Fundamentals of Cricket – Test, ODI & T20

The Forms of Cricket

Cricket is played in three very distinct forms. The first is an extended version of the game over 5 days –during which a specific number of hours of playing time are allocated and each team plays two innings.

The second and third are limited overs, in which each team plays one innings of a pre-determined number of overs.

  1. Test Cricket

Test cricket matches are the most prestigious games, played at a professional level. Test matches are played over five days, with six hours of play each day. Each day’s play is divided into three sessions of two hours each, with a 40 minute break between the first two session for lunch, and a 20 minute tea break between the last two sessions. A short drinks break is taken once an hour, or more often in very hot weather. Play usually goes from 11:00 local time to 18:00, although this may be varied if sunset occurs early. The scheduled close of play time is called stumps. Test matches are never played under artificial lighting. Test Cricket is typically played in white clothing.

Each team has two innings, usually played in alternating order. Each innings is over when either ten batsmen are out, or the captain of the batting side declares the innings closed (for strategic reasons, more later). When all the innings are completed, the team with the most runs wins. If there is a tie, the result stands (this is rare – it has only ever happened twice).

If by the end of the final day’s play all the innings are not completed, the game is a draw, no matter who appeared to be “winning”. Thus the strategic importance of sometimes declaring an innings closed, in order to have enough time to dismiss the other team and so win the game.

The order of the innings alternates except when the follow-on is enforced. This can occur if the second team to bat in the first innings scores 200 or more runs fewer than the first team. The captain of the first team may then ask the second team to follow on: to bat its second innings immediately, and defer his own team’s second innings until afterwards.

Whenever a change of innings occurs during a session, a ten minute break is taken. If the end of an innings occurs within ten minutes of the end of the first or second sessions, the ten minute break is lost and the scheduled interval is shifted to begin immediately. If the end of an innings occurs within ten minutes of stumps, the day’s play ends early.

Test matches are played with a red cricket ball. Although recently the advent of pink ball test matches under lights are being experimented with. A new ball is used for the beginning of each innings. The same ball must be used throughout the innings. The captain of the bowling team may elect to take a new ball at any time after 80 overs have been bowled with the previous ball. If the ball is damaged, either by the stitching coming undone or the ball becoming clearly non-spherical, it is replaced.

On each day of play in a Test match, a minimum of 90 overs must be bowled. If the bowling team has not bowled the required minimum by the scheduled stumps time, play is extended until the required number of overs have been bowled. If a day’s play ends early because of poor weather conditions, all calculations are reset for the next day.

If there is heavy cloud cover, the umpires may decide that the ambient light level is too low and that the batsmen may be in danger because of difficulty in sighting the ball. If so, they offer the light to the batsmen, who may agree to leave the field or may decide to play on. If the light deteriorates further, the umpires will offer again. If the batsmen decide to leave the field and the light improves, the umpires make the decision to resume play.

Test matches are played in Series between two of the official Test nations. A Test Series consists of a set number of matches, from one to six, all of which are played to completion, even if one team gains an unassailable lead in the Series. Series of three or five matches are most common. Some pairs of nations compete against one another for a perpetual trophy. If a Series between two such nations is drawn, the holder of the trophy retains it.

Test Cricket
Test Cricket – White Clothing

One-Day Cricket

One-day cricket differs significantly from first class cricket. A one-day match is played on a single day. Either a red or a white cricket ball may be used, and play under artificial lighting is common. One day Cricket is played in a 50 over a side innings format, with colored clothing.

Each innings is complete at the end of the stipulated number of overs, no matter how many batsmen are out. If ten batsmen are out before the full number of overs are bowled, the innings is also over. If the first team’s innings ends in this manner, the second team still has its full number of overs to score the required runs. The timing of the innings and the break between them are not regulated.

Whichever team scores the most runs wins. A tied score stands. There is no draw result. If the match is washed out, so that the innings are not played, the game is declared a no-result.

In each innings, each bowler is restricted to bowling a maximum number of overs equal to one fifth of the total number of overs in the innings. Either a single new ball is used for each innings, or two new balls which are alternated between overs. (This is often done with white balls because they wear much faster than red balls.) New balls are never taken during an innings, but replacements for lost or damaged balls are taken as in first class matches.

In case of rain interruption to the first innings, the number of overs for each innings is recalculated so that they will be the same. If rain interrupts the second innings, making it impossible for an equal number of overs to be bowled, the number of runs scored by the first team is adjusted to compensate. The standard adjustment formula now used is the “Duckworth-Lewis method”, which is arcane even for cricket aficionados and too complicated to describe here. There is also a predetermined number of overs that must be bowled in each innings for any result to be considered valid; if this limit is not reached the game is a no-result.

Because of the emphasis on scoring runs quickly, wide balls and high balls (called as no ball) are penalized more with a run given on each occasion (and free hit for no balls).

One-day competitions are played either as Series between pairs of international teams, round-robin competitions among groups of international teams, or round-robins among domestic teams. A World Cup one-day competition is played between all the Test nations every four years.

One Day Cricket – 50 overs


A new style of game has taken some of the cricketing world by storm. It is a whole new ball game, an enhancement of the one day game to make the game fast, furious and instant. It has had the effect of brining a new audience to the sport. It is full of action and appealing to the younger crowd. The purists of the game don’t like it, but if it brings large crowds to watch cricket, it has to be good for the game overall.

The game is played on normal cricket grounds with traditional one-day rules, with the some exceptions. There are still plenty of minor rules variations, but listed here are the rules that were used for the first international game of 20/20 played in Australia, between Australia A and Pakistan on Jan 13th 2005 at the Adelaide Oval. I expect that the rules will evolve as more and more games are played.

These are general rules, which are being modified over time and they are not used in this form for each game or at all tournaments.

  • There are twenty overs only per side.
  • Each bowler is restricted to a maximum of four overs.
  • Fielding restrictions in the first six overs – two fielders outside circle with a minimum of two stationary fielders.
  • Fielding restrictions for overs 7-20 – maximum five fielders allowed outside of circle.
  • A ‘no-ball’ is worth 2 runs, and the batsman gets a free hit after a no-ball.
  • Each side has just 80 minutes to get through their 20 overs. There is 15 minutes between innings.
  • There are run penalties for each over which hasn’t been bowled in the allocated time.
  • The next batsman has 90 second after the fall of a wicket to get to the crease.


That concludes our Fundamental of Cricket series! I hope it provided a much better understanding of the game. For more comprehensive Cricket content, please subscribe below!


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