A Beginner’s Guide to Cricket Terminology

So you’ve found yourself intrigued by the sport of cricket, but you can’t quite wrap your head around the unfamiliar jargon that seems to come with it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In this beginner’s guide to cricket terminology, we’ll take a look at some of the key terms and phrases you need to know to navigate the world of cricket. Whether you’re a curious observer or aspiring player, this concise dictionary will help you decode the language of this beloved sport. From LBW to googly, let’s uncover the secrets of cricket together.

Basic Terms in Cricket

Cricket is a popular sport with its own unique vocabulary. If you’re new to the game, it’s important to understand some basic terms that are commonly used in cricket. Let’s dive into the fundamental terms you need to know.


The batsman is a player from the batting team who takes his position at one end of the pitch. His main objective is to score runs by hitting the ball bowled by the opposition bowler. The batsman uses a bat to defend the stumps and score runs by hitting the ball into open spaces on the field.


The bowler is a player from the fielding team who delivers the ball to the batsman. The bowler’s aim is to dismiss the batsman by getting him out in various ways. The bowler uses different techniques to bowl the ball, such as seam, swing, spin, and yorker, which we’ll discuss later in the article.


Fielders are players from the fielding team whose main task is to prevent the batsmen from scoring a run or hitting the ball far into the field. They strategically position themselves all around the field to catch the ball, stop boundaries, and aid in dismissing the batsman.


The wicket refers to the set of three stumps and two bails that are positioned at each end of the pitch. The bowler’s primary objective is to hit the wicket and dislodge the bails, which leads to the batsman being dismissed. The wicket is the target for both the batsman and the bowler.


The umpire serves as the game’s official referee, making decisions on the field. There are two umpires in a match, one at each end of the pitch. They ensure that the game is played fairly and according to the rules. Umpires make decisions on various aspects of the game, including whether a batsman is out or not, judging wide deliveries, and ensuring fair play by both teams.

Scoring Terminology

Now that you understand the basic terms in cricket, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the scoring terminology. These terms are essential for understanding how runs are scored and how players’ performances are evaluated.


A run is the fundamental unit of scoring in cricket. It is scored when the batsmen successfully complete a run by crossing each other in the middle of the pitch. Runs can be accumulated not only by running between the wickets but also from boundaries, such as hitting the ball beyond the scoring boundary rope.


When the batsman hits the ball and it reaches the boundary rope without being caught, it is called a boundary. Boundaries can be either a four or a six, depending on how the ball crosses the rope.


A six is scored when the batsman hits the ball and it clears the boundary rope without being caught. It is the highest-scoring shot in cricket and adds six runs to the team’s total.


A duck refers to a batsman getting dismissed without scoring any runs. It is considered an unfortunate occurrence for a batsman, as it indicates that they were unable to contribute to the team’s total score.

Golden Duck

A golden duck occurs when a batsman is dismissed on the very first ball they face. It is an even more unfortunate scenario for the batsman, as they are dismissed without even getting a chance to score.

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A century is a significant milestone for a batsman. It is achieved when a batsman scores 100 runs individually. It is considered an excellent performance, reflecting the skill and determination of the batsman.

Half Century

A half-century is achieved when a batsman scores 50 runs individually. While not as significant as a century, it still demonstrates the batsman’s ability to contribute substantially to the team’s total score.

Bowling Terms

Understanding the different techniques and strategies employed by bowlers is crucial for appreciating their role in cricket. Let’s explore some common bowling terms:

Full Toss

A full toss is a delivery by the bowler that is above the batsman’s waist level without touching the ground. It can be a challenging delivery to play, as the batsman can take advantage of its height and hit it far into the field.


The seam refers to the stitching on the cricket ball. Bowlers often aim to use the seam to their advantage by making it move in different directions, such as bounce or swing, to create difficulty for the batsman.


Swing refers to the lateral movement of the ball through the air. Bowlers use various techniques to make the ball swing, such as adjusting the position of the seam or angling the ball in a specific direction. Swing bowling is particularly challenging for batsmen to handle.


Spin is a type of bowling where the bowler imparts spin on the ball, causing it to deviate off its straight path. Spin bowlers, also known as spinners, can make the ball turn in different directions, making it tricky for the batsman to play shots accurately.


A yorker is a delivery bowled at the batsman’s feet, aiming to hit the base of the stumps. It is a difficult delivery to play, as the batsman needs to react quickly to defend or score runs.

No Ball

A no ball is a delivery that is illegal and results in an extra run for the batting team. It can occur due to various reasons, such as the bowler overstepping the crease line or delivering an illegal delivery.


