Rules of Cricket

Originating in Britain, cricket is a game that has been played for centuries. After being exported from Britain during the colonial period, it has become an extremely popular sport worldwide. Cricket has been credited with being the inspiration for other games we know and love today, like baseball. As with most sports, the rules of cricket have evolved. This post explains everything you need to know about modern cricket rules to help you better understand the game.  

The Objective of the game

The objective of cricket is for a team to score more runs than their opponent. One team bowls while the other bats. When the ball is bowled to a batsman, he/she must hit it with the bat and cross and reach the stumps at the other end of the pitch to score a run.  If the ball reaches the field’s perimeter when batted, four runs can be scored. If it crosses the perimeter boundary without bouncing, six runs are scored. 

Different variations of cricket have different timescales for the game to be completed within. The aim of cricket is to restrict the opposing team to as few runs as possible in the given time or to bowl them out for as few runs as possible. The teams switch roles once their allotted time has expired or when they have lost all their wickets. 

Variations of cricket

There are three variations of cricket: Twenty 20, One Day, and Test cricket. 

The traditional form of cricket is Test cricket, which has been played professionally since the 19th century. This variation has a longer format, played over five days, with each team having two innings. To succeed in this type of cricket, teams require technique, temperament, and endurance. It is considered the game’s pinnacle format because teams are tested for a longer duration than in other game variations. 

One Day cricket is a limited-overs version of the game that started as recently as 1971. It is often seen in the One Day Internationals (ODI’s). In One Day cricket, teams have one inning each, and overs are limited to fifty. Speed, skill, and technique are required to succeed in this format. 

Twenty 20 is another limited-overs version of cricket and is the fastest and shortest format. As the name suggests, teams are limited to twenty overs each. This is the most modern version of cricket, which began in 2005. Twenty 20 International matches are typically finished within three hours. Teams must be incredibly skilled to succeed in this format. 

How to score and win at cricket

Teams must score more runs than their opponent within the given time frame to win at cricket. Scoring is called a run; runs occur when a batsman hits the ball, and he/she and the other batsman, who is at the opposite wicket, both run to the other end. The batsman can attempt as many runs as they want until they are given out. 

There are also other ways to score a run. Four runs are awarded to the batting team when the ball hits the field’s perimeter and six when it crosses it without bouncing first. A run is awarded to the batting team when the bowler bowls the ball too far away from the stumps. This is known as a wide delivery. 

Additionally, a run is awarded when the bowler oversteps the front line on the wicket, which is known as a no-ball. Runs can also be scored when a bye occurs, which is when the batsmen run even though no one has touched the ball, and when a leg bye occurs, which is when the batsmen run when the ball has hit the body or leg.

The bowling team will try to limit the runs of the batting team by fielding the ball. Once the teams swap, the second batting team will try to score more runs than their opponents. Whichever team has the most runs at the end of the game is declared the winner. 

Players, positions & Equipment 

Cricket matches are played on large oval or circular-shaped, grassy fields. Unlike most other sports, there is no fixed size or shape for a cricket ground. However, they are typically between 137 meters and 150 meters in diameter. Some are elongated ovals, while others are a perfect circle. 

Despite there being no defined size for a cricket ground, the pitch – which is located in the middle of the playing field – must be precise in measurement. The pitch is the focal point for cricket matches and, as such, is a well-prepared and closely mown surface. It is 22.12 meters long and 3.05 meters wide and is known as the bowling crease. 

There is a line on the pitch known as the popping crease. Bowlers must keep part of their foot behind this line when delivering the ball to avoid a no-ball being declared by the umpire. On either side of the bowling creases, there is a wicket which consists of two wooden bails and three wooden stumps. The bowler must knock the bails off the stumps to bowl a batter out. 

The three stumps each have different names: the middle stump, the leg stump (this is the right stump), and the off stump (this is the left stump). 

Each cricket team has eleven players. Teams take it in turns to bat and field. In cricket, full control of the fielding team’s positions lies with the captain. Thirty-five different fielding positions can all be utilized by the captain to get the batter out or attempt to prevent them from scoring runs. However, only nine of these positions can be used at any time. That is because two members of the fielding team are the bowler and wicket-keeper, which are fixed positions. 

The complete list of fielding positions are: 

  • Wicket-keeper, 
  • first slip, second slip, third slip, fly slip 
  • long stop, third man, gully, deep gully, 
  • Silly point, point, deep point, 
  • cover sweeper, cover point, extra cover, deep extra cover
  • silly mid-off, mid-off, long-off, straight hit
  • silly mid-on, mid-on, long-on
  • forwards short leg, short, mid-wicket, midwicket, deep mid-wicket
  • sweeper, short square leg, square leg, deep square leg, leg gully
  • long leg, leg slip, short fine leg, deep fine leg. 

