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FAQ on Cricket

by Payal Dhar
Get your cricket fundas right. Here are some frequently-asked questions to provide you basic information on India's unofficial national game.
Read the complete FAQ on Cricket

FAQ on Tennis

by Nimish Dubey
Some frequently-asked questions to get you even with the basics of Tennis - one of the most glamourous sports in the world
Read the complete FAQ on Tennis

FAQ on Cricket

by Payal Dhar

1. What is a follow-on?

2. What are the fielding restrictions in one-day cricket?

3. What is the 30-yard circle and the 15-yard circle?

4. Are there any fielding restrictions in Test cricket?

5. What is the size of a cricket field?

6. What is the size of a cricket pitch?

7. What is a crease?

8. What is the height of the stumps?How far apart are they?

9. How many umpires and other officials for a game of cricket?

10. What is the difference between on-side, leg-side and off-side?

11. What is the difference between leg-spin and off-spin?

12. What is a googly?

13. What is the difference between seam and swing bowling?

14. What is chucking?Why is it illegal?

15. In how many ways can a batsman be out?

16. What is the 'danger area' of the pitch?

17. What are the Ashes?

18. What is Bodyline?

19. What is underarm bowling?Is it legal?

1. What is a follow-on?
    Go Top

If the side batting first in a two-innings match, whether a Test match or a first-class match, dismisses their opponents to retain a lead of 200 runs in a five-day match, 150 in a three- or four-day match, 100 in a two-day match and 75 in a one-day match, they have the option of enforcing a follow-on. This requires the second team to follow their second innings immediately as the first one is over. The rule can be best explained by an example. Imagine that in a five-day Test match, Team A batted first and got 450 runs in their first innings. When Team B bats in their first innings, their first target is to get within 200 runs of Team A's score, that is, 251. Otherwise, Team A will have the option of enforcing a follow-on. If Team B are all out for 250 or less (having a deficit of 200 or more), and are asked to follow on, they will have to bat again immediately. The idea is to give the side having the requisite lead the option of dismissing their opponents and finishing the game without themselves having to bat again. If they are successful, they are said to have won by an innings.

2. What are the fielding restrictions in one-day cricket?    Go Top

In one-day cricket, special fielding restrictions come into play in the first 15 overs of each innings. During this time, the fielding side must have at least two fielders in close-in catching positions, that is, within 15 yards of the stumps at the batting end. Also, a maximum of two players are allowed to field outside the 30-yard circle. From the 16th over these restrictions are lifted and the fielding side may take out the close-in fielders if they wish. However, at least four fielders must remain inside the 30-yard circle at all times. Another fielding restriction, of course, is that each bowler is allowed only a restricted number of overs. For example, in a 50-over one- day match a bowler can have a maximum of 10 overs.

3. What is the 30-yard circle and the 15-yard circle?    Go Top

In one-day cricket, to demarcate the fielding area for the fielding restrictions, the 30-yard circle and 15-yard circle are taken as markers. The 15-yard limit is marked at both ends of the pitch, having a radius of 15 yards from either set of wickets. It is not mandatory to mark this circle. Sometimes just guide marks are made on the field to indicate to fielders where the 15-yard limit is. If not, it remains to the discretion of the umpires and players. There is one 30-yard circle that encompasses the 15-yard circles/areas and the pitch. It is at a distance of 30-yards from the nearest wickets. All one-day games require this area to be demarcated.

4. Are there any fielding restrictions in Test cricket?    Go Top

Yes, there are, though there are no 15-yard or 30-yard demarcations in Test cricket. Only two fielders are allowed behind the batsmen on the leg-side. This rule is a legacy of the Bodyline series of 1932-33, when English fast bowlers under the captaincy of Douglas Jardine were directed to bowl short at the batsmen's body. The leg-side would then be packed with fielders, waiting for the catches that came from batsmen fending the ball away. (This rule is also applicable to one-day cricket.)

5. What is the size of a cricket field?    Go Top

This might sound strange, but there are no regulations for the size of a cricket field! The laws of cricket make no mention of the distance of the boundary from the centre apart from stating that both captains and umpires must agree on the boundary line before the toss. Also, it says, if possible, the boundary should be marked with a white line or a rope.

