Comparison of baseball and cricket
Despite their similarities, the two sports also have many differences in play and in strategy. A comparison between baseball and cricket can be instructive to followers of either sport, since the similarities help to highlight nuances particular to each game.
- 1 Bat-and-ball games
- 2 Field
- 3 Play
- 4 Strategy
- 5 Equipment
- 6 Statistics
- 7 Culture
- 8 Sportsmanship
- 9 Comparison table
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Bat-and-ball games, in general, are sports in which one team (the fielding team) has possession of the ball and delivers it to a member of the other team (the batting team), who tries to hit it. The two opposing teams take turns playing these two distinct roles, which are continuous during a specified interval. This contrasts with "goal-oriented" games, such as all forms of football, hockey and basketball, in which possession of the ball or puck can change in an instant, and thus "attackers" and the "defenders" frequently reverse roles during the course of the game.
In both cricket and baseball, the players of one team attempt to score points known as runs by hitting a ball with a bat, while the members of the other team field the ball in an attempt to prevent scoring and to put batting players out.
Once a certain number of batting players are out (different in the two sports), the teams swap roles. This sequence of each team taking each role once is called an inning (plural innings) in baseball, and an innings (both singular and plural) in cricket. The single/plural usage in cricket is comparable to the baseball slang term for a single inning as the team's "ups". A baseball game consists of nine innings per team, while a cricket match may have either one or two innings per team.
Other present-day bat-and-ball games include softball, stickball, rounders, stoolball, pesäpallo or Finnish baseball, punchball, kickball, and British baseball, which has similarities with both cricket and baseball. Earlier forms include The Massachusetts Game of baseball, which was similar to rounders, and one old cat and two old cat.
Baseball is played in a quadrant of fair territory between foul lines. The official minimum distance from home plate to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction is 250 feet (76.2 m), and the recommended distances are at least 325 feet (99 m) along the foul lines and 400 feet (120 m) in centre field. This produces a recommended fair territory field area just over 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2). Most Major League Baseball parks have fair territory areas in the range of 110,000 to 120,000 square feet (10,000 to 11,000 m2).
In contrast, Test and One Day International cricket is played on a field with a minimum width of 420 feet (128.0 m) and length 426 feet (129.8 m), giving a minimum area of 140,500 square feet (13,050 m2), assuming an elliptical shape. However the shape of a cricket ground is not fixed. Test grounds around the world are typically 450 by 500 feet (140 by 150 m), an area of about 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2), ranging up to 479 by 561 feet (146 by 171 m) or 270,000 square feet (25,000 m2) at Melbourne.
Discounting the pitchers/bowlers and catchers/wicket-keepers, this means Major League Baseball fielders must cover an average of about 16,500 square feet (1,530 m2) per fielder, while Test cricketers cover 19,500 square feet (1,810 m2) per fielder. That average is misleading because of the large difference between areas covered by outfielders and by infielders. In baseball, infielders cover a small area in which the ball moves very fast, while three outfielders cover a much greater proportion of the playing surface. This is often true— if not quite as pronounced— in cricket, although field placings in cricket can vary enormously. Fielders in both sports cover variable amounts of territory, with outfielders usually having to run much further to field a ball than infielders do.
Another consequence is that the maximum distance from the batsman in cricket to the boundary is smaller than that from the batter in baseball to the outfield wall. Since the pitch in cricket lies at the centre of the field, a ball can often be driven beyond the furthest boundary by a blow that travels around 275 feet (84 m). By contrast, a home run to 'deep centre' in baseball must travel more than 400 feet (122 m). This means that outfielders in baseball must frequently cover considerably greater distances than those fielding a ball in cricket. When hit squarely in baseball the ball leaves the bat at a higher velocity, and travels further, than in cricket.
A batsman in cricket has a greater variety of strokes he can play, due to the lack of fouls and strikes; this combined with the shape of the field means he can play shots to score runs in any direction, including directly behind him.
In cricket, the distance between the two wickets that the batsmen defend is 22 yards (20.1 m). The pitch is the 10-foot (3 metres) wide rectangular area between the wickets. In baseball, the pitcher must deliver from a rubber slab (officially called the "pitcher's plate" and typically called "the mound") whose front is 60.6 feet (18.5 m) from the point of home plate (officially called "home plate" and often simply "home"). Before the advent of the pitcher's mound and the rubber, the pitcher threw from within a rectangular "pitcher's box". There was a large rectangular dirt area, between the pitcher's box and the batting areas around home, which resembled the cricket pitch.
In cricket, the striker's end stumps and the bowling crease are 66 feet (20.1 m) apart. The popping creases are 4 feet (1.22 m) in front of the stumps and thus are 58 feet (17.7 m) apart. The bowler's release point could be perhaps 1 foot (0.3 m) beyond his popping crease (both positions change every over). The batsman tends to "take guard" or "block" on the popping crease, i.e. he stands 4 feet (1.22 m) in front of his stumps. That nets to a typical distance of about 57 feet (17.4 m) between delivery point and bat. In baseball, the pitcher's release point could be about 55 feet (16.8 m) depending on his delivery style, but the batter also tends to stand back or "deep" in the batter's box, to maximise his time to "look the ball over", up to 2 feet (0.61 m) further from the pitching rubber than the point of home plate is. Thus the horizontal distance, from release of the ball by the pitcher/bowler to its arrival at the batter/batsman, is similar in both sports. However, the ball usually travels further in cricket as it normally bounces off the ground first, adding a significant vertical component to the total distance travelled.
The main difference in fielding in the two sports is that even though a cricket ball is harder and heavier than a baseball, the fielders in cricket are more restricted in the use of protection for the hands. The only fielders who can wear protective gear are the wicket-keeper, who is allowed to wear padded gloves as well as leg guards and a box; and fielders in close-in positions such as silly point and short leg, who may wear shinpads, boxes and helmets but are not allowed gloves. In baseball, catchers and first basemen normally wear mitts, which have no fingers and are specially designed for each respective position. The other fielders wear gloves with fingers. (Early baseball was also played bare-handed; gloves were adopted in the later 19th century.) This means that the risk of hand injury due to the impact of the ball is far higher in cricket. Also, especially in Test cricket, it is common for several fielders to be stationed close to the bat (slips, short leg, silly point and similar positions) since the likelihood and value of dismissing a batsman by a catch in a close fielding position is higher. Catching at these positions require exceptional reflexes, skill and courage, associated with bare-handed catching of a hard ball travelling at up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), with reaction times of the order of 0.2 seconds.
Baseball games have far lower scores than cricket matches. The largest combined runs total in a single game in the history of Major League Baseball is 49, whereas first-class cricket matches, including Tests, have produced combined totals from all four innings of over 1000 runs.
For a more direct comparison, matches in Twenty20 cricket, a form of limited overs cricket in which games last about the same time as a regulation baseball game, frequently produce combined run totals of 300 or more, with the all-time record being 469. Each run in a baseball game is roughly 75 times as important as a run in a Test cricket match (or 10–20 times the value of a cricketer scoring 4 or 6 runs off a single ball); therefore moments of poor pitching and individual fielding mistakes are much more costly. A baseball player who is a good batter, but who is not a competent fielder, will not play regularly, or only in the designated hitter position in leagues that use it.
Baseball players often need to throw immediately after catching the struck ball (for example, the double play), while this is unnecessary in cricket as the ball is deemed "dead" when a dismissal takes place. Hence, fielders in cricket have a greater incentive to dive and take a catch due to the fact that a run out is generally much harder to achieve in comparison to baseballers throwing runners out.
The configuration of the baseball diamond effectively bars left-handers from the fielding positions that make throwing to first base a primary responsibility. Right-handers can throw to their left – i.e. toward first base – with much greater ease than can left-handers. So in practical terms, all second basemen, shortstops, and third basemen are right-handed. Left-handed catchers are also exceedingly rare; while the reasons appear to be primarily cultural, handling bunts up the third-base line and throws on plays at home pose particular obstacles to left-handed catchers.
