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March 20, 2007 > The curious sport of cricket

The curious sport of cricket

By Mona Shah

Cricket fever is once again consuming much of the world, including the greater Tri-City area diverse population. All over the globe, fans are gearing-up for the 2007 International Cricket Council World Cup matches, played every four years. This year the ICC World Cup takes place in the West Indies from March 13 to April 28.

Cricket is the sport of choice and the object of great fervor in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean Islands, Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia. It's a common sight to see people congregated in front of TVs, raptly watching a match, or walking with radios glued to their ears, listening for cricket scores. Now of course you can easily download the scores on your cell-phone with timely updates.

A gentleman's game, cricket is a bat and ball sport played with two teams of 11 players. A cricket match is played on an oval-shaped grass field in the centre of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards long, called a pitch. At each end of the pitch is a set of three parallel wooden stakes (stumps) driven into the ground, with two small crosspieces (bails), lightly laid on top. The completed structure is called a wicket.

The goal of the defenders game is to get the batsman out before he scores any runs. A bowler (similar to a pitcher in baseball) bowls, at great speed, a hard leather ball to the batsman, who defends the wicket with his bat. (Cricket bats are flat, wooden rectangles that taper into a round handle on one end.) After striking the ball, the batsman races across the pitch to the other wicket. Meanwhile, a "non-striker" positioned opposite the batsman also races across the pitch where he will take up the bat if neither runner is thrown out, tagged out, or the ball isn't caught on the fly.

A successful exchange on the pitch results in one run scored. Once a runner is out, the next member of the team replaces him. Each team then bats its way through all 11 players to complete the cricket version of an inning (a half-inning in baseball). Additional scoring chances include a "four-run" which is scored when a batted ball leaves the field of play without being caught by a defender, but touching the ground first. A "six-run" score results when a ball is batted out of the field of play without touching the ground (similar to a home run in baseball).

Traditional matches are completed when the agreed-upon time expires. Typically, cricket matches run for five days ... yes, five (5) days! The team with the most runs before time expires score wins, unless time expires before the first team finishes its inning. Then the match is declared a draw, no matter the score. (Runs are scored in much greater numbers than in baseball; 400 - 500 runs per team are not uncommon in traditional matches.)

There are several ways to get the batsman out.

- Bowled out: the bowler knocks the bail off wicket with the ball.

- Leg before wicket (LBW): an umpire will rule a batsman out LBW if the batsman uses his body to protect the wicket.

- Run out: a fielder catches the ball outside the pitch and throws it at the wicket, knocking it down before the batsman reaches there.

- Caught out: a fielder catches a batted ball before it hits the ground.

World Cup matches are played under the "one-day cricket" rules, designed to peak fan interest. The biggest difference between traditional and one-day play is a limit on the number of "overs" (pitches) from a bowler to a batsman.

Australia is the defending champion from the 2003 World Cup, held in South Africa. This year, handicappers are seeing a wide open field of teams with no clear favorite.

A total of 51 matches will be played in this World Cup, contested by 16 nations divided into four groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group will then compose what's called the Super 8. There will be 24 matches amongst the Super 8, paring the winners into a semi-final group of four, and then the championship match between the two surviving teams.

For up-to-date information, please visit www.icc-cricket.com.

To learn more about cricket or to follow the World Cup play, visit www.cricinfo.com.


ICC World Cup broadcasts

Naz 8 Cinema
39160 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont.
(510) 797-2000www.naz8.com
On game days, all matches will be broadcast live.
Tickets: $10 each or $50 for a season pass


Britannia Arms (two locations only)
5027 Almaden Expressway, San Jose
(408) 266-0550

1087 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino
All matches will be shown
Admission: free
(408) 252-7262


Indian Movie Center
1433 The Alameda, San Jose
Limited schedule, all beginning at 7 a.m. (check website for dates)
Free breakfast
Admission: free
(408) 603-4700
http://www.imc6.com/santa.shtml

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