A cricket match is usually played between two teams of eleven players on an oval-shaped grass field. In the centre of the field is a strip of hardened turf 22 yards (20.12 m) long, called a cricket pitch. At each end a set of three tubular stakes called "stumps" are stuck upright in the earth with two small pieces of wood, called bails, balanced across the top of each set. These are the wickets, and a batsman stands in front of a wicket with his long wooden bat as he waits for a bowler to bowl the hard, fist-sized ball. The bowler bowls from just beside the wicket at the other end of the pitch. At the same time, the other members of the bowler's team stand in various positions around the field acting as fielders. If the batsman misses the ball, and the ball hits the wickets, he is out and his turn to bat is over. If he hits the ball into the air and a fielder catches it, he is out. If a ball which the umpire thinks is going to hit the wicket is blocked by batsman's legs, he is out lbw (leg before wicket). But if the batsman hits the ball, he and his batting partner, who is standing at the other end of the pitch, can run to the opposite ends of the pitch to score one run. They can score two runs by each running back again. Three runs are scored if each batsman runs three lengths of the pitch, and so on. But if a fielder gets to the ball and throws it at one of the wickets, and the ball hits the wicket before a running batsman crosses a line near the wicket called the crease, the batsman is "run out". In the Test match format, teams take turns to bat, and each team continues batting until ten players have gone "out", or until the team's captain "declares" and his team finishes its innings early. A captain can do this to ensure his team has a chance of winning the match, which they can only do if there's enough time left for both teams to complete two innings. If they do, the team with the highest run total wins. But if the five days allowed for the match have passed before both teams have completed two innings, the match is a draw. In the shorter forms of the game, each team has just one innings in which to bat, and the innings is sometimes limited to a fixed number of overs. The team scoring the most runs in its innings is the winner.
Most players specialize in batting (see right) or bowling, or they are "all-rounders", meaning they are good at both. Each team also has a wicketkeeper, who stands behind the wickets and catches any balls that aren't hit by the batsmen. The central contest in cricket is between a batsman and a bowler. A batsman's job is to hit shots and score runs, while a bowler tries to get batsmen out, or take wickets, while trying to prevent runs from being scored. A bowler bowls six overarm balls in one over, and then returns to his fielding duties while another bowler bowls another six-ball over from the other end of the pitch. There are several styles of bowlers, including fast bowlers, leg spinners, off spinners, swing bowlers and medium-paced bowlers. Most bowlers specialize in one type of delivery, and most deliveries are supposed to hit the pitch once and bounce up again before reaching the batsman. A ball which doesn't bounce, but reaches the batsman on the full, is a full-toss. Spin bowlers use the fingers or the wrist to put spin on the ball so that it doesn't come straight up off the pitch after bouncing, but bounces up at an unexpected angle. Swing bowlers try to get the ball to move unexpectedly through the air, while fast bowlers try to beat the batsmen with speed. If a batsman manages to hit the ball, he could hit one of several shots. These include drives, hooks, cuts and blocks. If a player hits a shot over the boundary line at the edge of the field on the full, he has "hit a six" and gets six runs. If the ball bounces or runs along the ground on the way to the boundary, he has "hit a four". One of the most important skills a batsman needs is the ability to place his shots between the fielders so that he won't be caught out, and so that he has time to score runs before a fielder can get to the ball and throw it back towards the wickets.
Over, in cricket, four balls delivered from one end to another. After anOVER has been bowled, the fielders, wicket-keepers, &c., change ends,and the bowling goes on from the recent batting wicket. A MAIDEN-OVERis an OVER from which no runs are obtained. Four balls is theregulation number to an OVER in all important matches; but littleclubs and practice elevens suit their own convenience. 2b1af7f3a8