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A Dummies Guide To Cricket

So The Ashes has finally started and the fight for the famous urn has begun, meaning that even those who aren't die hard cricket fans, get in the spirit of supporting the nation’s most British sport. But how many of us REALLY understand what’s going on as we stare at the TV screen? Admittedly, not everyone… so we created a general breakdown of The Ashes Tournament to give you the knowledge needed to make it through to August… we promise to make it as easy as possible. 

Firstly, The Ashes is a Test Cricket Tournament, Not a Limited-Overs Game… Not the Same! 

The quickest way to tell the difference between the two, is by the colour of their kits. When the players are all in white and using a red ball, it is a test cricket match, but when it is played in coloured clothing, using a white ball, it is a limited-overs match.


The second way to tell them apart, is the length of the game. A Test match is always played over the course of five days, with each day consisting of six hours and 90 overs bowled. The Ashes Tournament includes 5 tests in total, which will all take place between 8th July and 24th August, this year.

How The Game Goes Down

Test cricket allows each team (let’s call them Team A and Team B) to bat twice (each time is called an innings) and each team bats until either 10 batsmen are out, or the captain of the batting side declares so (as a cheeky tactic). 

After the first innings (when both teams have batted once), if Team B are dismissed with a score 200 runs or more behind Team A, then Team A can choose whether to make Team B bat first in the second innings. 
If Team B must bat first in the second innings and their score from both innings doesn’t mount up to Team A’s score from the first innings, then Team A wins. However, if it does surpass their score, Team A must bat for the second time, in hope to beat Team B’s score and win. Yet, if they lose all batsman before reaching Team B’s score, then Team B wins BUT if time runs out before either of these things has happened, the game is a draw.

If this is not enforced, or Team B have a large enough score, Team A will bat first in the second innings until 10 batsmen are out, they declare finished or time runs out (again, meaning in a draw). If, after batting twice, Team A’s total is less than Team B’s first innings, Team B wins. If not, Team B bats again until they are out. 

After everyone has batted twice, whoever’s score is higher, wins. But if Team B are dismissed before the time is out, then it’s a draw.

Some of The Terminology (Because if we Listed all of it, We’d Need a Dictionary) 

Attacking Shot – A shot of aggression or strength designed to score runs.

Enforcing the follow-on – Making the second team bat first in the second innings. 

Declaration – Choosing to stop batting despite still having batsmen in the game.

Bye – An extra scored when both the batsman and the wicket-keeper miss a bowler’s delivery.

Crease – A line on the pitch near the wickets over which a batsman must pass to score a run.

Cut – A shot played square on the off side (to the right of a right-handed batsman).

Drive – A powerful shot hit back towards the end of the field from which the ball was bowled.

Duck – getting no runs.

Four – A shot that reaches the boundary after bouncing and scores four runs.

Leg before wicket – Dismissal of a ball that the umpire thinks will hit the wicket but is stopped by the batsman’s body.


Maiden over – An over in which no runs are scored.

No-ball – Illegal delivery bowled while overstepping the crease, giving an extra run to the batting side.

Over – Six consecutive balls by one bowler.

Common Ways a Batsman Can Be Dismissed

‘Being Caught’ – This happens when a fielder catches the ball before it hits the ground. It doesn't have to come directly off the bat however, it can deflect from the pad onto the bat or vice versa and still be caught. If the ball hits the batsman on the hand that is holding the bat, then they can still be caught out. If it is the wicketkeeper that catches the ball, the batter is out ‘caught behind’. 

‘Being Bowled’ – This happens is a bowler manages to get the ball through the batsman and knock off the bails (the two bits of wood that rest on top of the stumps). 

‘Leg Before Wicket’ – Similar to the offside rule in Football, this one isn't easy – sorry! Basically, the umpire will consider a leg before wicket (lbw) if he believes the ball would have hit the stumps, had it not been obstructed by the batsman’s pads. Despite having many things to consider in this instance, here is a clear outline of when the batsman WOULD be out due to a lbw: 

- If the batsman is hit on the pad in front of the stumps and the ball was pitched in line with the stumps, or outside the line of off stump. 
- If the batsman is struck on the pad outside the line of the off stump having not tried to hit the ball. 

‘Being Run Out’ – This is when the batsmen are going for runs, but fall short of the batting crease when the stumps are broken by the fielders. 


‘Being Stumped Out’ – This happens when the wicketkeeper collects the ball and knocks off the bails before the batsman gets their bat or themselves grounded behind the batting crease. 

Uncommon Ways a Batsman Can Be Dismissed 

‘Hit Wicket’ – When a batsman removes their own bails.

‘Handled the Ball’ – When he handles the ball without permission from the fielding side. 

‘Double Hit’ – Deliberately hitting the ball twice. 

‘Obstructing the Field’ – Preventing fielders from executing a run out or a catch.

‘Timed out’ – When a new batsman takes too long to appear on the field.

So those are the basics! If you need anything else… well now you can just shout a few terms and it’ll fool people! Enjoy!