A wide refers to a delivery that is bowled too wide for the batsman to play a shot. It is considered to be outside the permissible playing area. When a wide is called, an extra run is awarded to the batting team.

Fielding Terms

Fielding is a vital aspect of cricket, as it involves preventing the batsmen from scoring runs and dismissing them through various means. Let’s look at some key fielding terms:


Catches are one of the most exciting moments in cricket. A catch occurs when a fielder successfully catches the ball without it touching the ground after being hit by the batsman. It leads to the batsman being dismissed, adding to the fielding team’s success.

Run Out

A run out occurs when the fielding team successfully removes the bails from the stumps while the batsmen are attempting to complete a run. The batsman who fails to reach the crease on time is considered run out, resulting in their dismissal.


Stumping refers to the dismissal of a batsman by the wicketkeeper when the batsman has left their crease, and the wicketkeeper successfully removes the bails before the batsman can return. Stumpings require quick reflexes and good anticipation from the wicketkeeper.

Maiden Over

A maiden over is when a bowler completes an over without conceding any runs. It demonstrates the bowler’s skill in restricting the batsman’s scoring opportunities and can create pressure on the batting team.

Player Positions

In cricket, players are positioned strategically around the field to maximize their effectiveness in contributing to the team’s performance. Let’s explore some of the key player positions:

Wicket Keeper

The wicket keeper is a specialized player from the fielding team who stands behind the stumps. They wear protective gear and have the responsibility of catching the ball and attempting to dismiss the batsman through catches or stumpings. The wicket keeper plays a crucial role in the fielding team’s success.


Slip is a position near the wicketkeeper, usually on the off side. Slip fielders stand close to each other and are often placed to catch edges of the bat that are behind the wicket.


Gully is another fielding position on the off side, slightly wider than slip. The gully fielder is used to catch the ball if it is hit firmly toward the off side outside the line between slip and point.

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Point is a fielding position on the off side, near the square of the wicket. This position is strategic for stopping the ball hit on the off side and facilitating run-outs.


Cover is a fielding position on the off side, slightly wider than point. The fielder in this position is responsible for preventing runs by stopping the ball hit on the off side.

Mid Off

Mid off is a fielding position on the off side, between the batsman and point. The mid off player often tries to prevent runs by stopping the ball hit in that area.

Mid On

Mid on is a fielding position on the leg side, between the batsman and square leg. The mid on fielder prevents runs by stopping the ball hit in their direction.

Square Leg

Square leg is a fielding position on the leg side, square of the wicket. The fielder in this position helps prevent runs by stopping the ball hit on the leg side and is positioned close to the batsman to catch any mishits.

Fine Leg

Fine leg is a fielding position on the leg side, near the boundary. The fielder in this position helps prevent boundaries by stopping the ball hit on the leg side.

Match Formats

Cricket is played in different formats, each with its own set of rules and unique characteristics. Let’s take a look at the various match formats in cricket:

Test Match

Test matches are the longest form of cricket and the traditional format of the game. These matches can span up to five days with two innings per team. Test matches are played at a slower pace, allowing for more strategic gameplay and testing the skills and endurance of players.

One Day International

One Day Internationals (ODIs) are limited-overs matches where each team gets to bat and bowl for 50 overs. These matches have a time limit and follow a more rapid pace compared to test matches. ODIs are known for their thrilling finishes and high-scoring encounters.


Twenty20 (T20) is the shortest and most fast-paced format in cricket. Each team gets to bat and bowl for 20 overs. T20 matches are known for their aggressive batting, innovative shots, and high-scoring matches. They are particularly popular for their ability to provide action-packed entertainment within a shorter duration.

Domestic Cricket

Domestic cricket refers to cricket matches played at the regional or national level within a specific country. These matches are integral to developing and nurturing talent and serve as the stepping stone for players to progress to the international level. Domestic cricket includes various formats, such as first-class matches, one-day tournaments, and T20 leagues.

Stages of a Cricket Match

Understanding the different stages of a cricket match helps in following the game and appreciating its nuances. Let’s take a closer look at the key stages of a cricket match:


The toss is a crucial moment before the start of a match. The captains of both teams come together, and a coin is tossed to determine which team will bat or bowl first. The winning captain gets to make this decision based on the conditions and their team’s strategy.


An innings refers to the period during which one team gets to bat. In test matches, each team gets to bat twice, while in limited-overs matches, each team gets one innings. The team’s objective during their batting innings is to score as many runs as possible and set a competitive target for the opposing team.


