Scoring in cricket matches involves two elements – the number of runs scored and the number of wickets lost by each team. The scorer is someone appointed to record all runs scored, all wickets taken and, where appropriate, the number of overs bowled. In professional games, in compliance with the Laws of Cricket, two scorers are appointed, most often one provided by each team.
The scorers have no say in whether runs or extras are scored, wickets taken or overs bowled. This is the job of the umpires on the field of play, who signal to the scorers in cases of ambiguity such as when runs are to be given as extras rather than credited to the batsmen, or when the batsman is to be awarded a boundary 4 or 6. So that the umpire knows that they have seen each signal, the scorers are required to immediately acknowledge it.
While it is possible to keep score using a pencil and plain paper, scorers often use pre-printed scoring books, and these are commercially available in many different styles. Simple score books allow the recording of each batsman's runs, their scores and mode of dismissal, the bowlers' analyses, the team score and the score at the fall of each wicket. More sophisticated score books allow for the recording of more detail, and other statistics such as the number of balls faced by each batsman. Scorers also sometimes produce their own scoring sheets to suit their techniques, and some use coloured pens to highlight events such as wickets, or differentiate the actions of different batsmen or bowlers. It is often possible to tell from a modern scorecard the time at which everything occurred, who bowled each delivery, which batsman faced it, whether the batsman left the ball or played and missed, or which direction the batsman hit the ball and whether runs were scored. Sometimes details of occurrences between deliveries, or incidental details like the weather, are recorded.
In early times runs scored were sometimes simply recorded by carving notches on a stick – this root of the use of the slang term "notches" for "runs". In contrast, scoring in the modern game has become a specialism, particularly for international and national cricket competitions. While the scorers' role is clearly defined under the Laws of Cricket to be merely the recording of runs, wickets and overs, and the constant checking of the accuracy of their records with each other and with the umpires, in practice a modern scorer's role is complicated by other requirements. For instance, cricket authorities often require information about matters such as the rate at which teams bowled their overs. The media also ask to be notified of records, statistics and averages. For many important matches, unofficial scorers keep tally for the broadcast commentators and newspaper journalists allowing the official scorers to concentrate undisturbed. In the English county game, the scorers also keep score on a computer that updates a central server, to meet the demands of the online press that scores should be as up-to-date as possible.
The official scorers occasionally make mistakes, but unlike umpires' mistakes these may be corrected after the event.
Some cricket statisticians who keep score unofficially for the printed and broadcast media have become quite famous, for instance Bill Frindall, who scored for the BBC radio commentary team from 1966 to 2008, and Jo King.
Methods of scoring
There are predominantly two methods that scorers use to record a game: manually and computerised.
The manual method uses a scorecard and a pen. The scorecard is colloquially known as The Book. Using the book, the scorer fills out two main sections per ball, the bowling analysis and the batting analysis. Each section helps track the number of balls bowled in an over, any extras (such as Wide Balls and No Balls) and also any wickets (or dismissals). At the end of each over, the scorer may fill in an over analysis with the score at the end of the over, the number of wickets that have fallen, any penalties incurred and the number of the bowler in the analysis.
Most software used for cricket scoring uses a form at the front end with buttons for the scorer to press to record ball by ball events. Additional functions include being able to draw a line denoting where the ball went from the batting crease and where the ball pitched. This gives additional charts tracking bowling placement and shot selection which can then be used at the coaching level. This additional information, however, does not form part of the critical role of a scorer, which is to keep track of the score of the game. It has been known for scorers to use both methods in conjunction with one another, in case the computer goes down or runs out of battery.
In addition to PC software, mobile apps are being used. Most of the amateur tournaments use mobile apps on their smartphones because they are more convenient and free, which makes it perfect fit for amateur cricketers since they cannot afford to spend money on standalone and custom software. There are several cricket scoring apps such as Total Cricket Scorer (TCS), a comprehensive program favoured many scorers in the County Championship in England, CricHQ, CricHeroes, CricScores, CricksLab, CricClubs, Chauka etc.. TCS was bought out by CricHQ in late 2015. Mobile apps allow amateur cricketers to keep their scores online, and also provide them with personalised statistics and graphs on their own mobile devices.
