Rules of Cricket | How it is Played?

If there is any sport in the world that can compete with football in terms of popularity, it is cricket. Cricket has been played for hundreds of years, it was initiated and played by English in the 1500s. Since the game is popular in different continents and gradually spreading to such areas where cricket wasn’t known much previously, its rules keep changing.

Playing Cricket

Cricket can be a long game, as one of its formats – known as Test match – can last for 5 days. But that’s not all, it can also be finished in less than 4 hours – talking about T20 cricket, that’s one of the reasons why cricket has been spreading at a swift pace all around the world.

Objective of the Game

The objective of the game is to score as many runs as possible if you are batting first, and if you are chasing, then you are supposed to score more runs than your opponent team to win. If you are bowling second, then you have to restrict the opposition on less than your score.

How to Play?

Cricket is a team sport in which two teams compete against each other. It is played in various forms but every cricket game involves Batting and Bowling. During the batting phase the batting side scores runs while the bowling side tries to restrict them to minimum score. In general, the team that scores more during any format of cricket wins the game.

There are various ways in which you can score a shot or get the batsman out, moreover there are rules which dictate fielding ethics and what kinds of catches and saves are legal. A detail guide regarding the rules awaits you below which will give you a complete overview of the game.

Some Basic Rules of Cricket

There are some basic rules of the game that need to be understood before we move towards the different formats.

  • Which team will bat or bowl first is decided through the toss. This toss is a simple tossing of a coin, nothing special.
  • Regardless of the format, only 11 players can feature in a side.
  • A batsman can get out in some of these common ways: Caught, Runout, LBW, Bold, Stump and Hitwicket.
  • To bowl a legal delivery, a bowler’s front leg must remain behind the white line drawn ahead of the wicket at the bowling end.
  • To get a batsman out, a bowler must bowl a legal delivery – unless, it’s a runout.
  • There are two different lines drawn at either side of the batting end, if the bowler bowls a delivery outside those lines and the batsman fails to connect with the ball, it’ll be declared wide – as a result, one extra run will be given to the batting side.
  • No bowler can exceed his quota limit which differs according to format.
  • The pitch must be 22 yards long.
  • Every over consists of 6 legal deliveries.

How Many Players can Participate from Each Side?

Despite small and big changes in the laws of the games, the number of players that feature in each side have remained the same i.e. 11 players per team. These players get the equal opportunity to bat and bowl, or whatever their role is in the side. But usually these roles are fulfilled by professionals trained to fulfill that spot.

Both teams are allowed to play a 12th man in their team, who doesn’t bat and bowl but can field for any of the 11 players featuring in a particular match. As per the laws, teams have to name this 12th man in the same sheet where they name the 11 main players before the start of the game.

Rules Regarding the Playing Area

Cricket is such an open game that you can play it anywhere, from your garage to outside your home even in the narrowest of streets. But when it comes to professional cricket matches, they played in a dedicated area called “Cricket Stadium”.

The cricket stadium is always covered with grass except the pitch on which the bowler bowls to a batsman. it is played with a circumference of around 200m. Around the edge of the field is boundary ropes and these ropes serve as the line between being in play and out of play.

In the centre of the pitch, stands wicket with two sets of three stumps at either end of the pitch. One end is known as bowling end while the other is known as batting end. Both ends must be 22 yards apart from stump to stump – as per International Cricket Council rules.

30-yard or inner circle: A 30-yard circle or inner circle is drawn around the pitch, based on which players are restricted from going out during the powerplay overs.

Equipments Required in Cricket & Their Dimensions

In the early days, cricket was played without helmets and other safety equipment, later the companies introduced helmet, arm, guard, inner and chest guard as the game gained popularity.

Some of the basic equipments required for a professional cricket game are:

  • Bat (The length of the bat shouldn’t be more than 38 inches (965 mm) and the width no more than 4.25 inches, while thickness of the edge should not exceed 40mm and thickness of the bat should not cross 67mm).
  • Ball (weighs between 155.9g and 163g with a circumference of around 22.4 cm and 22.9 cm)
  • Stumps (stumps and bails are made from wood and ash) – the overall width of three stumps is 22.9 cm and the height of each stump is 71.1 cm.
  • Gloves (For batsman and Wicket Keeper)
  • Pads (for Batsman and Wicket keeper)
  • Guards (for different parts of the body)
  • Helmet (for head protection)

All the players are required to wear spiked shoes in modern day cricket and their team kits vary from format to format. In Red ball cricket (known as Test Cricket), players wear white kits regardless of the colour of their country’s flag.