While most throws a first baseman must make go to the right, which a left-hander can generally accomplish with greater speed and fluency, this is a relatively small factor to the advantage of a left-handed first baseman. More important advantages are related to the position of a left-handed first baseman with respect to the base. First, a left-handed first baseman has an advantage over his right-handed counterpart when catching a pickoff throw from the pitcher—when a first baseman is in pickoff position, standing in front of the bag, the left-hander can catch the ball and make a tag without having to move his arm across his body. (See the picture in the Strategy over the course of the game section below for the standard pickoff position with a right-handed first baseman.) Second, because the first baseman starts most plays with his left leg closer to the base, the left-hander does not have to make a half-pivot to get into the correct position to stretch out for a throw. For these reasons, left-handed throwers are far more common at first base than in the general population of baseball players. In contrast, cricket is fielded in the round: the handedness of the fielder in any given position is of far less consequence due to the priority being placed on catching rather than throwing, coupled with the fact that the batsmen are running in opposite directions, and both left-handed and right-handed throwers are found in all parts of the field.
Body contact between runner and fielder is frequent in baseball, particularly at home plate. This is driven to a large extent by the manner in which a runner is put out. In both sports, rules prohibit interfering with runners. However, in baseball, the runner himself (or the base he is advancing to, if forced) must be tagged by a fielder holding the ball, to be put out. The catcher awaiting a throw will often stand between the plate and the runner. Once he catches it, the runner might try to go around the catcher, or he might simply bowl the catcher over, if he thinks he can dislodge the ball by such contact; and if the catcher does not have the ball, the runner may still bowl the catcher over, which is considered fair because by rule a fielder without a ball cannot impede a runner. By contrast, in cricket, the stumps are the target for "tagging" rather than the runner. No contact with the runners is either necessary or allowed. Contact between opposing sides is rare, and is usually not deliberate. Violent contact between players was once even greater in baseball, as before the Knickerbocker Rules it was permitted in some versions of the game to literally "throw out" a runner by hitting him (or "soaking" him) with a thrown ball (in lieu of hitting a base or stake that would equate to cricket's wickets). This rule still exists in some versions of the baseball variant called kickball, which is played with a soccer ball and thus is much less injurious. Except when played batting in a hands-down position, kickball also calls for literal "bowling" of the ball, underhand, as with the old rules of both cricket and baseball. "All 'round hands down" kickball leagues exist, but in most of these, the ball is pitched with the face or shoulders.
One of the main differences between baseball and Test cricket is the primary intent of the batsman. Usually, in Test cricket, wickets come at a far higher premium, since survival is of primary importance. While nine innings per side are played in a baseball game within a few hours, only two per side are played in Test cricket over five days (thirty hours), so the cost of a dismissal is far higher in cricket. It should be kept in mind that a batsman in cricket is not obligated to take a run after striking the ball, nor is there any penalty for swinging at the ball and missing unless it hits the stumps (i.e. the wicket) (or, as often happens, makes a glancing contact with the bat and is caught) and there is no limit to the number of deliveries a batsman can face; a batsman with the required concentration, determination and technical ability often bats for several hours (occasionally days) without being dismissed. By contrast, in baseball a batter takes a serious penalty (a "strike") if he swings and misses: three strikes result in an out, and if the batter hits he must run. This contrast means that in cricket, unlike baseball, the quality of a batsman's defensive game and footwork (unlike baseball batters, cricket batsmen are not required to keep their back foot grounded when hitting the ball) are of the utmost importance. The nuances of batting technique are also greater in cricket, since the interplays between bowling variations, field placements and scoring strengths are more dynamic. Since cricket is played over an extended duration, the bowler and the fielding captain have time to "work over" a batsman (e.g. trying several different bowlers). Thus, cricket batting requires a very tight technique and the ability to withstand sustained examinations.
The area for legal deliveries is much larger in cricket than it is in baseball, overlapping the batsman's entire body. Deliveries that reach the batsmen at rib or shoulder height are legal, and quite common. Depending on the form of the game, more or fewer deliveries can be bowled to reach the batsmen at throat or head level. Any fear or hesitation can lead to a batsman playing a poor shot which may result in him giving away his wicket (being dismissed).
Since the cricket bat is wide and flat, while the baseball bat is narrow and round, on the whole cricket batsmen find it easier to hit and direct the ball than baseball batters, resulting in many more runs being scored in a cricket match. While bowlers can influence the ability of the batsmen to do so, perhaps the most famous episode being the Bodyline tactic, cricket batsmen can use a wider variety of batting strokes to direct the ball in many directions into a field which provides much more open space than in baseball. Keeping in mind, cricket batsmen are under no obligation to attempt to score a run after any stroke, but must strike balls to prevent them from hitting the wicket. Many strokes are in fact defensive in nature against a well-bowled ball and the quality of defensive batting is often the determining factor of a batsman's success over his career, especially in the longer forms of the game.
By contrast, the balance of power is largely reversed in baseball. While particularly skilled batters have some ability to place hit and direct the ball to desired locations, the pitcher's influence is much more dramatic. Pitchers induce more ground outs, fly outs, or strikeouts, depending on the style of pitch. Thus particular pitchers are known for causing batters to make certain kinds of outs, depending on their mastered pitches. Also in contrast to cricket, baseball batters must attempt to take first base on any ball put into fair territory, and failing to do so will result in an out, but the size of the strike zone more strictly limits the set of deliveries that must be swung at compared to cricket. Like cricket, baseball batters do have a defensive tactic available; many batters will often attempt to deliberately foul off pitches that are strikes yet difficult to hit well, by hitting them into foul territory, awaiting an easier delivery later in the at-bat. Since an uncaught foul ball cannot be a third strike (unless it was a bunt attempt), this tactic allows the batter to receive more pitches.
In the early generations of baseball, the emphasis was mostly on bat control, place hitting, bunting, etc. But, starting in 1919, several factors resulted in a dramatic expansion of strategic orientation, supplementing traditional "small ball" with the "power game": a "livelier" ball, because of better materials and a tighter weave; more frequent substitutions of new balls; lighter, more flexible bats; the outlawing of the spitball; and the increase in attendance which drove owners to build more outfield seating, thus reducing the outfield area significantly. The power game has been encouraged further in recent years, by the construction of new ballparks with smaller outfields than previously, and even the reduction of field size at "classic" ballparks known for spacious outfields; for example, the distance to the fence in deep left field at the original Yankee Stadium was reduced from 430 to 399 feet (131 to 122 m) between 1984 and 1988 (the post-1988 dimensions were maintained at the current Yankee Stadium). Still, it is generally agreed that no one can hit a home run at will, and every successful batter knows never to go to the plate intending to hit a home run. Rather, he should attempt a level swing, try to pull only the ball on the inside of the plate, go the other way with balls low and outside, and otherwise start each at bat intending to drive the ball up the middle, which is the most vulnerable part of the infield (especially if the pitcher is not particularly good at fielding his position).
The games emphasise power hitting to different degrees. Cricket requires the accumulation of large numbers of runs; and placement of the ball between the fielders produces runs efficiently and is generally accepted as a better strategy than "swinging for sixes". In baseball, power hitting can produce runs quickly and frequently in many situations, as well as force pitching changes and other fielding moves; but it can also result (because of the great difficulty of driving a ball off a cylindrical bat) in a great many strike outs, fly outs, and ground outs. In cricket situations can arise in a match where power hitting, also called "slogging", is required. This typically occurs towards the final overs of a limited overs game and can also be an option to get runs for batsmen even earlier in the innings. It is still quite risky.
Cricket bowlers, since they are not restricted to a small strike zone as their target, also use a wide variety of approaches which are not available to baseball pitchers. These involve varying the line and length of deliveries and using unpredictable movement caused by the ball bouncing on the pitch before it reaches the batsman. Baseball pitchers, by contrast, must use changes in ball speed and movement (cricket bowlers also vary ball speed) caused only by air friction and spin to deceive batters, as most pitches which come near touching the ground are ineffectively[clarification needed] allowed to pass as balls. The raised undulating stitching on a baseball allows an accomplished pitcher to create a huge variety of motions in the air; even fastballs are thrown in such a way as to create certain kinds of movement. The cricket ball also moves in the air, to a lesser degree than the baseball, but it achieves its most pronounced movement on the bounce, with seamers landing to ball on the seam to create slight but unpredictable turn, and spinners using spin to create significant turn and bounce variation. Furthermore, pitchers must begin their throw from a stationary position, while bowlers may run up to their delivery. (In the early days of baseball, the pitcher pitched from anywhere within a "box" and so had more flexibility as to where to stand when releasing the ball, before the 1880s.) Baseball pitchers also throw from an elevated mound (10 in or 25 cm above the level of home plate), while cricket bowlers are at the same height as the batsman and must bowl with an overarm (or roundarm, a style rarely seen today) rotation of the arm during which the arm must not straighten by more than 15 degrees. (This was also a restriction on pitchers in the early days of baseball, abolished in the 1880s; today, baseball pitchers use a variety of delivery motions discussed below.) Despite the differences in delivery action, the delivery speeds are similar for both sports with the fastest bowlers and pitchers propelling the ball in the region of 95–100 mph (150–160 km/h): the fastest recorded cricket delivery is 100.2 mph (161.26 km/h) with baseball's record quicker at 105 mph (169.0 km/h). It is the case, however, that baseball pitches near or at 100 mph are considerably more common than bowled balls of comparable velocity in cricket. The bowler in cricket is much more restricted with respect to how much he can straighten his arm in delivering the ball, and this is one very significant reason why baseball pitchers can deliver the ball faster with more frequency.