Skills required to be good at cricket

Anyone can play cricket for fun, and regular practice can help people improve. However, specific skills are required to excel at the sport. Cricket players require the ability to throw and catch a ball. They benefit from having the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. Good hand-eye coordination is a must alongside good bowling and batting technique. 

Regularly playing cricket and training for these particular skills can help aspiring cricketers to develop their play. 

The rules of cricket

Depending on the variation of the game played, games comprise at least one innings. In each innings, the two teams will have a turn to bat and a turn to field. The fielding team aims to get the batsman out. The batsman is out when:

  • The bowler hits the wickets with the ball being bowled
  • The batsman’s ball gets caught
  • The bowler hits the batsman’s leg in front of the wicket
  • The wickets are hit before the batsmen run to the other end of the pitch

The batsmen aim to score as many runs as possible before getting out. They do this by:

  • Hitting the ball then running between the wickets, making it to the other side before the wickets are hit with the ball by the fielders (1 full length = 1 run)
  • Hitting the ball over the boundary
  • Hitting the ball to the boundary

The Twelfth Man

Although each team is made up of eleven players, there is also a reserve player. The reserve player is called the ‘twelfth man,’ and they are used to replace a player injured during play. The reserve player is not allowed to captain the team, wicket keep, bat or bowl. They are used solely as a fielder. As soon as the original player recovers from their injury, they can return to the game. 


Two umpires in a game ensure that the rules of Cricket are upheld. Umpires make decisions and notify the scorers. These two umpires are located on the playing field, while a third is in charge of video decisions where this applies, such as in professional matches. The third umpire is utilized when decisions are too close to call by the umpires on the field. 

Before a cricket game begins, a coin will be tossed by an official between the two captains. The team which guesses correctly gets to chose whether they will field or bat first. 

Batting is done in pairs, so the fielding team must bowl out ten members of the batting team before it is their turn to bat. In test cricket, the first team will bat again once the second batting team is out. However, the cricket rules allow for an exception to this, which is called the follow-on. 

Follow on and Declaration’s

The follow-on occurs when the first batting team makes at least 200 runs more than the other team. When this happens, the first team is allowed to elect for the second team to bat again. This rule can be useful in games that are affected by bad weather or progressing particularly slowly, either or which could mean there may not be sufficient time for both teams to complete a full innings. 

If that is the case, the captain of the batting team can decide to forfeit their innings, which is known as a declaration. A captain might choose to take this option in circumstances where the game is nearing a close, and it looks unlikely they will be able to bowl the opposing team out again. In test cricket, the game is declared a draw if one team is not bowled out twice over the five days of play. In such circumstances, a declaration creates the possibility of a win. 

There are several ways a batsman can be given out

These are: 

  • When the bowled ball hits the batsman’s wickets without first touching another player or umpire (bowled)
  • When the fielder, wicket-keeper, or bowler catch the batted ball before it bounces (caught)
  • In certain circumstances, if the bowled ball hits the batsman without the bat hitting it first (LBW – leg before wicket)
  • When the wicket-keeper is out of his crease and not attempting to run and puts down his wicket (stumped)
  • If no part of the batsman’s bat or body is behind the popping crease when the ball’s in play and the wicket is fairly put down (run out)
  • If the batsman hits the wicket – either with his/her body or bat – once the ball is in play and the bowler has entered his stride or while setting off for his first run (hit wicket)
  • If the batsman is judged to have willingly handled the ball with the hand not touching his bat unless consented by the opposing team (handled the ball)
  • If the incoming batsman is not at the non-strikers end with his partner or ready to face a ball within three minutes of the outgoing batsman’s dismissal (timed out)
  • If the batsman hits the ball twice, except if he is protecting his wicket or it has been agreed by the opposing team (hit the ball twice)
  • If the batsman is judged to have willingly obstructed the opposition, either by action or words. 

In cricket rules, the bowler is not allowed to throw the ball. It must be bowled overarm at the stumps. Bowlers are allowed six deliveries per over but can be awarded another if the umpire calls a no-ball or wide. 

While there are some more technical, or rarely applied, rules, these are the basics that cover everything you need to know to understand cricket, whether you are watching or playing the sport. Being aware of the rules is essential for aspiring players to ensure they are upheld during matches. By breaking the rules, a player can cause adverse outcomes for their team.