What are the Scoring Options in Cricket?

There’s no rocket science, all you have to do is to play a shot in the gap or anywhere, and if there’s an opportunity, you can run. You can run up to 4 runs per shot. Here are some of the basic scoring ways in cricket:

  • Every wide and no ball brings an extra run to your score.
  • Batsman can run 1-4 runs off every shot.
  • If the ball hits or goes past the boundary ropes traveling on the ground, it is considered 4.
  • If the ball hits the ropes on full or lands on the other side of the ropes after being hit in the air, it is considered a six.
  • Batsman can also run off the byes – if a Wicket Keeper – fails to collect an untouched ball by a batsman.
  • If the fielder throws in the wrong direction while fielding or the wicket keeper fails to gather the ball, the batsman can run off it as well. If the ball goes to the boundary in such cases, then 4 runs are added along with the runs the batsman ran for before the overthrow.

Types of Dismissals in Cricket

There are a different ways a batsman can get out in cricket:

LBW: LBW stands for leg before wicket. In general terms, if the bowler hits your pads while you are in front of the stumps, and the umpire can see the ball hitting your stumps if your legs weren’t present there, you are given out Leg before wicket.

Bowled: Bowled is an embarrassing dismissal in cricket as that occurs when the bowler hits the stumps covered by you.

Catch: When the batsman hits the ball in the air and it lands straight into the hands of the opposition’s fielder/keeper/bowler, it is considered out.

Run out: This happens when a batsman attempts to take run and fails to reach the crease on time before the opposition fielder has hit the stumps with the ball. If the bails were already down before the run out attempt, then it is necessary to take out the stumps to run out a batsman.

Stump: Certain times batsmen attempt to get out of the crease in order to hit the ball. If he misses the ball and is out of the crease, the keeper can hit the stumps, with the ball in his gloves, and the batsman will be considered out.

Hit Wicket: This is very rare as it occurs when a batsman himself falls over the stumps or unconsciously hits the stumps with his own bat or any part of the body.

Mankad: This is a controversial mode of dismissal and considered against the spirit of the cricket. It happens when the non-striker gets out of the crease before the ball has been delivered and the bowler takes off the bails at non-striker’s end.

Obstructing the field: When the batsman intentionally diverts the bowling side by his word or actions or attempts to prevent any dismissal being made like a catch or a run out, then he is adjudged obstructing the field. The decision is made by the two on-field umpires. However, if the batsman is declared out, the bowler does not get the credit for this wicket.

What are the Roles of Players in Cricket?

Here’s how players play different roles to contribute for their teams in a game of cricket.


As the name suggests, a batsman plays with a bat and his job is to score runs. But at the same time he has to make sure that he doesn’t get out while scoring runs, every batsman gets one try in cricket. If he gets out once in an inning, he can’t bat again in the same innings. In Test cricket each team gets to bat twice in a match.

But in White ball cricket, once you have got out, you can’t bat again.

Batting Rules in Cricket:

Some of the basic rules for batting are:

  • Every shot off the bat of the batsman will count as a run for the team and batsman.
  • Run scored off the legs will be counted as a run but won’t be accredited into batsman’s account.
  • A batsman can’t walk in the middle of the pitch anytime, even when the bowler is in his run up. If he does so, the umpire will warn him and he keeps doing that despite 2 warnings, the umpire can give 5 penalty runs to the fielding side.
  • A batsman can only play with the bat having dimensions in accordance with the laws of ICC. See bat dimensions in equipments of cricket.
  • If the bowl touches any part of batman’s gloves, the same rules for boundary and catch will be applied as if the ball had hit the bat – he can be given out if caught, and if the ball goes for boundary the runs will be accredited to his account.
  • A batsman can’t touch the ball with his hands – including catching it.


A bowler’s job is to aim at the stumps covered by the batsman or try to get him out by other means. These means shall be discussed below in the post. At the same time, he has to make sure that he goes for a minimum number of runs and picks more wickets.

Bowling Rules in Cricket:

Every bowler has to abide by some general rules in cricket, otherwise he has to pay penalty in the form of No ball or in worst cases, a bowler is stopped from bowling further in the game.

