How Do I Play Cricket?

How to get started

The equipment is all in position, teams have been selected and you understand the basic rules of the game – so now it’s time to get the action underway.

Prior to the match, the six players in each team will have been ranked in order of ability by their respective coaches (1 = low and 6 = high). During an innings, the same ranked players from opposing teams bowl and bat against each other (1 v 1, 2 v 2 etc). This is made possible by placing the ranked fielders in a rotation in the same order as the ranked batters. Once the team line-ups have been organised and announced, the umpires arrange for the coin to be tossed and the successful captain gets to choose whether they would prefer to bat or bowl first. The rankings dictate where the fielders are positioned around the table and when everyone is in place… off you go.

So you fancy yourself as a budding Alastair Cook or Joe Root, do you? Well, you have one over in which to show off your batting skills and scoring runs is not as easy as you might think.

The challenge for the batter is to aim for the green scoring zones around the outside of the table to score 2, 4 or 6 runs. Be sure to avoid the fielders because no runs are scored if you hit the white areas of the fielding panel. If you hit the ball to the ‘Red’ fielder area you are ‘caught’ out, and five runs are deducted from your team’s score. Five runs are also deducted if you are bowled, caught and bowled (when the ball hits the launcher), lbw (if you play the ball with a hand) or caught behind (the batter is out caught by the wicketkeeper or slips if they edge the ball off their end of the table).

The batter is also given out if they hit the ball off the table. If the ball ricochets around the table, no multiple scores are used; only the first contact counts. If the batter misses with their first attempt to strike the ball but connects with further attempts, this becomes a ‘dead ball’ and no runs are scored.

It is also a ‘dead ball’ if the batter strikes the ball twice or a shot fails to reach the sides but in the event of either happening, they do count as a ball in the over.

When bowling, the ball must be sent down a launcher towards the batter. Each delivery must be pushed – not flicked. The key thing to remember is that every time you get the batter out, it’s a massive help to your team because five runs are deducted from the opposition’s score. The bowler has the option of using two balls. The first runs true and the second – known as the swing ball – contains a bias which enables you to ‘bend’ it off line. However, the swing ball can only be used up to twice in any one over. A wide is called if the ball is left or missed by the batter, and is outside of the wide ball marking. Four runs are awarded for a wide but an extra delivery is added only in the last over of each innings.

Never under-estimate the importance of fielding in table cricket because it can be a match-winning contribution if you take a smart catch or prevent a boundary from being scored.

All the fielders positioned around the outside of the table can be moved from side to side – apart from those situated on either side of the launcher – and runs are prevented from being scored when the ball strikes a white area. If the ball hits a fielder in a red zone, that’s when it’s time to celebrate because the batter is caught out and five runs are deducted from his team’s total. After each batter has faced their over(s) the fielders and bowler rotate one place in an anti-clockwise direction.

No one fielder can stay in a specific place – all players must rotate.