One main difference, however, is that the ball in cricket is harder and heavier in weight. The legal weight for the ball in baseball is from 5 to 5.25 ounces (142 to 149 g); whereas the ball in cricket must weigh between 5.5 and 5.8 ounces (156 and 164 g).
Another main reason for the difference in pace is that in baseball the ball reaches the batter on the full, whereas in cricket the ball is usually bounced off the pitch before reaching the batsman- which does take pace off the ball, especially on drier dustier pitches. A delivery in cricket that reaches the batsman without bouncing, known as a full toss, is legal so long as it is below waist high. However, this is usually considered a poor delivery as it is often quite easy to score runs from.
Cricket's bowlers are grouped into different categories based on their bowling style—pacemen, seamers, off-spinners (or finger-spinners), leg-spinners (or wrist-spinners)—though a bowler may fall into more than one category (pace and seam bowling, for instance, largely overlap). The faster bowlers usually open the bowling, when the ball is at its hardest. Spin bowlers generally bowl later, when the ball has begun to deteriorate and become rough.
Baseball's pitchers are classified primarily by their throwing hand (left or right, with left-handed pitchers often called "southpaws") and their usual role in games. A starting pitcher begins games, typically not more than one game in five, in a rotation with four teammates who are also starters who will start games in a sequential cycle, and usually pitch five or more innings. Starters rarely appear as substitutes in games started by others. A relief pitcher enters games later, sometimes on short notice in crisis situations in which there are already runners on base and/or the opponent's best hitters due to bat, and usually pitches fewer innings in any given game. But relievers may be called upon to pitch in several games consecutively. Some relievers even specialise further strictly as closers brought in just to pitch the last inning of a game in which his team leads by a narrow margin. Perhaps the most specialised group of relievers is left-handed specialists—left-handed pitchers who pitch almost exclusively to left-handed batters (sometimes to switch-hitters who are weaker batters right-handed). More often than not, such a pitcher will face only one batter in a given game.
Pitchers are sometimes secondarily grouped according to pitching style, type of pitch most often used, or velocity. This is especially common when pitching technique is rare or unusual. For example, there are many different variations on how the pitch is delivered, including the conventional overhand in which the ball is thrown from the 12 o'clock position, 3/4 styles (with the arm moving towards the plate between 12 and 3 o'clock), as well as the less common sidearm (3 o'clock arm angle, compare roundarm bowling in cricket) and 'submarine' (below 3 o'clock, compare underarm bowling in cricket) deliveries. The submarine pitch is rare, and a pitcher who throws in this way usually has a 'submariner' attached to his name or description. Similarly, there are many kinds of pitches thrown, including the fastball, curve ball, slider, and knuckleball. Capable knuckleballers are extremely rare and are usually described by this skill first.
For reasons that continue to spur debate, it is historically the case that most right-handed pitchers succeed at higher rates against right-handed hitters than against left-handers, and that most left-handed pitchers succeed at higher rates against left-handed hitters than right-handers.
One substantial strategic element to baseball is to use this phenomenon as much as possible. Defenses try to force a match between pitcher and hitter by side, and offences attempt to mismatch them; both teams use substitutions at times to accomplish the desired outcome. One response to this phenomenon is that many hitters, among them a number of the finest and most powerful to play the game, such as Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones, became adept as youngsters to hitting both left-handed and right-handed to prevent defences from using that advantage against them. Many professional clubs employ as many as two or three switch hitters so as to neutralise the advantage of side selection. However, only one switch pitcher has played in the major leagues in modern times.
In addition, if a baseball batter is struck with a pitch, he is awarded first base; "hitting" the batter includes hitting loose parts of his uniform without hitting his body (baseball rules specify that a player's person includes his uniform and equipment except for his bat). Pitchers may throw close to the batters, and a "brushback" is often used as an intimidation tactic. Deliberately hitting a batter is fairly uncommon, however, chiefly because it is punished severely. If the umpire believes a batter was intentionally hit, the umpire has his discretion on a first offence to warn both benches that the pitcher for either team will be expelled from the game if there are any further hit batsmen (the one baseball term in which "batsman" is used). The warning—and the power to expel if it is contravened—is intended not only to protect batters but to avert fighting; being hit by a fastball is taken seriously by batters, and bench-clearing brawls occasionally result when one team decides the other is deliberately throwing at its batters. Amazingly, in the history of the major league game, only one player has ever been killed by a pitched ball striking him in the head (Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians in 1920). This occurred before the invention of the batting helmet and was the principal cause for introducing this piece of equipment into the game as well as replacing dirty balls and outlawing the spitball.
In cricket, bowlers consider the right to hit a batsman as part of their armoury; indeed, one of the most common methods of dismissal (leg before wicket) requires the bowler to hit the batsman's body rather than his bat. A fast bowler will punctuate his overs with deliveries intended to bounce up toward the batsman's head, either to induce a poor shot from self-defence which may result in the batsman being caught out, or to intimidate the batsman, making him less likely to play forward to the next few deliveries for fear of injury. These tactics have long been an accepted part of cricket. In the modern game, batsmen usually wear helmets and heavy padding, so that being struck by the ball only rarely results in significant injury—though it is nevertheless often painful, sometimes causing concussion or fractures (although it can also have fatal consequences: Phillip Hughes died after being struck in the head/neck area by a Sean Abbott bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match in 2014). Baseball batters wear helmets, but they are unsecured and lack the "cage" since only one side of the head/face is exposed. Catchers typically wear a helmet with a cage or protective bars. An equivalent ball to striking the batter in baseball would be a beamer, where the ball hits the batter's upper body area without bouncing first. These are rare and usually caused by the ball slipping out of the top of the bowler's hand. The even rarer intentional beamer provokes strong reaction from batter and crowd alike. The umpire is authorised to take disciplinary action in such instances. The bowler is generally given a first warning, and is dismissed from the game if the offence is repeated. A notable such case was between Waqar Younis and Andrew Symonds: Younis was banned from bowling by umpire David Shepherd for delivering a beamer to Symonds in a match between Pakistan and Australia at the 2003 World Cup; it was the first of only two times it's ever happened during an international match.
There is a major difference in the way in which different bowlers or pitchers contribute to a single game. In baseball, a single pitcher starts the game, and makes every pitch until the manager replaces the tiring pitcher with a relief pitcher. Replaced pitchers cannot return to pitch again in the same game (unless they are shuttled to another position in the field and thus stay in the line-up, a move rarely seen in the major leagues), and a succession of pitchers may come into the game in sequence until it ends. In cricket, two bowlers begin the game, with those not actively bowling spending time as fielders. Every player in the team, including the wicket-keeper but excluding the 12th man, is available to be used as a bowler. Bowlers alternate bowling overs of six balls each. A bowler will usually bowl for a 'spell' of several (alternate) overs, and will generally bowl the entire spell from the same end of the pitch. A second bowler will bowl the overs missed by the first, from the other end of the pitch, for his own spell. After a bowler is taken off, he may be, and often is, asked to bowl another spell later in the same innings. Although moving a pitcher to a fielding position and returning him to pitch later in the game is legal in baseball, it is a rarely used and potentially risky strategy, as the pitcher may be unprepared to play another position.
The terms "bowling" and "pitching", as words, both denote underarm deliveries, as were once required in both games. The rules for delivery were also initially very similar. Once overhand deliveries were permitted in the respective sports, and pitchers were compelled to toe the pitching rubber instead of throwing from anywhere within the "pitcher's box", the actions of bowling and pitching diverged significantly.