  • A bowler must bowl from behind the white crease drawn at the front of the stumps. If he crosses it while bowling, it is considered a no ball.
  • There are two vertical lines drawn at either side of the pitch, and if the ball is delivered outside those lines, it is considered a wide ball.
  • In ODIS and T20s, a bowl delivered at the leg side of the batsman and it goes past the batsman without touching him or his bat, it is considered as a wide regardless of the fact it was under the line or outside it on the batsman’s leg side.
  • A beamer is a delivery that is bowled at a fast pace, over the batsman’s waist height and it reaches him without bouncing on the pitch. After the 1st beamer – whether intentional or unintentional – umpires give the warning and after the second beamer, a bowler could be permanently dismissed from bowling further in the match.
  • Two bouncers are allowed in an over – a delivery that goes over the shoulder height of the batsman. If the bowler attempts another one, that would be given as a no ball.
  • If the umpire thinks the bowler is intentionally running in the middle of the pitch, he can dismiss him from bowling further after 2 warnings.

Legal Bowling Action: An Illegal Bowling Action is where a player is actually throwing the ball instead of bowling it. ICC has set the limit of 15 degrees between the bowler’s arm reaching the horizontal and the ball being released. If your arm bend is more than that, you could be banned from bowling.


Out of 11 players from the bowling side, 1 bowls at a time, 1 stands behind the wicket (WK) and the rest of them are fielders who are supposed to protect boundaries and try to get the batsman out by catching or runout means. Unlike a batsman or bowler, if one of your fielder gets injured, he can be replaced by a substitute, however, he can’t bowl or bat in place of his injured mate.

Rules for Fielder in Cricket

Likewise, there are some rules that are mandatory for fielders to follow:

  • A Fielder caught intentionally running on the pitch would be reprimanded at first and if he kept doing it, the umpire can give 5 penalty runs to the batting side.
  • Fielder can only catch the bowl with his hands or any body part – using a cap or any such object to catch the ball is illegal.
  • Umpires keep a watch on fielders to ensure that they are not trying to rough up the ball by unnecessarily throwing it on the pitch. If the umpires feel they are, they are warned and in worst cases the fielding side has to bear the penalty of 5 runs.
  • Fielders or any player can’t wear fancy watches on the field.
  • A substitute fielder can’t bat or bowl.

Wicket Keeper

A Wicket Keeper is basically a fielder but unlike other fielders, who keep moving around, he stays behind the wicket. It requires some basic skills like catching or throwing the ball to become a fielder but Wicket Keeping requires special skill – only a specialist does the job. A Wicket Keeper’s job is to collect the ball from behind whenever a batsman is beaten, edged.

How A Best Player is Rewarded?

The best player is picked on the basis of performances – it could be anyone, a bowler, batsman or even Wicket Keeper sometimes. In cricket, every game has a Man of the Match and the criteria is very simple, the one who plays a major role for the winning side gets man of the match. It’s very rare that a player from the losing side gets the Man of the Match award.

Different Formats in Cricket & their Rules

Previously there were only two formats – ODIS AND TESTS. But then, in 2004, a 20-over format was introduced that’s been the most exciting and popular format of cricket today. The reason for its popularity is the pace at which it is played. Let’s have a look at the duration and overs bowled in each format.

Rules in Test Cricket:

  • A Test match lasts for 5 days, 90 overs are bowled on each day (in 7 hours including the breaks).
  • A day of play in test cricket is divided into three sessions of 30 overs each.
  • Unlike in T20 and ODIS, this game is equally balanced for bowlers and batsman as there are no free-hits on no balls – but every no ball costs 1 run like a wide delivery.
  • Every team bats twice and bowls twice if it’s not a one sided game.
  • In its general format, a test match consists of 4 innings – two batting and bowling turns for each team.
  • If one side batting first scores so many runs that the other side stays behind them for 200 or more runs, then they can enforce follow on – if they wish to.
  • In case of follow on, the team put to bat now not only has to clear the deficit of the first inning but now they are supposed to set a target for the opposition, which they will pursue in the next inning.
  • The general objective of the game is the same, the team that scores more runs wins the game.
  • If both the teams end up scoring the same number of runs, then the match is considered a Draw.

Rules in ODI Cricket:

  • An ODI game is a 50-over game that goes on for 7.5 hours in a day (including the innings break). Every team bats once and the one that scores more runs wins it.
  • Each team bats and bowls once.
  • There are 2 power plays during the game which keep fielders on their toes. One from 1st-10th over and the other one starts from 11th-40th over. Maximum 2 players can stay outside the 30-yard circle in first powerplay and 4 in the second one.
  • In an ODI game, a bowler can bowl 10 overs at max.
  • If both teams end up scoring the same number of runs, then the match is considered a tie.
  • Every no-ball is compensated by a free hit.
  • It is played with white ball.

