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Cricket Doing Jolly Well as Players Stick to Wickets

March 31, 1985|JOHN NIELSEN | Times Staff Writer

Several cricket teams were practicing at Woodley Park recently, preparing for a season that opens today.

Inside three large batting cages the batsmen wore large leg and shoulder pads over everything from cricket whites to Los Angeles Lakers T-shirts. A few wore visored helmets and gloves, and one wore a Chicago Cubs cap. All carried 38-inch-long willow bats weighing two to three pounds each.

Twenty-two yards away, the bowlers took turns hurling a leather ball toward the wicket behind the batsmen, taking several running steps before letting loose. Most of the balls bounced a few feet in front of the batsmen, heading for the wicket with different kinds of spin.

"That was a googlie," an observer explained after a bowler threw a tricky spinning pitch that apparently surprised a batsman. "It's different from a legbreak, which bounces in front of a right-handed batsman."

It was further explained that a legbreak is different from an open-ended "fast-bowl" or an outside-bouncing "off-curve."

Later, there were more attempts to explain the rules of the game. A batsman guards his wicket until he hits the ball or until the ball hits the wicket. If the ball hits the wicket the batsman is out.

If the batsman hits the ball he may run, although he doesn't have to. If he wants to run, he must reach the second wicket before the ball hits it, or the wicketkeeper hits it while holding the ball or the ball leaves the field.

If the ball is caught, it's an out, and sometimes it's an out if the ball hits the batsman. A team is out after 10 batsmen are out, although each team bats twice.

A home run counts for six points. A bouncer off the field counts for four. Typical scores run into the hundreds, despite a mandatory break.

"We break in the afternoon," Wong said. "Tea time is in the rules."

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