The "wide" in cricket and the "ball" in baseball both derive from the concept of a "fair" delivery, i.e. a delivery that the batter or batsman has a fair chance of making contact with his bat. While there is no sharply defined "strike zone" in cricket as there is in baseball (but there are lines perpendicular to the crease lines which the umpires can use as a guide), in both cases the umpire must judge whether the ball was delivered fairly. Both the "wide" and the "ball" result in a "penalty". In cricket, like a no-ball a single run is scored and it does not count as a legal delivery. In baseball, a ball is called, and if a pitcher gives up four balls the batter is awarded first base, which is called a "base on balls" or a "walk". A walk will only score a run directly if the bases are already loaded, forcing the runner at third base to advance to home (known as "walking in a run"); otherwise the threat is merely of another runner reaching base instead of making an out. However, since runs are scored so much more frequently in cricket, the occasional wide, scoring a run directly, is not taken too seriously, although the extra delivery can be of vital significance toward the end of a match. In both games, a wide or a ball can be the decisive factor in winning a match or a game.
Running plays a much larger role in baseball because of the low scoring; also, players on the batting team must run much further to score a run, because runners may remain in play (that is, on the bases) without scoring, and because baserunners can advance to the next base before the ball is hit again (steal the base) as soon as the ball is live. Base stealing often requires sliding, in which the runner throws himself to the ground to avoid being tagged or over-running the base. The runner may also deliberately slide into the fielder at the base he is trying to steal to keep him from catching the ball or to disrupt a double play. At home plate the runner often will simply, and legally, run into a catcher who is blocking the baseline but who does not have the ball (a defensive player may not impede the runner unless he has the ball or is in the process of catching it).
The equivalent in cricket is almost impossible because the bowler is next to the runner, and in fact used to be able to mankad him if he strayed out of his crease; nowadays the batsman can leave the crease when the bowler's back foot touches the ground during his delivery action without risk of being 'mankaded'. Tactical running in cricket rarely strays beyond the consideration of "can I make it to the other end before the ball does". One exception of this is towards the end of a closely fought limited overs game, where a batsman (normally a tail-ender) would sacrifice his wicket to allow the better batsman to remain on strike, usually in the last few balls. While in baseball, steals, sacrificial running, forces, double plays, intimidation, and physical contact enter into the equation.
Making contact with a fielder, as baserunners often do, would be unsportsmanlike in cricket, and unnecessary, as play stops when a single wicket is taken. Occasionally a cricket runner will dive over the crease, but in baseball this is a regular occurrence, as players are frequently forced to run even when their chances are slim.
Since a team almost always scores fewer runs in a baseball game than its number of outs, a baserunner will frequently take risks attempting to advance an extra base or to score a run, resulting in close plays at a base. In cricket, since the number of runs scored is much greater than the number of wickets taken in a match, a batsman would be very foolish to risk getting run out in an attempt to score an extra run without a very high expected chance of success. In general, cricket batsmen are run out due to exceptional fielding, poor judgment/communication, or a combination of said factors. In baseball, runners are often out not of their own accord – they are simply forced out.
A direct comparison is difficult since cricket is predominantly played in three different formats: Test (and other first-class matches), One Day (40–50 over games) and Twenty20. Of these, the Twenty20 format takes much the same time as a baseball game: around three to three-and-a-half hours. Baseball games are generally much shorter than Test and One Day cricket games. Most Major League Baseball games last between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half hours. Because the Major League playing season is 6 months long (183 days, between April and October with Spring training in February and March), with 81 games played at home and 81 away (162 in all, not counting the postseason or the All-Star Game), baseball teams often find themselves playing double-headers and series games. A doubleheader entails two games, played back to back, in one day. This usually occurs when a game needed to be rescheduled, and is a common occurrence at the beginning of the Major League season, which coincides with the rainy Spring season. Although they were once common, double-headers are rarely scheduled any more by teams, but are part of the culture of baseball, with Ernie Banks' "Let's play two" a famous refrain. A series occurs when two teams play on several consecutive days. This is a part of the regular schedule in baseball because of the number of games required in a season, and because there are large distances between stadiums in the US and Canada, thus conserving time and resources by allowing the teams to spend several days in a single location. In Major League Baseball there is a maximum of 20 days consecutively played before a break in games must be observed.
Test Cricket games can last up to five days, with scheduled breaks each day for lunch and tea, giving three sessions of play each day. Full length games, for example between English counties or between Australian states, have a similar format to Test matches, but either three or four days are allowed. The limited overs versions of the sport usually last from five to seven hours, but can sometimes continue for longer than eight hours. Twenty20 has innings of twenty overs per team.
One Day Internationals and Twenty20 cricket, with their inherent limit on the number of fair deliveries, do not have an exact equivalent in baseball. The closest comparison would be games that have a pre-set number of innings shorter than the standard 9 (as with the second game of a doubleheader at some levels) or a pre-set time limit of some kind, such as a curfew restriction, or in the case of one of baseball's cousins, recreational softball, a pre-set length of the game, such as one hour.
A wide array of factors affect both games (from composition of the pitch or field soil to weather conditions, wind, and moisture) and numerous strategies in both games can be employed to exploit these factors. Other than the bowler, cricket places very few restrictions on fielding placement, even for the wicket-keeper, and its variety of bowling styles, 360 degrees of open field, wide bowling area (target zone), and so on give scope for strategic play. Notable exceptions include the limit of two fielders in the leg side quadrant, introduced to prevent the use of Bodyline tactics, and limiting outfield players in the early stages of one-day cricket matches and the subsequent introduction of powerplays. In baseball, there are very specific rules about the positions of the pitcher and the catcher at the start of each play. The positioning of the other seven fielders is as flexible as cricket, except that each one must start the play positioned in fair territory. The fielders are otherwise free to position themselves anywhere on the playing field, based on the game situation.
Condition of the ball
A major element of strategy in these sports is the condition of the ball. Since bowling in cricket has more variations (such as bounce, swing, seam movement, off-spin, leg-spinand so on), the condition of the ball also affects play to a great degree. In Test cricket, the same ball must be used for at least 80 overs unless it is lost, damaged or illegally modified at which point it must be replaced with a ball in a similar condition. After the 80 overs, obtaining a new ball is at the discretion of the fielding captain – who will often ask for a new ball immediately, since a new ball is harder, bounces higher and has an intact seam, which produces greater conventional swing. But when a captain feels that a spin bowling attack is more likely to be successful, he will persist with the old ball, which is rougher and better grips the surface as well the bowler's fingers. In baseball the ball is replaced numerous times during a game to ensure it is in optimum condition.
The aerodynamics of swing in cricket are different from baseball. Moreover, the raised seam also causes movement off the pitch in cricket, which is a very important part of medium pace bowling. Once a particular hemisphere of the cricket ball is more rough or scratched than the other, the fielding team meticulously works to preserve the shine on the other half by rubbing it on their clothes or by applying saliva (no "external" substances can be applied to alter the condition of the ball). Bowlers very carefully regulate their wrist position at the point of release to ensure the shine is preserved only on one half of the ball, since it will swing towards the rough side.
The old ball in cricket also tends to generate greater amounts of reverse swing, which is swing towards the polished side. This can be exploited by genuinely fast bowlers (usually, those who can bowl over 90 mph or 140 km/h). Especially on pitches in the Indian sub-continent, which tend to have abrasive surfaces, bowlers might resort to bowling across the seam as early as the tenth over, so as to quickly scruff up the ball and generate reverse swing early on. Strategies that rely on early reverse swing also need the backup of effective spin bowlers to be able to exploit the roughed up ball.
Due to these factors, a batsman in cricket needs to watch very carefully how the bowler grips the ball even during his run-up, as well as the type of revolutions on the ball[clarification needed] as it approaches. Master spin bowlers like Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, who were able to dramatically vary the trajectory, direction and extent of spin, frequently bowled deliveries with a scrambled seam to disguise the type of ball actually bowled.
Batting first or last
In cricket, since the strategies are greatly influenced by factors such as soil characteristics of the pitch, condition of the ball, time of the day, weather and atmospheric conditions, the decision to bat first or last is of great tactical importance.
