use mitts, which I imagine stings quite a bit.

David Gray / Reuters

(Seriously, they're only like $20 at Rebel Sports. Just buy a few for the outfielders, at least.)

Also like baseball, you run between "bases."

Bob Dechiara/Usa Today Sports
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

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.)

There's also something called a popping crease. I think it's the line the batter stands behind when he bats? Whatever it is, it sounds gross.

Alex Livesey / Getty Images

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.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

(Also, batters are called batsmen, which makes them sound like they're super-heroes.)

David Gray / Reuters - Tanner Ringerud / BuzzFeed

Like baseball, cricket has cleanup hitters that come in later in the line-up called "nightwatchmen," which, again, make them sound like super-heroes.

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.

David Gray / Reuters

The fielding positions all have crazy names like "silly point" and "gully" and "cow corner." It sort of seems like the announcer makes them up as he goes.

20th Century Fox /

Inside-the-park home runs are worth four points in cricket, and proper home runs are worth six points.

David Gray / Reuters

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.)

Golden ducks are embarrassing for batsmen because it means you got out on the very first ball you were thrown.

There's a guy who is like a pitcher, but he's called a bowler, and he actually does sort of throw the ball more like he's bowling it than pitching it.

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.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters

I think the bowler is aiming to hit the wicket behind the batsman. If they can manage to hit the wicket, I'm pretty sure the batsman is out.

David Gray / Reuters

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.

David Gray / Reuters

(That explains the big goofy gloves and shin guards.)

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.

David Gray / Reuters

It's also probably worth mentioning that cricket balls are way harder than baseballs. They're essentially just throwing rocks at one another.

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.

Nikhil Monteiro / Reuters - Tanner Ringerud / BuzzFeed

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.


(I'm pretty sure this move is worth like a thousand 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?)


(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.)

I'm pretty sure each Batman on each team goes twice, and whichever team has the most points wins.

Also, I think that's just the rules for something called a test match, but there are other types of games and sometimes they last like five days.

Cricket also has really die-hard fans. I have absolutely no idea what this means, but it feels like it's probably a really great insult.

Oh, and one time this dude named Andrew Strauss threw a cricket ball so hard it destroyed his sunglasses, which was pretty bad ass.

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