6. What is the size of a cricket pitch?    Go Top

The cricket pitch measures 22 yards or 20.12 metres in length and 5 feet or 1.52 metres in width. The length is measured between the middle stumps of each set of wickets at each end.

7. What is a crease?    Go Top

There is in fact the bowling crease, the popping crease and the return crease marked on a cricket pitch at both ends. The bowling crease is marked in line with the three stumps at both ends. It is 8 feet 8 inches in length (or 2.64m), and the stumps are in the centre. The popping crease is parallel to and in front of the bowling crease, at a distance of 4 feet from it. The marking of the popping crease has to be at least 6 feet (1.22m) in length on either side of the wicket. However, it is considered to be unlimited in length on either side of the wicket. This is the line on which the batsman takes guard. During run outs and stumpings this is the crease that comes into play, with the batsman said to have made his or her ground only if they are behind the line of the popping crease. Also, some part of the bowler's front foot must be behind the line of the popping crease during delivery, otherwise a no-ball is called. The return crease is marked at each edge of the bowling crease, perpendicular to it. It extends at least 4 feet (1.22m) behind the bowling crease, and a forward extension up to the popping crease is usually marked as well. The return crease is also considered unlimited in length. A bowler's back foot needs to be inside the return crease, not touching it, while delivering a ball. Otherwise, it is a no-ball.

8. What is the height of the stumps? How far apart are they?    Go Top

There are two sets of wickets on each end of the cricket pitch, exactly 22 yards apart, each made up three wooden stumps and two wooden bails. The stump that is towards the off side is the off stump, the one in the middle is the middle stump and the one towards the leg side the leg stump. All three stumps are of equal size and 28 inches (71.1cm) in height. The bails are 4 3/8 inches (11.1cm) in length and must not project from the top of the stumps by more than 1/2 inch (1.3cm). Each set of wickets is 9 inches (22.86cm) wide, while the stumps are of sufficient thickness not to allow the ball to pass between them.

9. How many umpires and other officials for a game of cricket?    Go Top

Cricket can basically be played with just two field umpires. However, these days in international games, both one-day and Tests, apart from the field umpires, a television umpire, a reserve fourth umpire and a match referee is also required. The field umpires are responsible for taking decisions on the field. If they want, they can refer to the TV umpire for help. The fourth umpire is, of course, on standby in case one of the others is indisposed. The match referee is responsible for keeping an eye on the play and seeing that the game is played in a fair manner.

10. What is the difference between on-side, leg-side and off-side?    Go Top

Consider the entire cricket field divided into two halves by an imaginary line drawn through both sets of stumps along the pitch. The side of the field that is behind the batsman when he or she is facing the bowler is the on-side or the leg-side. The side that is in front of the batsman when he or she takes guard is, therefore, the off-side. This also explains certain fielding positions, such as mid-on, mid- off, long-on and long-off. Obviously, this means that a right-handed batsman's on-side is a left-hander's leg-side. Another way of explaining this is that a right-hand batsman standing in front of his or her stumps facing the bowler's end will have the off-side on the right and the on-side on the left. For a left- hander it is the other way round.

11. What is the difference between leg-spin and off-spin?    Go Top

A right-hand batsman facing a right-arm leg-spin bowler will have the ball pitching and then spinning away from him. Such a delivery is called leg-spin as it spins from the leg-side to the off- side. Off-spin, on the other hand, spins from the off-side to the leg-side for a right-hand batsman.

12. What is a googly?    Go Top

The leg-spinner's 'wrong one' is called the googly. Instead of making the ball turn from the leg-side to the off-side, the bowler makes it go the other way, thus confusing the batsman.

13. What is the difference between seam and swing bowling?    Go Top

Seam bowling is when a bowler makes use of the seam of the cricket ball to get movement off the pitch. If the ball is delivered to hit the pitch at a certain angle, various deviations may be caused. Highly skilled seam bowlers can control these deviations. Swing bowling, on the other hand, is when a bowler is able to move the ball in the air. It is called in-swing if it swings inwards and out- swing if it goes the other way. Swing can be controlled by keeping one side of the ball well polished and shining and allowing the other side to scruff up naturally in the course of the game. This causes increased turbulence on the scruffed up side as compared to the smooth side, dragging the ball to one side while it is travelling. Again, controlled swing bowling requires a high level of skill.

