Your A-Z Handy Guide of all things Crickety




Introductory Video Clips and Graphics - The Basics

Cricketing Terms


When the fielding team asks the umpire to decide if a batsman is out. This is used mainly in cases of LBW, Caught, Stumped, and Run Out. The "appeal" is more often than not a raucous shout of "'OWZAT?!", or "HOW WOZEE?!" with arms raised and all attention focussed on the poor umpire - not in any way to influence his decision you understand, simply because he is the one who has to make the decision. In Test cricket, the umpire can make a signal with his hands, of a tv screen shape, to pass the buck to someone else. At our level, the buck stops in the middle!

The Ashes
England and Australia played each other in international cricket from as early as 1861, and the first Test was played in 1877, but the two words that conjure up more jingoism and fervour than any other between these two nations were coined by The Sporting Times in 1882 after a stunning, and not uncommon, batting collapse by the English which led to their defeat at the hands of the enemy. The newspaper ran a spoof obituary of English cricket, which read as follows:

In Affectionate Rememberance of English Cricket Which Died At The Oval
29th August 1882
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances
R.I.P -
NB: The body will be cremated, and the ashes taken to Australia. 
The story of this 124-year sporting classic is probably best told here.

Backing Up

The non striking batsman should begin to move toward the striker's end as the bowler delivers (bowls) the ball (it's a bit like stealing a base in that American game). This makes scoring singles and twos easier. Good communication and calling between the stumps is required in order that silly run outs do not occur. (Note to self - READ THIS!)


Two small cylinders of wood that sit on top of the stumps. In normal play the bails must be knocked off for a batsman to be Bowled, Stumped, or Run Out.




A cricket ball weighs about 5 1/2 ounces (155 grams), is about 9" (23cms) in circumference, and is usually made of a cork centre, bound with string, having a leather covering stitched around the centre. It's bloody hard, too!

The bat must not be longer than 38" (96.5cm) nor wider than 4 1/4" (10.8cm). The bit you hit the ball with must be made ONLY of wood. If the ball strikes the batsman's hand (or glove) HOLDING the bat, it is the same as striking the bat.



The area, marked by a rope or white line, which defines the limits of the playing area. Also used as a term to describe a 'four' or 'six' ie: "The batsman hit four boundaries in his innings".


The bowler bowls. The ball hits the wicket. "Bowled". And it doesn't matter if the ball hits the bat or the batsman first. It's still bowled. End of story. The wicket is credited to the bowler.


This can be anything from one to (ridiculously rare) six runs added to the batting team's score. It comes about when the wicket keeper can't stop the ball from the bowler when it hasn't hit either the batsman or his bat, and the batsmen run. The runs added to the score depend on 3 things: how many runs the batsmen run, whether the ball goes over the boundary, or if it hits a piece of equipment (see penalty runs).



If the batsman hits the ball - which is NOT a no-ball - with his bat, and the ball is caught by a fielder before it hits the ground, the batsman is out "caught". This includes cases where the ball strikes one fielder, say, on the boot, and rebounds to be caught by that or any other fielder. The ball has to be "under the control" of the catcher, and the catcher must be within the area of play at all times he has the ball. The wicket is credited to the bowler.


An attacking stroke played by the batsman, off the front or back foot, usually along the ground but sometimes in the air - known as a lofted drive - and depending on the direction the ball is hit, called a cover drive, on drive, off drive or straight drive.





Rather quaint term to indicate that a batsman scored exactly NOUGHT. Should this unfortunate event occur on the first ball of the batsman's innings, he is said to have got a GOLDEN DUCK. A second ball dismissal with no score equals a SILVER. In a two innings match, two scores of NOUGHT equals a PAIR - and the one cricket award no player has ever wished to receive is the GOLDEN PAIR - two first-ball dismissals. And believe me, it's a longer way back to the dressing room than it is from it!


Diagram showing some of the common fielding positions used in cricket without making it look like Picadilly Circus/Time Square. There are many additions to these positions, using "deep" and "short" to describe placings nearer to or further from the wicket, or "wide" and "fine"  to describe , well - wide or fine positions. If you want to get technical, you can tag "extra" to deep or short, just to add a few more!