The team that wins the coin toss has the choice of batting first or last. This choice can be crucial to success; particularly in Test cricket. As the pitch is used for up to five consecutive days with little maintenance, the deterioration of the pitch with wear can have a major influence on the result of the match (e.g. typically the ability of spin bowlers to "turn" the ball increases toward the end of a Test match, whereas fast bowlers often prefer a harder and bouncier pitch often found at the start of a match). It is usual for some amount of grass to be left on the pitch on the first day of a Test, since it helps bind the surface. The presence of grass on the pitch is conducive for pace bowling, so a grassy pitch may also tempt a captain to field first. Sometimes, weather conditions also influence the decision, since a cloud cover has been found to assist swing bowling. Aggressive captains such as Allan Border of Australia have been known to bat first in Test cricket regardless of the conditions.
In One Day International cricket, the time of day is also a crucial factor in determining the captain's decision at the toss. In some parts of the world, dew on the ground can be significant. In a day-night game, grounds in some countries like India or South Africa become wet due to dew, which makes it difficult for a spinner to grip the ball. The captain must balance this against a consideration for bowling becoming more effective under lights, since the ball might skid off any dew on the pitch or get assistance in swing from the cooler night-time air. Even for a day game, the captain might be inclined to exploit early morning dew on the pitch.
In baseball, on the other hand, the "home" team always bats last. This was not originally the case. In the early years, the winner of a coin toss could decide whether to bat first or last. The more offence-oriented aspect of the early game might influence a team's decision to bat first and hope to get a quick lead. This led to the occasional unfortunate situation where the home town crowd would have to watch their team lose a game in the last of the ninth inning, in "sudden victory" fashion by the visiting team. By the late 1800s, the rule was changed to compel the home team to bat last. At a "neutral" site, such as the College World Series, the "home" team may be decided by coin toss, but that "home" team must bat last.
In cricket, since the batsmen can hit the ball with greater variation and different objectives, the field placements are more important and varied. Modern-day coaches and captains have intricate knowledge of the strengths of opposition batsmen, so they try to plug the dominant scoring areas for each batsman. Moreover, since the bowling attack has greater variety in cricket, the field placements required for each type and line of attack also vary greatly.
Depending on the scoring strengths of the batsman (off-side, leg-side, straight, square, front foot, back foot, power hitter, "finds the gap", "clears the field" and so on), the captain must make adjustments to the field each time the batting pair score a run and change ends, which can possibly happen after every ball in an over. To meet the demands of a speedy over-rate (typically, about 15 overs an hour), the captain must arrange the fielders in a way that they can swiftly interchange positions for the two batsmen. This is especially important if one batsman is right-handed, while the other is left-handed. And also in limited overs cricket if the umpires deem the over rate of the team fielding first is too slow they can dock them overs so they may have less than 20/50 overs to reach their target score when it is their turn to bat.
Fielders in cricket can field in all positions, but modern players have specialised field positions. In particular, slip positions require special skills since the slip fielder is placed behind the batsman and the ball comes directly off the edge of the bat. Close catching positions such as forward short leg and silly point, as well as positions for the cut shot such as gully and point, require very fast reflexes and canny anticipation, so they are also specialist positions.
In baseball, although only the positions of pitcher and catcher are prescribed by the rules, fielders' positions are dictated closely by custom, and shifts in fielders' positions according to circumstance are less dramatic; the strike zone and smaller angle of fair territory limit the usefulness of some strategies which cricket makes available to batsmen. The chief occasion on which fielding placement differs markedly from the usual is the presence of a pull, or dead-pull, hitter at bat (such hitters almost never, except on the rare occasion of a fluke or mishit, hit the ball in any direction except towards the same side of the field as they stand at the plate, i.e. a right-handed pull hitter hits everything toward left field). In such case the fielders will move so far in the direction of the pull that one half of the field is almost completely unprotected. This is called an overshift. A six-man infield has also been used when circumstances warrant. For the great majority of batters, however, the traditional fielding arrangement is used, with minor changes in position to accommodate the batter's power or bat-handling ability, the location of runners, or the number of outs. (For example, with a base runner on third with less than two out, the importance of fielders being able to throw quickly to home plate on a bunt is increased, and the infielders will play closer to home plate.) However, baseball has no equivalent of cricket's close-in fielders, because it is impractical to have fielders so close to the bat as they would have virtually no chance of latching onto a ball travelling so fast. It is possible to place a close-in fielder to catch a bunt, but this practice is almost never followed except in specialised circumstances such as a pitcher being forced to bat late in a game, with less than two outs and the opportunity to drive in a run. The team's best chance to score in such a situation may be to sacrifice bunt and may warrant the first or third baseman playing halfway up the line to cut off the run at home.
In cricket, coaches cannot intervene or direct gameplay; the captain must make all the calls once the players are out on the field. However, the coach may convey messages to the captain or the players at any time, since there is no restriction on signalling or speaking to players on the field. In dynamic situations, like a run chase with an imminent possibility of rain, it is quite common for coaches to update tactics using signals. Hansie Cronje, the former cricket captain of South Africa, once took the field with a wireless link to the coach, Bob Woolmer. Subsequently, the use of gadgets to transmit messages was banned by the International Cricket Council. Regardless, the coach is merely an adviser; it is almost always the case that the cricket captain has complete authority over the team once play starts. In baseball, by contrast, managers and coaches will often direct the players (through hand signals) to carry out a play (such as a stolen base or hit and run), or to field at a particular depth. In fact, "stealing signs" can play an important part in baseball strategy when a player on an opposing team tries to interpret hand signals between pitcher and catcher or between runner and base coach, and possibly then relay this information to another player without being themselves detected.
Strategy over the course of the game
In both sports, strategy varies with the game situation. In baseball, pitcher, batter and fielders all play far differently in the late innings of a close game (e.g., waiting for walks, trying for stolen bases or the squeeze play to score a decisive run) than they do early, or when one team has already scored many more runs than the other (where batters will be likely to swing at many more pitches and try for extra-base hits and even home runs). The number, speed, and position of baserunners, which have no equivalent in cricket, all dramatically change the strategies used by pitcher and batter. A runner on first base must decide how large a lead to take off the base—the larger the lead, the greater the chance of advancing on a stolen base or batted ball, but also the greater the risk of being picked off by the pitcher. In leagues which do not allow designated hitters, strategic thinking also enters into substitutions. For example, in the double switch, the substitution of a relief pitcher is combined with the substitution of a pinch hitter who takes the pitcher's spot in the batting order so that the new pitcher will come to bat later (as almost all pitchers are poor hitters much like most specialist bowlers are poor batsmen). Since players may not return to the game after being substituted for, a manager cannot take lightly the decision when and if to substitute a better-fielding but worse-hitting player if his team is ahead.
Another difference between baseball and cricket strategy is the importance of sacrifice plays in baseball. These are plays in which a batter deliberately hits in a particular way or in a particular direction to advance runner at the expense of himself getting out. For example, a poor batter may deliberately bunt (hit a low slow ball) a ball towards first base so that he will be easily put out, to ensure that a runner on second base will end up safe on third. A stronger batter may deliberately hit a long "sacrifice fly" that he knows will be caught (resulting in an out) so that a runner can make it home to score a run. This strategy results from the relative cheapness of individual outs in baseball and the relative importance of individual runs in that sport compared to cricket, where such a strategy would be foolish as runs cannot be scored when a wicket has fallen except in the case of a run-out (although if a batsman is caught and if he and the non-striker attempt a run and cross each other the new batsman must assume the non-striker's position).
The essential action in baseball is either (for the offence) to advance runners around the bases or (for the defence) to halt that advance. As simple as this is in principle, in practice it generates a remarkably large range of strategies. Any given situation—the number of runners on base, the bases they occupy, their skills as runners or base-stealers, the count on the hitter, the number of outs, the specialties of the pitcher and the batter, the catcher's skill at throwing out runners, the positioning of fielders, which inning is being played, and so on—allows for a considerable variety of possible plays, on either side of the ball. At any moment, one manager may be calculating how to advance his runners (whether to call for the steal, the hit-and-run, sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, a double steal, the squeeze, and so on) while the opposing manager is calculating how best to thwart his opponent (not only through the pitching approach and positioning of fielders, but by, say, calling for a pitch-out when a steal is anticipated, and so on). Since the variables that determine which strategies are possible or advisable change from pitch to pitch, and according to all the varieties of play situation that may come about in any game, the game played between the two managers is the most intricate aspect of the game, and for many followers of the sport[who?] is considered the true 'inner game'.