The ECB make free software available for cricket scoring both on PC and mobile devices from the PlayCricket website.
Referring to scores
The score of a cricket team whose innings is in progress is given as the number of runs they have scored "for" the number of wickets their opponents have taken. For example, a team that has scored 100 runs and lost three wickets has a score of "one hundred for three", written 100–3 (also 100/3); The exception to this is in Australia, where it is conventional to reverse the wickets and runs scored, so that what would be written 100–3 elsewhere in the world is written and said 3–100 (or 3/100) in Australia. A team that is dismissed having scored 300 runs is said to have a score of "three hundred all out", rather than "three hundred for ten"; the score for the innings is then simply written 300. However, if a team declare their innings closed (in a First-class match) or reach an over limit (in a limited-overs match), the number of wickets is included in their score for the innings, for example 275–7. A declaration is noted by appending a "d" or "dec" to the score (for example 300–8d); such a score is spoken in the standard form with the word "declared" appended (example: "300 for 8, declared").
In a two-innings match, the scores of each team for their two innings are always given separately rather than being totalled, and the current score is stated in terms of how many runs the batting team lead or trail by. An example of a score for a two-innings match in progress would be: Team A 240 & 300–7d, Team B 225 & 130–4. This indicates that Team A in their first innings scored 240 runs, and Team B made 225 in reply. Team A then made 300 for 7 in their second innings, declaring it closed, and Team B are currently 130 for 4 – in this scenario, Team B currently trail by 185 runs (and are said to be facing a target or run chase of 316, the score with which they would win the match). If a team has followed on in its second innings, this is indicated by appending "(f/o)" to their score, e.g. Team A 513, Team B 145 & 254–7 (f/o).
When a game is completed, there are standard ways of referring to the difference in scores between the two teams. For instance, if Team A, batting first, scored 254–6, then Team B, batting second, only scored 185, whether or not they go all out, it would be said that "Team A won by 69 runs" because they either bowled out the opposition or caused them to exhaust their overs (in a limited-overs match) when they were trailing by 69 runs. On the other hand, if team A, batting first, scored 254–6 but team B, batting second, scored 255–8, it would be said that "team B won by 2 wickets" because they reached their target with 2 wickets remaining. In a two-innings match, a team can win having only batted once (while the other team, batting twice, has not equalled the other team's score). For instance, team A score 160 all out, team B score 530 and declare, then team A score 230 all out. In this case it would be said that "team B won by an innings and 140 runs".
In limited over matches (one innings matches), the team that scores more runs wins. So if team A scored 250 from 50 overs with the loss of 1 wicket (250–1), then the target for team B is to get 251. The number of wickets that has fallen does not affect which team has won. So if team B scored 251 but with the loss of 9 wickets (251–9), team B still won because it scored more runs, even though it lost more wickets. In a similar situation if team A scored 250/1, but team B scored 240 (all out), then team A would win because it scored more runs. Part way through a limited over match, to judge the likely final scores, it is important to know, in addition to runs already scored and wickets already lost, how many overs each side has remaining, so this is always quoted.
In limited overs matches shortened by bad weather, the winning team is the one whose scoring is best according to the targets set by a rain rule, usually the Duckworth-Lewis method. The method used to set targets takes into account both the number of overs and the number of wickets lost.
In First-class cricket (two innings match), the team that scores more runs, having dismissed its opponents twice, is the winner. An example would be: Team A scored 240 in their first innings, and Team B made 225 in reply. Team A then made 300 for 7 in their second innings, declaring it closed (they might do this because there was not much time left in the match and wanted to have time to dismiss team B and win rather than draw the game). Team A would be setting team B a target of 316 to win. If, in the second innings, team B only scored 250 (indeed anything less than 315) then team A would be the winner. If, on the other hand, team B scored 316–9, team B would be the winner. If time or the weather prevents the opposing side's being dismissed twice, the game is a draw, even if one side has scored more than the other. There is no equivalent of Duckworth-Lewis Method in these matches.
