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Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games to avoid confusion with the club games like golf and hockey) are field games played by two opposing teams. The teams alternate between "batting" roles, sometimes called "in at bat" and "out in the field", or simply in and out. The fielding team defends, so only the batting team may score, but they have equal chances in both roles. The game is counted rather than timed.
A player on the fielding team puts the ball in play with a delivery whose restriction depends on the game. A player on the batting team attempts to strike the delivered ball, commonly with a "bat", which is a club governed by the rules of the game.
After striking the ball, the batter may become a runner trying to reach a safe haven or "base". While in contact with a base, the runner is safe from the fielding team and in a position to score runs. Leaving a safe haven places the runner in danger of being put out. The teams switch roles when the fielding team puts the batting team out, which varies by game.
In modern baseball the fielders put three players out; in cricket they retire all players but one.
Some games permit multiple runners and some have multiple bases to run in sequence. Batting may occur, and running begin, at one of the bases. The movement between those "safe havens" is governed by the rules of the particular game.
Earliest reference to ball games comes to us from 500 BC, Gautama Buddha's list of games prohibited for monks. "khalika (dice games); ghaṭika (hitting a short stick with a long stick); salākahattha (a game played by dipping the hand in paint or dye, striking the ground or a wall, and requiring the participants to show the figure of an elephant, a horse etc.); akkha (ball games); paṅgacīra (blowing through toy pipes made of leaves); vaṅkaka (ploughing with miniature ploughs); mokkhacika (turning somersaults); ciṅgulika (playing with paper windmills); pattāḷaka (playing with toy measures)"
List of bat-and-ball games
- British Baseball – four posts
- Brännboll – four bases
- Corkball – four bases (no base-running)
- Cricket – two wickets
- Crocker (sport);
- Danish Longball
- Extreme Baseball a.k.a. Double Diamond Baseball
- Indian Ball
- Lapta – two salos (bases)
- The Massachusetts Game – four bases
- Old Cat (One old cat, Two old cat, etc.) – variable
- Over-the-Line – qv
- Pesäpallo – four bases
- Pentagram Baseball - five bases
- Rounders – four bases or posts run anti-clockwise
- Scrub Baseball – four bases (not a team game per se)
- Softball – four bases
- Stickball – variable
- Stool Ball – two stools
- Town ball – variable
- Vigoro – two wickets
- Wiffle Ball
Striking the ball with a "bat" or any type of stick is not crucial. These games use the foot or hand. Otherwise their rules may be similar or even identical to baseball. The first two use a large (35 cm) soft ball.
- Kickball – four bases, sometimes called soccer baseball
- Matball – kickball with gym mats for bases
- Crazy kickball – another kickball variation
- Punchball – four bases, sometimes called volleyball-style baseball or slug