14. What is chucking? Why is it illegal?    Go Top

Chucking or throwing is an illegal delivery in cricket. A bowler is said to be chucking if there is a full or partial straightening of the arm during the delivery of the ball just before the ball leaves the hand. It is illegal because it gives the bowler an unfair advantage in imparting extra speed or spin to the ball. One of the first victims of this law was Australian Ian Meckiff. He was called for throwing even though his arm was naturally bent, and ultimately gave up cricket. Of course, today throwing is a major simmering controversy in cricket. If the same parameters that applied to Meckiff were taken into consideration, bowlers like Sri Lankan Muralitharan or Pakistani Shoaib Akhtar would not be allowed to bowl.

15. In how many ways can a batsman be out?    Go Top

A batsman can be out in 10 different ways. These are: bowled, caught, stumped, run out, leg before wicket, hit wicket, hit the ball twice, obstructing the field, handled the ball and timed out.

16. What is the 'danger area' of the pitch?    Go Top

The 'danger area' is an imaginary 4 feet by 2 feet area on both sides of the pitch just in front of the stumps that must be protected from damage by the bowlers and fielders. This is 4 feet (1.22m) from the popping crease, and within 1 foot (30.48m) from either side of the middle stump.

17. What are the Ashes?    Go Top

The Ashes are the oldest cricketing competition in the world, played annually between traditional rivals Australia and England. Tired of getting beaten by Australia, an English newspaper, The Sporting Times, in 1882 published an 'obituary' of English cricket, saying that it 'died at the Oval on 29 August 1882' and was 'deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances'. It ended by saying that the body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. Thus, the Ashes were born. The trophy is a small urn containing the 'ashes' of English cricket. There is a little controversy as to its contents though. Some people say that it contains the ashes of a burnt bail, while some say that is was a burnt veil. However, much to the displeasure of many Australians, the Ashes urn is not allowed to be moved out of Lords!

18. What is Bodyline?    Go Top

The Ashes series of 1932-33 is referred to as the Bodyline series. This is so because the English side touring Australia under Douglas Jardine used what they called the 'leg theory' to keep Australian batsmen, mainly one Donald Bradman, under wraps. It involved their fast bowlers sending down fast, short-pitched deliveries aimed at the batsman's body, with the leg side packed with fielders. The batsman had little choice but to fend off the ball straight to the waiting fielders behind him, or to get hit very painfully. This was probably cricket's first scandal. It very nearly broke cricketing relations between Australia and England. England were successful in winning back the Ashes and Don Bradman 'failed', scoring at a measly rate of 56.67.

19. What is underarm bowling? Is it legal?    Go Top

Underarm bowling means that a ball must be delivered with the hand below the level of the elbow. Believe it or not, this was originally how cricket was played. It was only in the early 1800s that a man called John Willes tried out an over-arm or round-arm action that shocked everyone. His inspiration was his sister who used to bowl to him, but because of her skirt she found it hard to underarm. However, this new method was declared 'dangerous' and 'unfair'! In 1835 the rule was finally changed, with bowlers now allowed to raise their arms, but only to shoulder level. It was only in 1864 that MCC allowed the bowlers' arms to be raised to any level. Today underarm bowling is allowed only in blind cricket. A bowler bowling underarm in any other competition is no-balled. This was a result of an unsavoury incident involving Australian Trevor Chappell, who was instructed to bowl underarm by his skipper and brother Ian in a one-day match against New Zealand in 1980-81. The Kiwis needed six runs to tie, but the underarm delivery meant that it was impossible for the batsman to hit it for a six.

This is not an exhaustive FAQ on cricket. If you have any questions you would like to have answered, please write to us. Of course, if you spot an error or feel you can answer some of the questions better, do not hesitate to contact us.
All contributions – questions, answers and errata – will be credited to the contributor.

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