First-class cricket also has a number of strategic elements not found in baseball, simply because the maximum time duration of the game is fixed (which can be up to five days for Test cricket) and a match not completed by the end of the time duration results in a draw regardless of the relative score (Although, in domestic competitions a 1st innings lead is beneficial to their final standings). By contrast, baseball games are played to completion regardless of the time duration and there is no possibility for a tie or draw (with the exception of certain exhibition games such as the MLB All-Star Game, or in the case of Japan, where games are declared ties after 12 innings). There are no equivalents in baseball of, for example, deciding when to declare or whether or not to make your opponent follow on.
Strategy based on the playing surface
The condition of the playing strip (the pitch) in cricket is of vital significance as, unlike baseball, the ball more often than not is deliberately bounced on the pitch before reaching the batsman. While in baseball, playing conditions between different stadia are much the same (except for perhaps small differences in the dimensions of the field, whether the outfield is fast or slow, and if the field is grass or artificial turf), the physical characteristics of the cricket pitch can vary over the course of the game, or from one field to another, or from one country to another. On the Indian subcontinent, for instance, pitches tend to be dry, dusty and soft. These pitches offer less assistance to fast bowlers because the ball tends to bounce slower and lower, where most fast bowlers rely on bounce and speed to defeat the batsman. On the other hand, spin bowlers prefer this surface because it gives greater traction to the ball and will result in the ball breaking or turning more when it hits the surface. When such a delivery is bowled, the ball is said to have "turned". Conversely, pitches in places such as Australia, England, South Africa or the West Indies tend to be hard, true surfaces, called "batting wickets" or "roads" because the ball bounces uniformly and thus batsman find it easier to score runs, although these wickets suit fast bowlers more than spinners. Accordingly, teams are generally much harder to beat in their own country, where both their batsmen and bowlers are presumably suited to the types of pitches encountered there. On any given pitch, however, conditions will become more suitable for spinners as time progresses as the pitch becomes softer and worn through use, making the spin bowler something of a cricketing "closer". The pitch can be cleaned of debris and rolled between innings, and should be mowed before each day's play at the discretion of the umpires. But the pitch cannot be watered once the match has started (unless it rains which can happen at a time when nobody can cover the pitch). Its characteristics can therefore change during the game, and can be a major factor in deciding whether to bat or field first.
Baseball parks are also not completely uniform, however many of the variations in playing conditions in baseball also arise in cricket. Stadiums with retractable roofs, for example, usually play differently with and without the roof. For example, with the roof open the wind will affect how far the ball carries. Against a running team the basepaths may be heavily watered. Many stadiums have idiosyncratic features – for example, the short right field and high left field wall (called the Green Monster) at Fenway Park, the hill and flagpole in the outfield (Tal's Hill) at Minute Maid Park, or numerous "porches" (parts of the grandstands hanging over the outfield, such as the "Short Porch in Right" at Yankee Stadium) which allow short home runs. There is an equivalent for this in cricket, where the placement of the pitch may render one perpendicular boundary significantly shorter than the other. For example, at a particular ground, the leg-side boundary may be 15 feet closer to the batsman than the off-side boundary. Such a boundary can then be targeted by batmen in search of quick runs.
The baseball behaves differently in those stadiums with artificial turf as well. Artificial surfaces are harder and more uniform than grass, and the ball tends to roll farther and straighter, and to bounce truer and more highly on these fields. Teams built to play the majority of their games on this field tend to place a higher premium on defence (since it is more likely to get an infield out) and speed (since it is more important to be able to beat out a throw) than on power hitting. The altitude of the stadium (most notably Coors Field) can also impact the distance a batted ball travels and the amount of ball movement a pitcher can generate with his deliveries, although recently balls have begun being placed in humidors at high-altitude parks to negate these effects. The amount of moisture in the dirt on the basepaths can also affect the behaviour of ground balls and the ease with which players may steal bases; some teams are known to alter the amount of watering done to the dirt depending on the skills of the home and visiting team. The amount of foul territory is also an important variable, since foul pop-ups that would be outs in some parks (e.g. the Oakland Coliseum) may end up in the stands in other parks, thereby allowing the batter to remain at the plate (e.g. Fenway Park and Coors Field). On the whole, though, these variations do not produce effects as great as variations in cricket pitches, with one arguable exception being Coors Field.
In general, the condition of the pitch is a much greater factor in cricket than in baseball, while at the professional level stadium shape and quirks permanently built into the playing surface are greater factors in baseball than in cricket. Note that in amateur cricket pitches may have considerable variation in shape and may even incorporate obstacles (like tree roots), but this is not considered desirable or ideal. In baseball, familiarity with distinct field layout is considered to be an important part of having home-field advantage.
Strategy based on batting order
The batting order in baseball must be declared before the game begins, and can only be changed if a substitution occurs. Batting out of turn is a rule violation resulting in a penalty. When a manager makes a substitution, the new player must occupy the same place in the batting order as the old one. To allow more complicated changes in batting order, managers may use the double switch, substituting for two players simultaneously. This is typically used to replace the pitcher but put the new pitcher in a spot in the batting order that will not come up to bat soon, previously occupied by another fielder (pitchers are almost uniformly poor hitters much like most specialist bowlers are poor batsmen). However, the rule remains that no individual player can ever change his position in the batting order within the same game.
Unlike baseball, the batting order in cricket is not fixed, and can be changed at any time, provided each player bats at most once. This gives rise to the "pinch hitter" in cricket – a non-specialist batsman promoted up the order to get quick runs – and the Nightwatchman. This latter is typically a lower-order batsman put in to bat near the end of the day to avoid a better batsman having to make two cold starts, a particular risk. If a batsman is not ready to bat at the fall of a wicket, another batsman, typically the player who occupies the next spot in the batting order, will go out to bat in his place, to avoid the risk of the original batsman being timed out.
The roles of individual players in the batting order are strikingly similar. In both sports, the players near the top of the batting order are considered superior batters or batsmen. The initial batters or batsmen generally specialise in avoiding making outs, while the third through fifth batters and batsmen are considered their team's best at providing runs. After that, the talent generally drops off, with the pitchers and bowlers generally being the worst at batting. Because outs are less important in baseball than in cricket, poorer batters are sometimes asked to attempt a "sacrifice" play in which they deliberately get themselves out in baseball to achieve a bigger team goal. This only occasionally happens in cricket, at the end of a limited-overs game, when a poorer batsman may sacrifice himself so that his partner will be on-strike for the next delivery. Also, since in baseball a batter who puts the ball in play does not get another at-bat until the entire batting order is cycled through, the opposing team may pitch around a skilled batter, deliberately walking him so that another batter comes to the plate. In cricket, a batsman remains at the pitch until he is out (or the team is all out, or his captain declares, or the set number of overs have been bowled), and the other team must bowl to him until he is out. The only way captains can negate the influence of superior batters similar to pitching around is to try to keep the more skilled batsman off-strike. This can be seen at the end of closely fought matches, where a captain might try and maximise the number of deliveries his bowlers can bowl at a non-specialist batsman. The exception is if the player is injured and has to leave the field for treatment: the next batsman in the order will then take his place. If the original batsman is able to continue later on, he can join the game again when one of his team's batsmen is out provided his injury time[clarification needed] has expired or after 5 wickets have fallen, whichever comes first provided the rest of the team is not bowled out before either of these situations arise.
Baseball players use thin, round bats and wear gloves to field (with the catcher wearing a special, more protective glove), while cricketers use wide, flat bats and field barehanded (except for the wicket-keeper, who wears gloves and protective leg pads). Note that while baseball fielders' gloves do provide modest protection against impact, they are used primarily to extend reach and are generally not padded (except for the catcher's glove). In cricket a batsman wears protective gear such as pads, gloves, thigh pads, helmet, a chest guard, an arm pad and a box (A.K.A. a cup), whereas the only required protective gear for baseball batters is an unsecured helmet (as required in major league baseball rule 1.16); many batters also use elbow, shin, ankle, or hand protectors, and most wear a cup (A.K.A. a box) and use batting gloves (similar to golf gloves) to aid grip.
Another difference between the two sports involves the condition of the ball as a match progresses. In cricket, if a ball is hit into the stands, the spectators must return it to the field. Also, a ball that is scuffed or scratched will continue in use; a ball must be used for a minimum number of overs (currently 80 in Test cricket and 25 in One-Day-International cricket with a different ball being used from each end) before it can be replaced. If a ball is damaged, lost, or illegally modified, it is replaced by a used ball of similar condition to the old one. Finally, cricketers are allowed sparingly to modify the ball, though this is highly restricted. The ball may be polished (usually on a player's uniform) without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and may have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. In Major League Baseball (MLB), a ball that is hit into the stands is never returned to play and spectators are free to keep any balls that come into their possession (although local tradition may provide for a ball to be thrown back, specifically in the case of home-run balls hit against the Chicago Cubs when playing at Wrigley Field).