Rules in T20 Cricket:

  • A T20 game is finished in less than 4 hours.
  • Every batsman bats once, every no ball is compensated by a free hit and an extra run is awarded to the batting side.
  • Every team bats twice and bowls twice.
  • There’s only one powerplay – between the first six overs- in which maximum 2 fielders can stay outside the 30 yard circle.
  • Every bowler can ball 4 overs in a game.
  • Tied games are decided by super over.
  • If the super over ends up in tie, then the winner is decided based on the number of runs scored on boundaries.

Difference between Tests, ODIS and T20s

Area of comparison TESTS ODIS T20s
Duration 5 days 7.5 hours 4 hours
No of overs Each team bats twice in 5 days, 90 overs per day Each team bats for 50 overs Each team bats for 20 overs
No of innings 2 innings per side 1 inning per side 1 inning per side
No of players per side 11 11 11
Free hit No free hits Free hit off every no ball Free hit off every no ball
Power plays No power plays Included Included

Reviews in Cricket

Reviews in cricket were introduced in the last decade. A review is like a challenge to the umpire from a batting side or bowling side.

If a batsman or bowler thinks the umpire has given a wrong verdict – mostly in cases of catches and LBWs – then he can challenge the decision.

With the help of technology, the third umpire will review the decision again. The number of reviews in Tests, ODIS and T20s keep varying.

Usually, in Test matches, each side gets 3 reviews in an innings – which are renewed after 180 hours, if the innings lasts that long. And in ODIs and T20s, each side gets 1-2 reviews per innings.

Rules for Substitute and Injuries

  • A team can use a substitute fielder if any of their players go out for a break or due to injury during the game but as said earlier, a substitute can field only.
  • Recently ICC introduced a new rule in which they made a big change – that change is a concussion substitute can come in and exactly fill the same spot as the player.
  • This rule is for concussion that occurred during the game. For instance, if one of the batsman of a team suffers from concussion during the game, and he is declared unfit for the rest of the game by officials and doctors, then the team is allowed to feature a replacement. But the replacement will be like a batsman for a batsman and a bowler for a bowler.
  • As per the new rules of ICC (International Cricket Council), if a WK gets injured, teams can have a substitute – which was previously not allowed – but the substitute can’t bat for the Wicket Keeper (if the substitute Wicketkeeper is not coming in for concussion substitute).

Rules for Rain Affected Games

DLS method (Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method) is used in rain affected games to calculate the target score for the team batting seconds in a limited over cricket match. This method is also applicable for team battings 1st, but a team must have batted for 5 overs in a T20 game and 20 overs in an ODI game for this method to become applicable in order to decide the target score or winner/loser in case of rain interruption.

Famous Cricket Events

The most famous and highly anticipated cricket even takes place after every four years. This event is known as the World Cup. No. of teams participate in the World Cup keeps changing, but at least 8 teams compete for the World Cup Trophy. Other famous and widely followed international cricket tournaments are:

  • Champions Trophy
  • ICC World T20
  • Ashes (played between England and Australia)
  • Asia Cup

Famous Cricket Leagues

Similarly, there are some leagues organized by countries which are widely followed. These leagues are played in T20 format, which is why they sometimes surpass Internal tournaments in terms of following. Some of the names are:

  • IPL (Indian Cricket League
  • BBL (Big Bash League)
  • PSL (Pakistan Super League)
  • CPL (Carribean premier league)
  • BPL (Bangladesh premier League

Famous Stadiums

There are some marvelling cricket stadiums all over the world, some of them are known for their sceneric view while some are enormously big in terms of crowd capacity and area covered. I’m naming a few here:

  • MCG – Melbourne, Australia
  • SuperSport Park – Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Rose Bowl – Southampton, UK
  • The Oval – Surrey, England
  • Newlands – Capetown, South Africa
  • Adelaide Oval – South Australia
  • Edgabaston – Brinmingham, UK
  • Basin Reserve – Welliongton, New zealand
  • The Wanderers Stadium – Johannesburg, South Africa
  • The Gabba – Australia

ICC is the Governing Body

Like every international sport has some governing body, cricket has ICC. ICC’s job is to organize international events, take care of cricket systems all around the globe. Moreover, what new rules are needed or to be modified, it is decided by the ICC.