Cricket Rules & How To Play Cricket

Cricket Rules & How To Play Cricket
Cricket Rules & How To Play Cricket. (Image credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images Sport)

The attention the game of cricket receives, especially at the apex level of play such as the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket world cup, has brought the spotlight on the rules of the sport. In this article, we consider in broad terms, the cricket rules. This can also serve as a guide on how to play cricket.

Since the 16th century, cricket has rapidly emerged to become one of the most engaging sports that have captured the minds and hearts of fans worldwide. From being a children’s sport to becoming a centre of media attention in the modern age, cricket has evolved into the nature of sports that puts the stakes incredibly high. Worldwide about 2.5 billion fans, passionately follow the game, that number has increasingly continued to be on the rise, making the sports one of the most significant sports in the modern age.

How to Play Cricket

The Objective of the Game

Both teams engaging in a cricket match aim to emerge the victor. With that being the ultimate objective of the game, each team tries to earn more runs than its opponent.


The game of cricket is played in an oval field. The shape of the field may be an oval, a circle or in an irregular circular pattern, but despite that, cricket fields are usually between the range of 400-500 feet in diameter. There are no rules as to the diameter of a cricket field, but the field falls between the range stated. In top cricket games, such as the ICC cricket world cup, there exists no official rule stating the diameter of the cricket field.  

To indicate the limits of the playing area, a boundary in the form of a rope is set. According to ICC standards, a boundary is between 65 yards to 90 yards. In the centre of the cricket field, there is a rectangle-shaped area referred to as the pitch, where most of the actions of a cricket game go down. Lines, known as creases are drawn on the pitch which is used to judge fair deliveries. At the two ends of the pitch are three woods known as stumps dug into the earth stand upright, while a small wood, called a bail connects the woods. The structure is referred to as a wicket which is a fundamental factor in deciding if the batsman hit the wicket, or is stumped. Cricket is one of the sports with the longest playing time, cricket matches last between three to five days, with about 6 hours of play each day.

The game begins when the umpire calls ‘play’ and ends either as a result of adverse weather conditions or if the minimum number of overs have been played at the end of the agreed period of the game or when a batting team has lost all wickets allowed to play.

As a result of the long hours of play, there is usually a period of rest known as intervals. There are intervals between innings in a cricket match which lasts 10 minutes and intervals for meals which last as long as 40 minutes depending on the nature of the competition. In countries where the climate is hot, drinks intervals are key and are often decided before the game commences. Drink intervals last for about 5 minutes.

Team Players & Player Positions

A cricket team consists of 11 players in various fielding positions. The bowler throws the ball towards the wickets, the wicket-keeper is stationed behind the ticket and catches the ball in case of a stump. The batter defends the ball from the bowler. There are other fielding positions which change as the play goes on, this position includes the sweepers, long stop and cow stoppers. The catching positions include the slips, which are in different orders, such as the first slip, second slips and third slips, arranged in the order from the wicket-keeper.


Cricket Equipment
Cricket Equipment. (Photo credit: SportyTell)

Equipment in cricket includes the clothing gears which consists of the helmet, collared shirt, trousers, cricket cap, abdominal pads, gloves, jockstrap and shoes. Other equipments are the rope which is used to indicate the boundary, the bat, the stumps, that bail and the ball which should have a circumference of 9.1 m and is either red, white or pink with a cork base.


In cricket, runs are used to decide the victor. Runs are earned when a batsman hits the ball, and the batsmen stationed at the wicket, successfully run to the other end. Four runs are awarded if the ball bounces one or more times before leaving the boundary. Six runs are awarded when the ball crosses the boundary without bouncing.  


The team with the most runs usually wins the game. The batting team tries to score as many runs as possible while the fielding team tries to prevent the team from earning runs. Teams change position after a given period and try to earn more runs than the opponent.

Cricket Rules

  1. A team should have 11 players on the field during play.
  2. A bowler must register 6 legal deliveries to get an over.
  3. Umpires stationed at both wickets are to count the balls in the over and make a decision on outs and legal deliveries by bowlers.
  4. Umpires can give batsmen an out if the ball hits the stump (bowled), the field catches the ball without the ball bouncing  (caught), the ball hits the batsman pads and prevents it from hitting the stump (Leg Before Wicket), when the wicket-keeper hits the stump with his glove when the batman is out of his crease with the ball in his hand (stumped), the batsman hits his own wicket (hit wicket), the batsman handles the ball intentionally (handled ball), the batsman hits the ball two times with his bat, when a player fails to get to the crease in 30 seconds after the other batsman has left (timed out) and when a batsman intentionally obstructs a fielder from catching the ball (obstruction).
  5. Test cricket matches should have two innings in each game played over a duration of 5 days.
  6. After the culmination of runs, the team with the highest runs in each inning emerges the winner.
  7. Cricket matches played in a one day should have 50 overs, where each team bat and bowl in 50 overs before swapping position.
  8. There shall be a third and fourth umpire in international games, they are to make decisions when the other two field umpires cannot decide.
  9. A fielding team should have one wicket-keeper equipped with gloves and pads and stationed behind the stump opposite the bowler. He shall be the only member of the fielding team equipped with gloves (wicket gloves) and pads.

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