Moreover, baseballs are replaced on a regular interval during the course of a game. Major League Baseball requires the home team to supply the baseballs that will be used during that day's games. MLB further require that the home team make available at least 90 new baseballs to the umpires prior to the start of the game. Generally, a baseball is replaced every time it either is hit by a batter or touches the ground. In a typical Major League Baseball game, baseballs are replaced every five pitches or so with a total game average of around 70 baseballs being used.
Because baseball hitting is difficult, baseball rules prohibit the deliberate scratching or scuffing of a ball, or the application of any foreign substance that could conceivably affect the flight or visibility of a ball. Balls that are deliberately made more difficult to hit by applying foreign substances are often known as spitballs, regardless of the specific substance applied (such as Vaseline). Both spitballs and those that become scuffed or scratched through normal game play are immediately removed from play and never reused. The current rules regarding the condition of baseballs did not come into effect until 1920, after the death of Ray Chapman from being hit with a Carl Mays spitball. Before that point, the rules were similar to those still present in cricket. However, the new rules were not consistently enforced for several decades afterwards, and several pitchers (most notably Gaylord Perry) built careers around skirting these rules, doing such things as hiding nail files in their gloves or putting Vaseline on the underside of the peaks of their caps. In modern baseball, however, the prohibition against modifying the baseball in almost any way is strictly enforced and players found to be in violation of this rule are not only ejected from the game in which the infraction occurred, but are also subject to a suspension. The only substance applied to a baseball is the Delaware River mud formula that umpires rub in before a game to remove the "shine" from the ball and improve its grip. The pitcher is also allowed to use rosin on his hands (via a rosin bag) to improve his grip, and to blow on his hands in cold weather.
Both games have a long history of using a vast array of statistics. The scorers are directed by the hand signals of an umpire. Every play or delivery is logged, and from the log, or scoresheet, is derived a summary report. Baseball commonly uses times at bat, base hits, RBIs, stolen bases, errors, strikeouts and other occurrences. These are then often used to rate the player. In cricket, commonly used individual player statistics for batsman include batting average, strike rate (mainly used in limited overs cricket), and number of 50 and 100 run scores made during an innings. For bowlers, bowling average, economy rate (most relevant to limited overs cricket) and number of five wicket hauls are commonly cited. Although cricket uses detailed statistics as a guide, owing to the variety of situations in cricket, they are not always considered a true reflection of the player. Ian Botham is an example of a player who, despite relatively poor averages, was particularly noted as one of England's greatest cricketers for his ability to dominate games.
Henry Chadwick (1824–1908) was an English-born American sportswriter, pioneer baseball statistician and historian, often called the "father of baseball". Before he first came across organised baseball in 1856, he was a cricket reporter for The New York Times and player of cricket and similar ball games such as rounders.
In baseball, questioning of the validity and utility of conventional baseball statistics has led to the creation of the field of sabermetrics, which assesses alternatives to conventional statistics. Conclusions are sometimes drawn from inadequate samples – for example, an assertion that a batter has done poorly against a specific pitcher, when they have only faced each other a handful of times, or that a player is "clutch" due to having more success with runners in scoring position or during the late innings with rather small sample sizes.
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Both sports play an important part in the cultures of the societies in which they are popular. Baseball is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, and is known in the United States as "the national pastime". It is one of the sports most readily identified with the United States. Baseball references abound in American English, and the sport is well represented in American cinema in numerous baseball movies. Baseball also plays an important cultural role in many parts of Latin America, (specifically Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela), as well as in East Asia. Many terms and expressions from the sport have entered the English lexicon. Examples are "getting to first base," "out of left field", "having two strikes against him/her", "swinging for the fences", "he struck out", "that's a home run", and "southpaw" (baseball diamonds are traditionally built with home plate to the west so hitters do not have to fight the setting sun as well as the pitch, a pitcher's left arm is always to the south).
Cricket has an equally strong influence on the culture of many nations, mainly Commonwealth nations, including England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, the English-speaking Caribbean and especially in the Indian-subcontinent where it is often said to be followed like a religion. Canada has seen a marked increase in domestic, as well as interest in international cricket, over the past decade. This can be attributed, in large part, to the growing subcontinental diaspora in Canada. Cricket is the most popular sport or a major sport in most former British Colonies. Like baseball, cricket has had an influence on the lexicon of these nations with such phrases as "that's not cricket" (unfair), "had a good innings", "sticky wicket", "hitting for six", "played with a straight bat" and "bowled over".
The ten Test-playing nations regularly participate in tours of other nations to play usually both a Test and One Day International series. Twenty20 is becoming more popular in international competition. The amateur game has also been spread further afield by expatriates from the Test-playing nations. Many of these minor cricketing nations (including the USA and Canada and other nations, such as the Netherlands, which do not have a British heritage) compete to qualify for the Cricket World Cup. The very first international cricket match was played between the USA and Canada in 1844.
Baseball in a similar way has also been spread around the world, most notably in Central America and East Asia. Canadian baseball developed as a minor league sport in parallel to the US major leagues before eventually joining them, first with the Montreal Expos in 1969 (now the Washington Nationals) and then with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977. Serious domestic leagues are found in many nations including Japan, South Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and players routinely move across countries to join professional baseball teams. However, baseball does not have a robust tradition of national teams or professional international competition, although this is slowly becoming more popular around the world with the emergence of competitions like the World Baseball Classic. Interestingly, there have been several Australian Major League Baseball players, a country where cricket is more popular by far.
The nature of the top elite level in both sports differs markedly. Nearly all cricket revenue comes from international matches, and domestic leagues serve largely as a development ground for international players. By contrast nearly all baseball revenue comes from domestic leagues, most notably in the United States and Japan.
Cricket's international programme allows the weaker cricketing nations to play against the best in the world, and the players have the chance to become national heroes. On the other hand, the dominance of national teams also means that a great many talented cricketers in nations such as Australia and India will never receive recognition or prestige unless they make it into the national team.
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Standards of sportsmanship differ. In cricket, the standard of sportsmanship has historically been considered so high that the phrase "It's just not cricket" was coined in the 19th century to describe unfair or underhand behaviour in any walk of life. In the last few decades though, top-level cricket has become increasingly fast-paced and competitive, increasing the use of appealing and sledging, although players are still expected to abide by the umpires' rulings without argument, and for the most part they do. Even in the modern game fielders are known to signal to the umpire that a boundary was hit, despite what could have been a spectacular save (though they may well be found out by the TV umpire anyway) and also signal if they did not take a catch even if it appeared that they did. In addition, many cricket batsmen "walk" when they think they are out, even if the umpire does not declare them out. This is considered a very high level of sportsmanship, as a batsman might easily take advantage of incorrect umpiring decisions; but with the introduction of the decision review system this has become more difficult (in games when the system is in use). The "Spirit of Cricket" was added as a preamble to the Laws in 2000, declaring that "Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this Spirit causes injury to the game itself".
In baseball, a player correcting an umpire's call to his own team's detriment is unheard of, at least at the professional level. Individual responsibility and vigilance are part of the game's tradition. It is the umpire's responsibility to make the right call, and matters of judgment are final. Similarly, when a runner misses a base or leaves too early on a caught fly ball, the umpire keeps silent, as it is the fielder's responsibility to know where the runners are and to make an appeal. When a fielder pretends not to know where the ball is (the "hidden ball trick"), the umpire keeps silent, as it is the runner's responsibility to know where the ball is.
