(Note: This is the second of a multi-part explanation of cricket. Click here for the first installment.)
A good cricket shot is all about timing — as is posting on this sports blog. In that vein, with the England cricket team putting India to the sword earlier this week to even up their four-match series at 1-1, this seemed like a good time to revisit "Cricket for the Confused." In that first post, I vowed to explain a bit more about the different forms of cricket to demonstrate that it is not all week-long contests in a somewhat austere environment with players dressed in their white PJs. Nope. Twenty20 cricket is full of swagger, music, cheerleaders and massive shots to cow corner. Read on.
Twenty20 cricket, often abbreviated as T20, was introduced 9 years ago in England in an attempt to appeal to a new fan base. It has the same basic rules as Test match cricket, but the action is condensed into a three-hour dynamic spectacle that expedites the end result and gives spectators more entertainment. Each team has 20 overs to score as many runs as possible. Whoever gets the most runs wins. Simple. In the longer form of the game, you occasionally get to see an extravagant shot for six (runs) during a day's play. In T20, you see it pretty much every third ball. It's tailor-made for watching live either on TV or at the grounds, complete with loud music and trumpets.
Despite its humble beginnings, T20 is now played all over the globe, in tournaments and leagues worth millions of dollars. For example, the Indian Premier League's (IPL) brand is worth approximately $3 billion and involves some of the best players from all over the cricketing world. And cheerleaders, too, which I'll admit doesn't go down very well with cricket purists.
Despite the international success, colorful outfits, fancy team names and undeniable in-game excitement, T20 is not quite regarded on a par with five-day Test match cricket. As former England captain Alec Stewart wrote this week in a BBC commentary, "If Twenty20 is like fast food, then Test cricket is Michelin-star dining."
Personally, I love a good burger to go, and whether your taste buds crave filet mignon or custard creams, you still have to be up to speed with all the cricket vocabulary. So we continue….
Guide to cricket terms, part II
Cow corner: The area of the field where "sloggers" hit the ball, which basically means that the shot isn't really in any technical manual. Fielding teams rarely have a fielder there (unless Adam Gilchrist or Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff is batting) as the ball shouldn't go there too often. The terminology stems from the saying "You could have cows grazing there and they wouldn't be in danger of being hit." This does not apply in T20 games. In fact, you shouldn't have any cows anywhere near the cricket ground for Twenty20 games.
12th man: Basically a team's substitute player who is used for a) fetching drinks and snacks for more skillful teammates during play, b) covering loo breaks for more skillful team mates during play, c) rushing replacement gloves and groin protection technology onto the field at random times for more skillful teammates during play. In short, this is the team's vassal.
Silly mid-on: A fielding position located dangerously near the batsman, typically manned by the fielding team's most inexperienced player (or the 12th man if said young player is in the loo). Common injuries include shin contusions, bruised ankles, dead legs and plenty of ego bruises. The only benefit of fielding in this position is that you will be on TV replays a lot, although normally this will be footage of you hopping around on one leg trying to get the blood flow back to your other leg.
Tea: During a five-day Test match, this takes place at 3:40 p.m. each day and lasts till about 4:15 p.m. In the good old days, it indeed consisted of cups of tea, cucumber sandwiches and custard cream biscuits served in the dressing room (quite often by the 12th Man). Then the world got all focused on fitness and health, so it now consists of fruit, pasta, sports drinks and other good-for-you stuff. "Twelfthy" still has to do the dishes.
Run out: where the fielding team dismisses a batsman by knocking the bails (small sticks) from the top of a wicket while a batsman is running between it and the other wicket: it's a bit like getting a base runner out in baseball. Rumor has it that England legend Geoff Boycott would often be "run out" on purpose by his own teammates due to his slow play and boring approach. What do you mean, that doesn't make sense? The batsman tries a sneaky single, and is caught short reaching the crease at the other end of the wicket. Come on. That is easy to follow. No?
Part III in a few weeks, but in the meantime follow England's fortunes in India here on Yahoo Sports.
by Matt Goff
Top: Ian Bell of England bats during a tour match between England and Haryana earlier this month in India. The wicket is visible to the right. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Right: Monkeys on the field can add to the excitement of cricket in India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Left: England captain Alastair Cook waits to bat during a nets session earlier this month in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)