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The ultimate cricket cheatsheet to get you through the summer.

After some painful months (although, some would say years) in the doldrums, Australian cricket may finally be on the way back to achieving our former glory. Our turning point was on Tuesday when Australia took an unassailable lead in the best of five Ashes Series with a win in Perth. The #returntheurn campaign succeeded.

We haven’t held the urn – the tiny, yet highly coveted Ashes prize – since our success in the 2006/7 series. I won’t explain the history of the actual Ashes urn as you can amuse, or frustrate, yourself with the banter on the post earlier this week.

I know some people say cricket is boring, but, as anyone who watched the recent Test matches in Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth will tell you, it can be very exciting. Edge of the seat stuff. Nail-biting. Nerve-wrecking. Electrifying. And, yes, it can convert a sporting cynic into a patriotic supporter.

To enjoy the competitiveness of the game, it helps to know the basics. So, when the ladies at the Mamamia office came knocking for an outline of some of the basics, I was happy to oblige.

Here’s some frequently used cricket terms explained to get you started…

An Over: the delivery of six consecutive balls by one bowler. A ‘maiden over’ is one in which no runs are scored.

Runs: are scored when each batter runs the length of the pitch at the same time (but in opposite directions), crossing over in the middle and then grounding their bat over the popping crease (which is the line the batter stands behind when facing a delivery). Whoever had hit the ball is the person who scores the run/s. Even though both players run, only one gets to have the runs recorded as part of their score.

A Single: one run.

This is a cricket bat. Although not a proper one.

A Four: happens when the ball is hit to the boundary of the oval by bouncing or running along the ground. Four runs are scored without the need for the batters to run. Sometimes, the boundary is the actual fence. Other times, there is a rope or triangular foam near the fence line that indicates the boundary line.

A Six: happens when the ball is hit over the boundary without bouncing. Again, there is no need for the batters to run up and down the pitch to score the six runs.

A Wicket: is achieved when a batter gets out. The umpire will extend their pointer finger and raise that arm up into the air to indicate the wicket has fallen. The batter then returns to the dressing room and the next one comes out to play. Each team has to get 10 wickets before the team is considered ‘out’ and then the team that was batting becomes the fielding team.

A Duck: is the name given to a batter’s score of zero.

A Golden Duck: is humiliating! It means the batter got out on the first ball faced, without scoring a run.

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A Century: is a score of 100 runs. It’s also called a ton. Only one English player, Ben Stokes, has scored a century in this Ashes series so far. Australia has had five players score seven centuries (Dave Warner and, our captain, Michael Clarke have scored centuries twice in this series).

Nervous Nineties: is the ‘condition’ suffered when a player is close to scoring a century. Generally, nerves set in and they may start playing more conservatively and mistakes can happen. It’s not uncommon for a player to fall just short of scoring a century.

The Umpire Decision Review System: is often abbreviated to DRS. It is a technology-based system used to review controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires. Watching replays (which we can also see on the big screen at the game and/or on TV) enables the off-field DRS umpire to decide if the player who is batting is out or not. There are a limited number of times a team can use this system, so the choice as to when to review an umpire’s decision is critical and has become a strategic part of the game.

Test Cricket: is the traditional form of the game. Players wear white and the game can last for up to 5 days. The Ashes Series is made up of five Test matches.

One Day International: is known as limited overs cricket. In an ODI, each team bowls 50 overs and the whole game is over within a day. It starts in the afternoon and goes into the evening. Players wear a coloured uniform which some people think look little like pajamas.

Twenty 20: is the newest form of the game. It is also called T20. Only 20 overs are bowled by each team, which means the aim is to get as many runs as possible as quickly as possible. It encourages a more aggressive style of cricket with the players taking more risks when they are batting. It’s exciting to watch as often lots of fours and sixes are hit. The catches can be spectacular. It’s a great way to be introduced to cricket. Players wear brightly coloured uniforms. Our domestic T20 competition is called the Big Bash League and the 2013/14 competition started last night in Melbourne. The domestic Women’s T20 – the WT20 – started in October and continues through until February.

There are still two Tests to come.

Although we’ve won the Ashes Series there are still two more Tests to come: the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne at the MCG and the fifth and final New Year’s Test in Sydney in early January at the SCG. England will be playing for pride and Australia will be aiming for a series whitewash, so expect the battle to be fierce.

To learn more about this great game, check out this cricket pocket guide or register for a cricket workshop. You can also learn more by following the action on twitter with @know_the_game and @cricketaus. There are also a number of parody cricket accounts on twitter which can provide lots of amusement while you’re watching the game.

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And, once the Ashes are over, there’s plenty more cricket happening over the summer.

The English team will stay in Australia to compete against us in a One Day International Series throughout January and then the Twenty20 Series from 29 January to 2 February.

The Southern Stars, our national women’s team, will face England in the Women’s Ashes Series starting on 10 January 2014. The format of the women’s series is different to the men’s series. Instead of being a best of five Test matches, it is based on a point scoring system using the results of one Test match, three ODIs and three T20 games. The team that accrues the most points across all three formats of the game will win the series. Like the men’s team, Australia is aiming to win the Ashes back from England.

Paula Ward is founder and director of Know The Game, a business focused on educating people about Australia’s most popular sports. Through workshops and sporting pocket guides, the emphasis is to assist people who have not grown up watching or playing Australian sports and now find themselves in a work or social situation where sport is frequently discussed. You can follow, like, link, or subscribe to their free e-news, From The Sidelines.

And in other sporting news this week…

– The Hockeyroos have come back to the forefront of sport internationally after winning a silver medal at the inaugural World League Tournament in Tucuman, cementing their place amongst the world’s top four nations. Though beaten by the Netherlands with a score of 5-1, their head coach Adam Commens has said, “we’re now among the top teams in the word….and well placed going into the World Cup next year”.

– The Aussie women’s water polo team, The Aussie Stingers, have unfortunately lost in a Holiday Cup Clash against an undefeated US team. Whilst we claimed the fourth quarter 2-1, it was ultimately too large a gap for the team to make up, with the final score at 9-5.

– Netball Australia has appointed a new assistant coach position for the Australian Diamonds team. Former Aussie captain Michelle den Dekker will now become assistant coach of the team until October 2015, replacing her previous position as a specialist defensive coach.  The Australian team begin their 2014 Commonwealth Games campaign against Wales on Thursday 24 July.

– Matilda’s striker Linda “Sunni” Hughes was inducted into the FFA Hall of Game in Melbourne this week. Hughes played for the Matildas between 1989 and 2000, scoring 24 times and playing 78 international matches. FFA Chief Executive Officer David Gallop said, “Jimmy and Sunni have both made invaluable contributions to the Australian football history and thoroughly deserve to take their place in the FFA Hall of Fame.”

– Meg Lanning has been named as the new vice-caption of the Southern Star’s Cricket team during this summer’s Ashes series. The 21-year-old from Victoria will work with captain Jodie Fields to reclaim the Ashes from England. You can read the new squad line up here.

Have you seen anything in the sporting world that you’d like to talk about?

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