In baseball, celebrating an out, stealing bases when well ahead, or smiling on the field when well ahead are considered serious breaches of sportsmanship. Possibly the most serious breach of sportsmanship is the pitcher's throwing behind the batter, since batters often react to a pitch that may hit them by backing up.
|Analogous concepts and similar terms|
|each team's batting turn||an innings (either singular or plural)||a half-inning or side; innings is a plural term – but most commonly, one batting turn is called either the "top" or the "bottom" of an inning, depending on which team bats first and which team is batting now|
|player who delivers the ball to start play||a bowler, who bowls||a pitcher, who pitches|
|player who strikes at the ball||batsman (The term batter is used in women's cricket.) The batsman facing the bowler is the striker, the other is the non-striker||batter (The term batsman is often used, however, in the phrase "hit batsman.")|
|distance between above two players||22 yards (66 feet) or 20.1 metres (approx. 58 ft or 17.7 m between the bowler and batsman at delivery)||60 feet 6 inches or 18.4 m (approx. 58 ft or 17.7 m between pitcher and batter at delivery)|
|fielder behind the player batting||wicket-keeper (or "keeper" for short)||catcher|
|player's batting turn||(batting) innings, knock, dig||plate appearance, at-bat, ups|
|batting stance||(a.k.a. guard) bat held vertically, with the handle upwards, and the bottom edge on the ground||bat held cocked in the air behind the head|
|hitting the ball||shot or stroke (The batsman need not run)||hit – also shot, stroke, knock, etc. (The batter must run if the ball is hit into fair territory)|
|carrying bat after striking||batsman carries bat while running and uses it as an extension of his body||batter drops bat after hitting and while running|
|edge of the field||boundary: lines, ropes, fences, other objects, no physical marker (Law 19)||fence, wall|
|scoring over the boundary or fence||runs are scored if the ball touches or lands over the boundary; six runs (six) if on the full, four runs (four) if on the bounce or along the ground. If a boundary is scored off a wide or no-ball the extra run is still added so it can also be either five or seven runs.||home run if on the fly (and fair) – one, two, three, or four runs depending on the number of runners on base; automatic double ("ground-rule double") if on the bounce from fair territory – batter and any runners on base may advance only two bases; thus, only a maximum of two runs may be scored|
|Hits inside the field result in...||as many runs as the batsmen can complete. Normally between zero and three, but there is theoretically no upper limit in unusual circumstances such as misfields, overthrows or lost balls. If the ball strikes a piece of the fielding team's discarded equipment such as hats, helmets etc., an automatic five run penalty is awarded against the fielding side to the striking batsman.||runners advancing, with possibility of one or more runners reaching home for a run.|
|batsman scoring no runs in an innings||duck. Known as a golden duck if out on the first ball faced or a diamond duck if out without facing a ball and/or out on the first ball of the team's innings. Scoring a duck in both innings of a first class match is known as a pair and the terms king pair or golden pair are used if both dismissals were golden ducks.||struck out (common even for a skilled batter), "left stranded" (which occurs when a batter hits the ball and gets on base, but the team gets all out before he is able to score a run – something which doesn't happen in cricket except in the case of a "diamond duck" when a batsman is run out without having faced a ball)|
|hitting the ball in a specific area||placement||place hitting|
|hitting the ball high into the air, liable to being caught||skyer (or skier), spooning it up, "scooping the ball", "flier"||fly ball, pop fly, popup, "skying it"|
|catching the ball in flight||catch||fly out or catch (see in flight)|
|dismissing a batsman/batter||a wicket||an out|
|dismissal types||bowled, caught, leg before wicket, run out, stumped, hit wicket—or, very rarely: handled the ball, hit the ball twice, obstructing the field, timed out||tag out, fly out, force out, strike out, interference (similar to obstructing the field in cricket, but more common)|
|dismissal procedure||appeal to an umpire – a wicket cannot be given without an appeal from the fielding side, unless the batsman leaves the field on his own (Law 27).||automatic – most outs are called immediately by umpires; some potential outs require an appeal play to be called but this is rare.|
|curving deliveries||leg break, off break, googly, doosra, leg cutter and off cutter change direction after bouncing. Often these will also drift while in the air. Topspinners dip downwards and bounce higher, arm-ball and flipper fly flatter and skid on. The away swing or outswinger curves away from batter in the air, the in swing or inswinger curves toward batter. Seam deliveries will also sometimes turn on the bounce.||breaking balls curve in the air; the curveball/slider/cut fastball away from the pitching-hand side, the sinker, splitter, and forkball unexpectedly dip downwards (as can a curveball; see 12–6 curveball), the rare screwball bends toward pitching-hand side, as will the increasingly common circle change, and the unpredictable knuckleball which relies on atmosphere and wind can literally move in any direction, and even may corkscrew on its way to the plate|
|a delivery not in a good hitting zone||wide (and a penalty run can be awarded if the batsman is unable to reach the ball in his normal batting stance)||ball|
|central/inner playing arena||wicket, pitch, deck or strip||infield or diamond|
|sides of the field||Assuming a right-handed batsman, the "Off side" is the side to his right, while the side to his left is called the "Leg side" (as that is the side closest to the batsman's legs) or sometimes the "On side". Reverse for a left-handed batsman.||"Left field" is always to the batter's left and "right field" is always to the batter's right (when facing the pitcher), regardless of the side of the plate he hits from. The term "opposite field" in baseball is equivalent to "off side", as it is the side of the baseball field in front of the batter as he faces the pitcher.|
|substitution||injured players can be replaced for fielding and running, not bowling, batting or keeping wicket (Law 2)||players can be replaced in line-up for any reason; once removed they cannot return (except in certain youth leagues such as Little League which allow a "courtesy runner" for a pitcher, some recreational leagues and exhibition games, and in special rules such as designated hitter); baseball substitution rule was originally also only in case of injury; unlike cricket, the replacement could also bat|
|delivery toward the head||"bouncer", "beamer" or sometimes "beamball" – umpire may warn or eject the bowler||"beanball" – umpire may warn or eject the pitcher|
|Words used in both sports, possibly with different meanings|
|a ball||any legal delivery by the bowler||a legal delivery not entering the strike zone nor swung at by the batter. If a batter receives four balls during one plate appearance, he is awarded a base on balls or walk.|
|drive||powerfully hit ball from the face of the bat, usually with the bat positioned vertically or close to vertically||powerfully hit ball, often used to describe when the ball comes off the bat fast and flat "Line Drive" (could be a hit, or caught for an out)|
|infield||the area of the field less than 30 yards (27 m) from the pitch (basically oval in shape, marked by a restriction line in limited- overs cricket)||the area of the field inside the grass line and immediately near the "diamond"; the "diamond" is the area inside the baselines, which are straight lines either drawn between bases (home plate to first – third to home plate) or imaginary (first to second and second to third); the "diamond" is thus a square 90 feet (27 m) on a side but is called such because of how it appears as seen from home plate.|
|inning(s)||an innings is a period of batting, it can refer to that of a whole team, or an individual player||an inning is one period of batting for each team (3 outs per half-inning)|
|line-up||the "batting lineup" means the players who are regarded as strong batsmen. a "strong or long batting lineup" might mean 7 or 8 recognised batsmen.||the players playing in a given game, particularly with respect to their batting order|
|out||a batsman is "given out" by an umpire when he is dismissed in any of several ways. "outs" is never used.||batters can be "out"; when there are three "outs" the half-inning is over; the term "retired" is also used.|
|outfield||the area of the field more than 30 yards (27 m) from the pitch||the fair-territory area outside the grass line|
|pinch hitter||batsman promoted up the batting order to score runs quickly in a one-day game (deliberately borrowed from the baseball term)||substitute for another batter|
||the act of throwing the ball toward the batter|
|play and time||Applies to an entire interval, such as an innings||Applies to a single pitch.|
|pull||an aggressive shot hit with a horizontal bat towards the legside boundary, typically played to a short delivery||similarly, to hit a pitch towards the side of the field closer to the hitter (left field for a right-handed hitter and vice versa)|
|retire||a batsman can stop batting part way through their innings (when the team is doing well, to give junior batsmen a chance to get experience – "retired out"; rarely or never in high-level matches), or "retire hurt" (this is usually due to injury (or being taken ill), in which case they have "retired not-out", and can resume play later in the team's innings.)||to retire a batter means to get the batter out; when three outs are completed, ending the batting team's turn in an inning, the team on the field is said to have "retired the side"|
|run||unit of scoring, achieved by the batsmen changing ends in one movement, or awarded for a boundary (4 or 6 runs), or for a penalty (1 to 5 runs)||unit of scoring, achieved by batter visiting all four bases in succession, in up to four movements|
|single||stroke which scores one run||hit which allows the batter to advance to first base. It can score one run or more if runners are on base. A lone run in an inning can be called a "singleton".|
|walk||to leave the field when out, without waiting for the umpire's decision||slang for a base on balls: to advance to first base after receiving four balls|
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- Law 7
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