All of the rules of cricket have been described above, as well as some
other information which is not ``rules'', such as names of fielding
positions. The rest of this file is concerned with other information
which is useful to know, but not actually ``rules''.
There are two basic approaches to bowling: fast and spin. A fast bowler
bowls the ball as fast as practicable, attempting to defeat the batsman
with its pace. If the ball also swings in the air, or seams (moves
sideways) off the pitch because of bouncing on the seam, it can be very
difficult to play. A spin bowler has a more ambling run-up and uses
wrist or finger motion to impart a spin to the ball. The ball then spins
to one side when it bounces on the pitch, thus also hopefully causing
it to be hard to hit. Fast bowlers are generally used with a new ball,
while spin bowlers get more spin with a worn ball. There is also medium
pace bowling, which concentrates more on swing and seam than pace.
A swing bowler will hold the seam of the ball at a certain angle and
attempt to release the ball so that it spins with the seam at a constant
angle. With one side of the ball polished and the other rough,
differential air pressure will cause it to swing in the air.
A seam bowler attempts to keep the seam vertical, so that the ball hits
the seam when it bounces on the pitch and deflects in its path either to
the right or left.
A fast bowler can also pull his fingers down one side of the ball as he
lets it go, imparting a small amount of sideways spin to the ball. This
can cause the ball to move sideways off the pitch. Such a delivery is
called a leg-cutter if the ball moves from the leg side to the off
side of a right-handed batsman, or an off-cutter if moves from the off
to the leg. A specialist spin bowler can get a lot more spin that a fast
bowler bowling cutters, however.
There are two types of spin bowling: off-spin, and leg-spin. Imagine
holding a ball in your right hand and, for simplicity's sake, throwing
it. If you twist your hand in a clockwise direction on release, then the
spin on the ball will be such that when it bounces it will spin to your
right. This is essentially off-spin bowling (so called because, to a
right-handed batsman, the ball spins from the off side to the leg
side). The off-spin delivery itself is called either an off-spinner
or an off-break. An off-spin bowler will sometimes not spin the
ball so much, putting
more pace on the delivery. Such a delivery is called an arm-ball.
Now imagine twisting the ball anticlockwise and releasing it from the palm
so that it `rolls' over the base of the little finger. This gives the ball
spin in the opposite direction, so it spins left when it bounces. This is
basic leg-spin (because to a right-handed batsman it spins from leg to
off). The basic leg-spin delivery is called a leg-spinner or
The interesting thing about leg-spin is that if you cock your wrist at
various angles you can in fact, with the same basic bowling action,
produce spin in different directions. With the wrist cocked a little
towards the inside of the arm, you can produce top-spinners. Go
further and you actually end up producing spin in the same direction as
an off-spinner. A ball bowled in this way by a leg-spin bowler is called
a wrong 'un, or sometimes a googly. Probably trickiest of all is a
ball bowled with the hand in the same position as a top-spinner, but
released from under the hand, thereby gaining back-spin. This ball is
called a flipper.
(Mike Whitaker tells me that a flipper is actually bowled from the back
of the hand like a normal leg-spinner, but with the forearm twisted outwards,
so the ball spins about a vertical axis. I'm not sure which of these is
correct, so I'm mentioning both here!)
Mike has also kindly supplied a graphic which attempts to show the arm and
wrist action of the different leg-spin deliveries. Sorry for those with
only ASCII browsers, but this is too difficult to show in ASCII! For those
of you with graphical browsers, the following diagram shows a view of a
(right-handed) leg-spinner's arm, from in front (i.e. batsman's point of
view). The rotation of the ball out of the hand is the same in each case,
with the ball spinning with the seam as an ``equator''.
So right handed spinners fall into two classes: off-spinners, with their
simple off-spin and arm-ball deliveries; and leg-spinners, with their
leg-spinners, top-spinners, wrong 'uns, and flippers. Leg-spinners are
naturally much more difficult to bat against, because of the great
variety of balls they can produce, but they are actually rarer than
off-spinners because it is so much more difficult to bowl reasonably
accurately with the leg-spin hand action.
For left-handed spin bowlers there is a whole different system of
A left-handed bowler who uses the same action as an off-spinner is
called an orthodox spinner. Such bowlers are not uncommon. A
left-hander who bowls with the same action as a leg-spinner is called an
unorthodox spinner - and these are the rarest bowlers in cricket. The
left-handed analogue of the leg-spin delivery (which spins the opposite
way, of course) is called an unorthodox spinner. The top-spinner and
flipper retain their names. And the left-handed analogue of the wrong
'un is called a Chinaman.
Typical bowling speeds are:
Bowlers also make use of the state of the pitch, which is quite crucial
to the game, and is one of the things the commentators look at in great
detail before the game begins. Because it's a natural surface, there are
usually small inconsistencies in its flatness, hardness and elasticity.