As you look at the picture, the bowler is bowling to a right handed batsman. Looking straight on, anything to the right of an imaginary vertical line down the centre of the pitch (the green bit) is called the "ON" or "LEG" side, and anything to the left is called the "OFF" side. For total novices (my dear American friends) it should be pointed out that there can be no more than 11 fielders (the black dots) on the playing area at the same time - including the bowler and wicketkeeper. Figures

A bowler's "figures", are his stats for a game (or season, or career). Written like this 8 - 3 - 20 - 4, these numbers refer to (8) the number of overs bowled, (3) naiden overs bowled (20) runs conceded by the bowler (including no balls and wides) and (4) wickets taken.


Not 'fore' as in golf, but the number of runs scored if the ball goes over the boundary bouncing at least once. The batsmen do not have to run. If the ball goes over the boundary without bouncing, see six.

Hit Wicket

The bowler bowls. The batsman, his bat, or his pads/gloves, hit the stumps in trying to hit the ball (or get out of the way of it) and the bails fall off. Out, 'Hit Wicket'.



Innings - Just to be difficult, there are a couple of meanings for this word:

a) The time a batsman spends batting is called his innings. So scoring 90 would be good 'innings'. Hell, 90 would be a bloody miracle in our team!

b) Depending on the type of cricket, a game may be one 'innings' or two. If it's one, Team A bats first until they run out of overs, or wickets. Everyone then has lunch or tea. Then Team B then bat until they 1) run out of overs without scoring more runs than Team A. 2) run out of wickets without scoring more... or 3) score more runs than Team A. In 1) & 2), Team A wins. In 3, Team B prevails. Got that? Simple enough.

Where it gets complicated is with two innings' matches. And that will need a whole page devoted to it, so come back again when I've worked out how to explain it!

Laws of Cricket

The game of Cricket has been governed by a series of Codes of Law for over 250 years. These Codes have been subject to additions and alterations recommended by the governing authorities of the time. Since its formation in 1787, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has been recognised as the sole authority for drawing up the Code and for all subsequent amendments.


In the late 1990s, two distinguished MCC members and ex-England captains, Ted Dexter and Lord Cowdrey, sought to enshrine the 'Spirit of Cricket' in the game's Laws - thereby reminding players of their responsibility for ensuring that cricket is always played in a truly sportsmanlike manner. The Dexter/Cowdrey initiative proved successful, and when the current Code of Laws was introduced, in 2000, it included, for the first time, a Preamble on the Spirit of Cricket.


"Leg Before Wicket" or LBW is the most argued about way of getting out in cricket because of all the ifs and buts involved, but very basically it means if the ball hits the batsman - NOT his bat, usually his leg - and would otherwise have hit the wicket, the batsman is out "Leg Before". Easy eh? The wicket is credited to the bowler.

Exceptions to this rule: 1) The ball "pitches" (bounces) outside leg stump - batsman cannot be out LBW, regardless of whether he tries to hit it or not. 2) The ball pitches outside OFF stump, and the batsman attempts to hit the ball - batsman is not out.

Leg side and Off-side 

The leg stump is on the leg side funnily enough. The leg side is the opposite side for a batsman who bats left handed (and the names of all the fielding positions are determined by the stance of the batsman facing the ball). The off side is the opposite to the leg side (which ever that may be).



An over in which no runs (excluding byes) are scored. Part of the bowler's figures. Considered a big deal (if you are the bowler and not the batsman that is).



There are umpteen ways for a ball to be a 'No-Ball', but I'm only going to deal with the most common occurrence. When the bowler bowls the ball, but one or both of his feet are in the wrong place according to the rules - his back foot is behind the back line of the crease, or his front foot is past the front line of the crease - the umpire  shall call out "No-Ball!" and make the relevant signal. One 'penalty' run will be added to any other runs scored off of this ball, and added to the batting team's score. A batsman may only be 'Out' from a 'No-Ball' in one of the following ways - Handling The Ball, Obstructing The Field, Hit The Ball Twice, or Run Out.


There are ten ways for a batsman to be "Out". 1) Bowled. 2) Caught. 3) LBW. 4) Run Out. 5) Stumped and 6 ) Hit Wicket.

These last four I won't bother explaining because they are quite rare. If you really care that much, mail me! 7) Handled the Ball. 8) Hit the Ball Twice. 9) Interfering with the Field. 10) "Timed" Out. "Out" is also referred to as being "dismissed".


