Posted on: 20 January 2023
Whether you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to pick up your cricket bat again (maybe you’re picking it up for the first time) or have a budding Ben Stokes or Sophie Ecclestone on your hands at home, you may be pondering over where to start if getting into cricket is on your to-do list for 2023. We’ve taken a look at some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve seen to put together this handy guide for you.
Can you start at any age?
Cricket really is a sport for all – in fact, most clubs will accept anyone over the age of 5 years old to join their ranks. Age isn’t the only factor to consider either – over 1,000 clubs across the UK now offer a Women and Girls’ side making it even easier to get involved with the game. There are also more and more opportunities emerging in Disability Cricket, where cricket formats have been developed to enable the visually impaired and hard of hearing to play, as well as leagues and competitions for those with physical or learning disabilities. We said cricket is for everyone and we meant it!
How hard is cricket to understand?
If you can’t tell your googly from your plum – don’t panic! There are a lot of funny words used in cricket that could bamboozle even the keenest of first timers. The rules of the game itself are also relatively simple, once broken down.
In terms of the absolute basics, cricket is a game played between two teams of 11 players, with a group of umpires in charge of officiating. Similar to other hard ball sports like baseball or softball, one team will go into bat (with the aim of scoring as many runs as possible) while the other fields (and attempts to get the batters out). The winner is the team that scores more runs than the other team. Simple right?
Okay – it gets a little more complicated than that once all the rules have been accounted for, not to mention the different formats of the game too. However, you’ll learn all the essentials as you go along so there’s no need to panic. To save you any initial confusion, we’ve popped together a quick glossary of some of the more confusing words in the cricketing lexicon!
Scoring a duck: Scoring a duck is something you definitely don’t want to do. This is when you score no runs as a batter, an embarrassing fate which has fallen upon even the most capable of batters. Even worse would be to score a golden duck – to score zero and get out against the first ball you face. Ouch.
Duckworth Lewis Stern: Confusingly enough, this isn’t connected to scoring a duck. Instead, this is a clever (or complicated, depending on how you look at it) calculation that is brought into use when a game has been affected by rain to help determine the winner. It looks a little something like this:
Googly: Yep – you’ve guessed it – nothing to do with Google! A Googly is where a bowler who would usually spin the ball away from a right-handed batsman spins it toward him instead (and vice versa for a left-handed batsman). When a bowler who would normally spin the ball toward a right-handed batsman spins it away from him, that would be called a doosra.
Why the names? Doosra means ‘the second one’ or ‘the other one’ in Urdu, but the meaning behind a Googly is a little trickier to pin down. It’s thought that it perhaps derives from the word ‘googie’ – a word for egg, due to the unusual direction of bounce – but no one is 100% sure.
Plum: Not the fruit! If something is described as being ‘plum’ it means that a batter has been given out for LBW (when their leg is in front of and blocking the ball from hitting the wicket) and the ball has hit their pads directly in front of the wicket. It actually derives from the saying of something being ‘plumb in front’.
Silly mid off: Bit silly, no? We jest – this is in fact a fielding position where the fielder stands close-in on the opposite side of the batsman. There are lots of other funny sounding fielding positions too, such as gully, fine leg, and fly but we’ll write about them in more detail another time!
Sitter: A word with similar meanings across all sports! If football is more your game, you’ve probably heard this one lots – in cricket this would be an easy catch for a fielder. No one wants to miss a sitter!
Slog sweep: To slog a ball is to hit it as far and as hard as you can. A slog sweep is a shot that a batter can pull in which they go down on one knee and hit the ball behind themselves for a six.
Where is my nearest team?
It’s never been easier to find your nearest club if you’re looking for one to join. By using a tool like the English Cricket Board’s Find a Club tool, you can discover all the clubs in your area, as well as filtering by the gender, age group and category of cricket on offer – it works for addresses right across the UK too.
What training will I need to do?
Whether you’re playing for fun or have your sights set on higher plains, you’ll need to do a variety of training to make sure you can be the best that you can be when you’re on the field, not to mention reducing your risk of sustaining any injuries!
Your training will likely be split into two areas – skills based and fitness based.
Skills based training will focus on the fundamentals of your game: batting, bowling and fielding. You may find yourself spending an evening in the nets for example. This is where you’ll do a lot of work on your batting, imagining your slogging ball after ball over the boundary to extra cover or defending a ball from one the world’s best bowlers. You’ll also come here to practice your bowling too – bowling in an empty net can actually help you to refine your skills without the distraction (or threat) of a batter on the receiving end.
There’s also the need to practice your fielding too – which can be done in a number of ways. A lot of this comes down to catching the ball, but it also requires some sprint practice for chasing after a ball as it runs away to a boundary too. Just some of the training exercises you could find yourself doing include:
Slips catching practice: As already mentioned, catching the ball is one of, if not the most, important aspect of fielding in cricket as it’s one of the easier ways to get a player out! Catching the ball in the slips (closer to the batter) requires quick reaction times and the ability to think fast.
High ball catching practice: Another catching drill comes with high ball catching practice. This is used to practice catching balls that have been hit high up into the air – as the name suggests! This can sometimes be easier than catching in the slips, as you have longer to react and set your sights on the ball before it lands – however, it can be tricky on an extra sunny day!
Pick and throw: Getting the ball back from the deep of the pitch to the bowler is a good way to stop the opposing team from being able to score too many runs. However, collecting the ball from the ground and throwing it in requires a high level of capability in a number of skills, including flexibility, aim and strength.
Hitting the stumps: When all else fails, you can always get a player out by stumping them – but you need to be able to aim at the stumps for this to work! In this training drill, you’ll spend a lot of time perfecting your throw towards a set of stumps, and further honing your aim.
Regardless of your favoured discipline, you’ll soon find that practice makes perfect!
How much will my kit cost?
The cost of your kit can vary and is dependent on a number of factors – for example, is any kit provided by your club? Do you already have some stored away in the back of a wardrobe? Do you need to buy all the various bits of protective equipment if you’re playing soft instead of hard ball cricket?
In the event of having to buy a full kit from scratch, we have items to suit both ends of the budget spectrum, as well as everything in between. Using an example kit list of: bag, bat, arm guard, chest guard, helmet, batting gloves, leg pads, thigh pad, a box, cap, cricket shirt, trousers and shoes, buying the full list for your child could cost around £300 if you stuck to cheaper alternatives. On the other hand, if you’re able to spend that little bit more, then a maximum total cost of around £600 is achievable.
If you’re buying for yourself on the other hand, the full list could come in at a total of anywhere between £550 to £1725. Why the big price difference? Some adult equipment, especially protective gear, has to be well constructed due to the speeds and forces that can be reached in the adult game. Bats are more expensive as more material needs to be used, all while keeping the bat light enough to be manageable on the field.
Can I get any advice in-store?
Of course! Our stores in Huddersfield, Knutsford, Hemel Hempstead, Newhey, Leatherhead and Colchester play host to the expert store staff who are on hand to help with any queries you may have. Simply pop in or visit our contact page to get in touch with us directly – we’d be happy to help.