Over a multi-day game, or even over a single day, these become more
pronounced, so it often gets more difficult to bat as the game
progresses. Spin bowlers in particular often find that they get much
more spin from an old pitch than a freshly prepared one.
- Fast bowler:
- 130-140 km/h (80-90 mph)
- Medium pace bowler:
- 100-130 km/h (60-80 mph)
- Spin bowler:
- 70-90 km/h (45-55 mph)
Some of the different types of balls bowled have special names:
The different types of shots a batsman can play are described by names:
- A ball bounced short so that it bounces high, usually chest
height or higher as it passes the batsman.
- A ball bounced very close to the batsman's crease. This is
difficult to score from and often gets batsmen out, but is difficult
to bowl without accidentally bowling a full toss.
Most of these shots can also be lofted, in an attempt to hit the ball
over the close fielders (or the boundary). The batting strokes can be
divided into two categories: Straight bat and cross bat. The
straight bat shots are played with the bat held close to the vertical, and
are the blocks, drives and glances. Cross bat shots are played with the bat
held more horizontally, like a baseball bat. These include cuts, pulls,
sweeps and hooks.
- A defensive shot played with the bat vertical and angled down at
the front, intended to stop the ball and drop it down quickly on to
the pitch in front of the batsman.
- An offensive shot played with the bat sweeping down through the
vertical. The ball travels swiftly along the ground in front of the
striker. A drive can be an on drive, straight drive, off drive,
or cover drive, depending in which direction it goes.
- A shot played with the bat close to horizontal, which hits the ball
somewhere in the arc between cover and gully.
- Edge, or Glance:
- A shot played off the bat at a glancing angle, through
the slips area.
- Leg Glance:
- A shot played at a glancing angle behind the legs, so that
it goes in the direction of fine leg.
- A horizontal bat shot which pulls the ball around the batsman into
the square leg area.
- Like a pull shot, except played with the backmost knee on the
ground, so as to hit balls which bounce low.
- Like a pull shot, but played to a bouncer and intended to hit the
ball high in the air over square leg - hopefully for six runs.
- French Cut:
- An attempt at a cut shot which hits the bottom edge of the
bat and goes into the area behind square leg.
- Reverse Sweep:
- A sweep with the bat reversed, into the point area.
The following terms are used more informally and are not standard:
If a bowler completes an over without any runs being scored from it, it
is termed a maiden.
- A wild swing intended only to hit the ball as hard and as far as
possible, usually with little or no control.
- Agricultural Shot:
- Any shot played with very little skill.
If a batsman gets out without scoring any runs, he is said to be out for
a duck. The origin of this term is unclear, but commonly rumoured to
be because the '0' next to his name on the scorecard resembles a duck
egg. A batsman out for a duck while facing his first delivery of the
innings is out for a golden duck.
The runs scored while two batsmen bat together are called their
partnership. There are ten partnerships per completed innings,
labelled from first-wicket partnership to
tenth-wicket partnership, in order.
A nightwatchman is a batsman who comes in to bat out of order towards
the end of a day's play in a multi-day game, in order to 'protect'
better batsmen. To elucidate, the batting order in an innings is usually
arranged with two specialists openers who begin the innings, then the
rest of the batsmen in order of skill, best to worst. The job of the
openers is to bat for a while against the new ball. A brand new ball is
very hard and bouncy, and fast bowlers can use this to great advantage
and can often get batsmen out. So it is harder to bat against a new
ball. It is also somewhat difficult to begin batting. A new batsman is
more likely to get out than one who has been on the field and scoring
runs for a while.
Now, in a multi-day game, it sometimes happens that a team's innings
will have only a few men out towards the end of the day's play. If a
batsman gets out with about half an hour or less until stumps, the
batting captain will sometimes send in a poor batsman next instead of a
good one. The idea is that the poor batsman (the nightwatchman) will
last 20 minutes and so protect the good batsman from having to make a
fresh start that evening and again the next morning. It is essentially a
sacrifice ploy. Of course, it can backfire dangerously if the
nightwatchman does get out before stumps. The nightwatchman is a tactic
which is used about 50% of the time when the appropriate situation
arises (which itself occurs perhaps once every 4 or 5 games). It just
depends on how the captain feels at the time.
A sightscreen is a large screen positioned on the boundary so that it
forms a backdrop behind the bowler, so that the striker can see the ball
clearly. Sightscreens are white when a red ball is used, and black for a
A rabbit is a player (almost invariably a bowler, but sometimes
a wicket-keeper) who is a very poor batsman. A ferret is an
extremely poor batsman (so called because he ``goes in after the