Ireland are playing India this morning in the Cricket World Cup – and while we're not expecting a win by any means, the spectacle of the boys in green facing one of the world's best teams will no doubt be very attractive to die-hard fans and blow-ins alike.
And while the game may seem like a confusing one, it's actually quite simple to get your head around if you know the basics. So here, to help you tell your ODI from your LBW and your oval from your wicket, is our idiot's guide to World Cup cricket in six simple points.
What do all those words mean?
Right, let's start with the basic terminology so we're not explaining as we go.
- Over: Six balls, all thrown by the same bowler.
- Innings: Each team bats for one innings, and bowls/fields for the other. An innings last for 50 overs or until 10 members of the batting team are bowled out (either by one of their balls being caught before hitting the ground, or the
- Run: When a batsman strikes the ball, he and his partner make as many runs as possible to the opposite wicket and back – but must be back at the wicket before the fielding team can reach them with the ball.
- Dot: When a player doesn't score any runs from a ball.
- Wicket: The term used to describe the wooden thingimajig you see the batsman standing in front of, but also for when a player is dismissed. So Ireland need to 'take 10 wickets' to end an innings… something which is absolutely not going to happen against India.
- Four: When the ball reaches the boundary of the field, the batting team are given four runs.
- Six: As above, only the ball doesn't hit the ground first and the batting team is awarded six runs. (Cricket fun fact: This is where the phrase 'knocked for six' comes from. So there you go now.)
How do the World Cup matches work?
Test cricket can be tricky to keep track of, with a multitude of innings and all sorts of things that we simple folk can't possibly understand. However, the simplified format for the World Cup is fairly… well, simple.
Both teams have an opportunity to bat once, and both have an opportunity to field once. The team that bats first has 50 overs (300 balls) to score as many runs as possible, thus setting a 'target' for the other team – they then have to beat that score.
So if Ireland bat first and score 350 runs, the opposition will have to score 351 runs to end the game with a win. If they fail to, or if Ireland bowl out 10 of their players, they lose. Yes, your fears were misplaced; it really is that simple.
How on earth do you read those scoreboards?
A cricket scoreboard can look like a baffling array of facts, figures, metrics, KPIs and random numbers all dotted around in a seemingly haphazard manner. Really, though, there are only two numbers you really need to take note of: the run count and the wicket count.
The run count is, as you might expect, the number of runs scored by a team. The wicket count is the number of players bowled out by the opposing team. So if a team is 313-8 (pronounced '313 for eight'), that team has scored 313 runs and had eight players bowled out, or wickets.
Surely who bats first and who bats second dictates the game massively?
It certainly does. And that's all down to a coin toss – the team that wins the toss gets to choose. Serious business right there, though they don't do it with quite the finesse of Joe Namath at a Super Bowl...
How do you know who's winning?
Simple answer: you don't.
They say football is a game of two halves, but World Cup cricket is even more so – once a team has batted and set their score, that's it from them. All they can do is retire to the dugouts, and hope their bowlers put in a display that will ensure their target score isn't reached.
However, the best way to track progress during the second innings is by watching the batting team's Target RPO (runs per over). This is the average number of runs they need per six balls in order to ensure they reach the target score and win the game – if it creeps up too high, more than around 10, then you know there's trouble.
Am I allowed drink even though it's early in the morning because Ireland are playing?
You do what you like, buddy. Just don't blame us if you get fired.
Okay, shut up and show me some cool cricket stuff.