The cheat's guide to surviving the cricket season.

Big Bash League
Thanks to our brand partner, Big Bash League

Everything you were too embarrassed to ask before now.

Your brother-in-law goes on and on and on about it.

Your husband likes watching it on a Friday night (while you read your book in the other room).

Your dad was pretty obsessed when you were growing up.

Now, after all of these years of happily knowing nothing, you find yourself faced with a dilemma. Your 7-year-old wants to go to a live match… and he wants you to take him. You can’t go along knowing absolutely nothing. You realise you have no choice… you finally have to… (gulp)… learn about CRICKET.

From a cricket-loving mum to a why-do-they-keep-running-back-and-forth novice, this is your beginner’s guide to cricket. Don’t be scared, I will keep it simple (think Mary Poppins with the spoonful of sugar). Here are the key terms, what they mean and a few phrases you can yell out at a Friday night Big Bash League match and be guaranteed not to sound silly.

Bowler: That’s the guy running in and bowling the ball, you will hear weird words like ‘googly’ and ‘seam’ and ‘swing’ and ‘pace’. A simple rule of thumb? The longer their run up the faster they bowl. If their run up is two hop steps they’re a spinner. If it’s a really long, fast, exhausting-looking sprint, they’re a fast bowler or ‘paceman’. If there is a fast bowler, you can impress with a phrase like ‘oooh he’s got some good pace on him’.

Batsman: The guy with the bat. He is trying to hit the ball as far as possible. The two batsmen who come out at the start and make a big show of running onto the field stretching are the opening batsmen or ‘openers’.

Runs: If the batsmen hits the ball and runs one length, that is one run. If they run two lengths it is two runs… and so on. If the ball hits the rope on the boundary it’s four runs and if it goes over the rope/fence on the full it’s six runs. Everyone gets very excited by a six, so when it happens jump up and put your arms over your head like this…

Over: No, this doesn’t mean the match is over, even if you would like it to be. An over is six balls bowled from the same end, by the same bowler. You know when an over is… well, over, because the bowler will stop running in, and often go over to the umpire to get his hat back. You will also notice all of the players on the field rearrange themselves into new positions.

Out: HOWZAT!!!! Will be yelled repeatedly throughout the match. A batsman can get out in lots of confusing ways, but the main ones are: bowled, caught, LBW and run-out. Bowled means the batsmen misses and the ball hits his stumps. Caught is easy, he hits it, someone catches it. LBW… this one needs its own explanation, see below. Run-out, someone uses the ball to knock the bails (see below) off the stumps (see below) before the batsman gets back to his crease (see below).


LBW: Don’t worry about understanding this one, it is the cricket equivalent of the offside rule in soccer. Never fear though, you can fake it. If the ball hits the batsman’s pad and all of a sudden the bowler and all the fieldsmen are jumping up and down like their feet are being attacked by killer ants it is probably an appeal for LBW (stands for leg before wicket). When you see this happen you can impress everyone by saying ‘no way, it pitched outside the line’. OK, now that is starting to sink in and your face looks something like this:

Stumps: The three bits of wood behind the batsmen at each end. On top of the three stumps are two little bits of wood called bails. If the bails are knocked off, it usually means someone is out.

Crease: You know how the batsmen is always dragging his foot back and forth across the ground in front of him in a pretty good imitation of a chicken? Well the spot where he is standing is called a crease. There is actually a line marking his crease and he needs to get behind it after running down the pitch or he will be run-out.

Innings: In the Big Bash League each side plays 20 overs (see above if you’ve forgotten what an over is). When one side’s 20 is up that is the end of the innings. There will be a scoreboard showing you which over it is. The scoreboard will also say something like 4/105, which means four batsmen have played for a while, then got out, but managed to get 105 runs along the way. Got it? This score would be said out loud as ‘four for one hundred and five’.

If you are currently rocking back and forth moaning I have some good news for you. Cricket is no longer a five-day epic odyssey. The Big Bash League is a short, fun, action-packed form of cricket. It only goes for about three hours, is great value for money and features dancers, fireworks, great music and lots of big hits. So even if you still want to pitch the stumps up the batsman’s crease after reading this give the BBL a shot this summer, you may end up a cricket lover after all.

What sport would you like fully explained?

And if you’re in the mood for more cricket, here’s everything you can expect at a BBL match.