cricket match is played between two teams (or sides) of eleven players each on a field of variable size and shape. The ground is grassy and is prepared by groundsmen whose jobs include fertilising, mowing, rolling and levelling the surface. Field diameters of 137–150 metres (150–160 yd) are usual. The perimeter of the field is known as the boundary and this is sometimes painted and sometimes marked by a rope that encircles the outer edge of the field. The Laws of Cricket do not specify the size or shape of the field but it is often oval – one of cricket’s famous venues is called The Oval.
The key action takes place in a specially prepared area of the field (generally in the centre) that is called the pitch. A run is scored when the batsman has run the length of the pitch after hitting the ball with his bat, although as explained below there are many ways of scoring runs. If the batsmen are not attempting to score any more runs, the ball is dead and is returned to the bowler to be bowled again.
Before play commences, the two team captains toss a coin to decide which team shall bat or bowl first. The captain who wins the toss makes his decision on the basis of tactical considerations which may include the current and expected field and weather conditions.
The bowling side seeks to dismiss the batsmen by various means until the batting side is all out, whereupon the side that was bowling takes its turn to bat and the side that was batting must take the field.
People on the Field
In professional matches, there are 15 people on the field while a match is in play. Two of these are the umpires who regulate all on-field activity. Two are the batsmen, one of whom is the striker as he is facing the bowling; the other is called the non-striker. The roles of the batsmen are interchangeable as runs are scored and overs are completed. The fielding side has all 11 players on the field together. One of them is the bowler, another is the wicketkeeper and the other nine are called fielders. The wicketkeeper (or keeper) is nearly always a specialist but any of the fielders can be called upon to bowl.
The objective of each team is to score more runs than the other team and to completely dismiss the other team. In limited overs cricket, winning the game is achieved by scoring the most runs, even if the opposition has not been completely dismissed. In Test cricket, it is necessary to score the most runs and dismiss the opposition twice in order to win the match, which would otherwise be drawn.