An over is a set of six deliveries bowled by the same bowler from one end of the pitch. After each over, the bowler changes, and the opposite end of the pitch becomes the new bowling end. The number of overs in an innings differs based on the format of the match.


A declaration occurs in test matches when the batting team’s captain voluntarily ends their team’s batting innings before all wickets are dismissed. This strategic decision is made to give the bowling team enough time to dismiss the opponent and win the match.

Follow On

The follow-on is a scenario in test matches when the team batting second scores significantly fewer runs than the team batting first. In such cases, the captain of the team batting first has the option to enforce the follow-on, making the team bat again without a break.

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Cricket Equipment

Cricket requires specific equipment to play the game effectively and safely. Let’s explore the essential equipment used in cricket:


The bat is a wooden instrument used by the batsman to hit the ball. It consists of a long handle connected to a flat surface, known as the blade or face. Bats come in different sizes and weights, allowing players to choose one that suits their preferences and playing style.


The ball is made of cork and leather and is the primary object used for bowling, batting, and fielding. The cricket ball is hard and consists of a core wrapped in layers of yarn. The manufacturer stitches the leather cover over the yarn, which gives the ball its distinctive appearance.


Stumps are three vertical wooden sticks that serve as the target for the bowler. They are positioned at each end of the pitch and are used to determine whether the batsman is out or not. The top of the stumps is fitted with bails.


Bails are small wooden pieces placed on top of the stumps. They dislodge when the stumps are hit and provide a visual representation of the dismissal. If the bails are dislodged, the batsman is considered out.

Protective Gear

Cricket involves risks and demands the use of protective equipment to ensure the safety of players. The most crucial protective gear includes helmets, leg pads, gloves, thigh guards, chest guards, and abdominal guards. These protect the batsman from potentially dangerous bowling deliveries.

Umpire Signals

Umpires communicate vital information to players and spectators through hand signals. Understanding these signals is crucial for following the game and comprehending the decisions made by the umpires. Let’s look at some common umpire signals:


The umpire raises one arm above his head, palms facing outward to signal that the batsman is out.


To indicate that the ball has reached the boundary rope and scored four runs, the umpire extends one arm horizontally and then brings it back towards his chest.


To indicate that the ball has cleared the boundary rope and scored six runs, the umpire extends both arms above his head in a straight line.

No Ball

To signal a no ball, where the bowler has delivered an illegal delivery, the umpire stretches his arm horizontally and moves it in a sweeping motion across his chest.


When a bowler delivers a ball that is out of the batsman’s reach, the umpire extends both arms out horizontally, signaling a wide.


Bye is signaled when the ball passes the batsman without making contact and the batsmen successfully complete a run. The umpire extends one arm horizontally and moves it away from his body.

Leg Bye

Leg bye is signaled when the ball hits the batsman’s body, not the bat, and the batsmen successfully complete a run. The umpire moves one arm horizontally, touching his thigh, and then moves it away from his body.

Historical Cricket Terms

Cricket has a rich history, and over time, certain terms have emerged that are unique to the game. Let’s explore some historical cricket terms:


Bodyline refers to a controversial bowling tactic employed by the English cricket team during the 1932-33 Ashes series against Australia. This tactic involved bowlers deliberately bowling deliveries aimed at the batsman’s body to restrict scoring opportunities. The strategy caused significant controversy and resulted in rule changes to protect the batsmen.


Chinaman is a type of left-arm unorthodox spin bowling. Chinaman bowlers are typically left-handed and deliver wrist spin with a leg-spinner’s action. The term originated from a delivery bowled by Ellis Achong, a Chinese-origin cricketer who represented the West Indies.


A googly is a deceptive delivery bowled by a spinner, usually a leg-spinner. It spins in the opposite direction to what the batsman expects. The googly is often difficult to read and can lead to the dismissal of an unsuspecting batsman.


Skipper is a term commonly used to refer to the captain of a cricket team. It originated from the British Navy, where the captain of a ship was called the “skipper.” The captain is responsible for leading the team on the field, making strategic decisions, and communicating with the umpires.


The Ashes is a historic cricket series played between England and Australia. The name originated from a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper in 1882, declaring that English cricket had died and its ashes had been taken to Australia. The series became symbolically significant, representing the intense rivalry between the two cricketing nations.

In conclusion, cricket terminology is essential for understanding the intricacies of the game. From basic terms like batsman, bowler, and fielder to scoring terminology, bowling terms, fielding terms, and player positions, this article has covered a wide range of cricket terms. Additionally, it explored different match formats, stages of a cricket match, equipment used, umpire signals, and historical cricket terms. With this beginner’s guide to cricket terminology, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying and appreciating the game of cricket.