There are six 'balls' in an over. The bowler bowls the ball toward the striking batsman. If it is not a No-Ball, or Wide Ball, or in certain cases, a Dead Ball, it counts as one 'ball'. When six 'balls' have been bowled, the umpire calls out "Over!". The next over is bowled from the other end of the wicket, and so it goes. One innings matches have a pre-set, limited number of overs. Two innings matches don't.

Penalty Runs

There are many occasions when penalty runs are incurred, but I'm only going to deal with the most common. No Balls and Wides are the two most common, but there is one more to talk about briefly. This is when the ball hits a piece of equipment. If the equipment in question belongs to the fielding side (a discarded helmet or a hat for example) then FIVE runs are added to the batting team's score. The penalty also applies if a fielder deliberately uses his cap etc to stop the ball.

Run Out

Batsmen who have left their crease in order to attempt a run, or in “Backing up”, will be given out "Run Out" if a fielder throws the ball at the wicket, hits it and the bails are dislodged, as long as the batsman has not regained his ground. If the ball is hit by the batsman and it "breaks" the wicket at the non-striker's end the non-striker shall not be given out unless it has first been touched by a fielder (whether intentionally or otherwise). Also applies when a fielder with ball in hand "breaks" the wicket. The wicket is NOT credited to the bowler.


One run. If the ball hits the bat, the batsman gets the run added to his total, and if not e.g. the ball goes past the batsman and wicket keeper, then it is one bye added to the total.


A bit like a home run, this is when the ball is hit over the boundary without bouncing. Six runs to the batsman who hit the ball.


If the batsman moves out of his crease when the ball is bowled, other than attempting a run, and does not regain  his ground, the wicketkeeper can "stump" the batsman by striking the wicket with the ball in his hand (the ball does not have to make contact with the stumps) and the batsman is out "Stumped". The wicket is credited to the bowler.


The stumps are the three bits of upright wood, topped off by the bails, that make up the wicket - the thing what the bowler is trying to hit.




This is a break taken about 4 o'clock in the afternoon of any day of a two innings match, or between innings of a one innings match which begins after 1 p.m. Cucumber sandwiches & hot strong tea all round. Love it.


There are two umpires involved at this level of cricket; they are the poor souls whose job it is to keep count of the balls and overs bowled, turn a deaf ear to the appeals make terrible decisions about who is and isn't out, and basically keep all the hotheads on the pitch under control. No easy task, trust me.

The 'main' umpire stands directly behind the wicket at the end from which the bowler is bowling, and the second umpire stands at “Square Leg” - hence the title "Square Leg Umpire".


Greg Chappell instigated the underarm bowling incident in the New ZealandAustralia One Day International on Feb 1st 1981. Chappell, the captain, ordered his brother Trevor Chappell, to bowl underarm along the ground to the New Zealander Brian McKechnie, thus ensuring the Australian team would win the match and avoid a tie. The New Zealand Prime Minister said it was "the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket", the Australian Prime Minister said it was "contrary to the traditions of the game", and the Chappells' decision was universally condemned. Both brothers have expressed regret and embarrassment over the incident. 


This actually has three meanings.

1. Three wooden stumps, 9" (23cm) in total width, 28" (71cm) long (above ground) and with two bails atop. This is a 'wicket'. There are two wickets, placed 22 yards (20.12m) apart.

2. The area of the pitch between the wickets, 22yds long, 10' (3m) wide, is also called the 'wicket'. It is against the rules for bowler or batsman to run "ON" the wicket (it makes a mess if you are playing on grass).

3. If a batsman is "out" he is said to have "lost" his "wicket". When ten "wickets" have been lost, the innings is over. Also refers to how many dismissals a bowler has claimed.


If the bowler delivers the bowl so wide of the wicket, on the on or off side, that the batsman cannot reasonably be expected to hit it, the umpire shall call "Wide Ball", and signal appropriately. One penalty run is added to the batting team's score. Should the ball go to the boundary, four runs will be added. Similarly, if the batsmen run two or three runs, these shall also be added.


Z is for Gad Zooks!

If none of the above meant anything to you then try this guide out! NOT EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT CRICKET!!!! Whether you're a budding player or aspiring armchair expert, Cricket for Dummies will help you get to grips with this fascinating sport.

Even more terminology HERE