The terms draw and tie, which are synonymous in many sports, have distinct meanings in cricket. A tie refers to a match in which the game is completed and the two teams finish with exactly the same score. A draw refers to a two-innings match that does not reach a conclusion, usually through a lack of time and/or rain. A limited overs match which does not reach a conclusion due to rain is not considered a draw, but rather is said to have no result. However, in the case of a tournament final, the match may be decided by an extra over, or awarded to the team with the most boundaries scored, or least wickets lost, or another method indicated by the rules of the tournament. This was the case in the 2019 Cricket World Cup Final, awarded to England on most boundaries scored after a tie and an extra over (super over), after scores remained level.
Cricket scorers keep track of many other facts of the game. As a minimum a scorer would note:
- For each ball, who bowled it and how many runs were scored from it, whether by the batsman with his bat ('off the bat') or byes.
- For each batsman, every scoring run made.
- For each dismissal, the kind of dismissal (e.g. LBW or run out), the bowler (in the case of a bowling, LBW, catch, wicket hit, or stumping), any other player involved (in the case of a catch, run out, or stumping), as well as the total the batting team reached at that point in the game ('the fall of wicket'). Example notations as seen on cricket scorecards:
- For each bowler (his 'figures'), the number of overs bowled, the number of wickets taken, the number of runs conceded, and the number of maiden overs bowled.
Traditionally, the score book might record each ball bowled by a bowler and each ball faced by a batsman, but not necessarily which batsman faced which ball. Linear scoring systems were developed from the late 19th century and early 20th century by John Atkinson Pendlington, Bill Ferguson and Bill Frindall, to keep track of the balls faced by a batsman off each bowler. Another early method of recording the number of balls faced and runs scored by each batsman off each bowler was devised by Australian scorer J.G. Jackschon in the 1890s, using a separate memorandum alongside the main scoresheet.
Frequently more detail is recorded, for instance, for a batsman, the number of balls faced and the number of minutes batted. Sometimes charts (known as wagon wheels) are prepared showing to which part of the field each scoring shot by a batsman was made (revealing the batman's favourite places to hit the ball)
Technology such as Hawk-Eye allows for more detailed analysis of a bowler's performance. For instance the beehive chart shows where a bowler's balls arrived at a batsman (high, low, wide, on the off stump etc.), while the pitch map shows where the balls pitched (trending toward short, good, or full lengths). Both charts can also show the results of these balls (dots, runs, boundaries, or wickets)
A cricket scorer will typically mark the score sheet with a dot for a legal delivery with no wicket taken or runs scored (hence the term "a dot ball") where conventional runs are taken the score sheet is marked with the number of runs taken on that delivery.
Special notation is used in the case of extras.
The conventional scoring notation for a wide is an equal cross (likened to the umpire standing with arms outstretched signalling a wide).
If the batsmen run byes on a wide ball or the ball runs to the boundary for 4, a dot is added in each corner for each bye that is run, typically top left, then top right, then bottom left and finally all 4 corners.
If the batsman hits the stumps with his bat, or the wicket-keeper stumps him, the batsman would be out and a ‘W’ is added to the WIDE ‘cross’ symbol.
If a batsman is run out while taking byes on a wide delivery then the number of completed runs are shown as dots and an 'R' is added in the corner for the incomplete run.
The conventional notation for a no-ball is a circle. If the batsman hits the ball and takes runs, then the runs are marked inside the circle. In practice it is easier to write down the number then encircle it.
If a no-ball delivery eludes the wicket keeper and the batsmen run byes or the ball runs to the boundary for 4 byes, each bye taken is marked with a dot inside the circle. Again it is easier to encircle the dots.
The conventional notation for a single bye is a triangle with a horizontal edge at the base and a point at the top. If more than one bye is taken the number scored is written within the triangle - in practice it is easier to write the number down and then draw the triangle around it.
The conventional notation for a single leg bye is a triangle with a point at the base and horizontal edge at the top (an inverted bye symbol). If more than one leg bye is taken the number scored is written within the triangle - in practice it is easier to write the number down and then draw the triangle around it.
Scores and points
In most one day competitions based on leagues, 2 points are awarded for a win and 0 for a loss, regardless of the margin of victory.
In County Championship matches league points are awarded to teams not only for winning (scoring more runs overall) or drawing a game, but also for the number of runs scored or wickets taken in the first innings of the match. These extra batting and bowling points can make a difference to who becomes the champions at the end of the season.
In a series of Test matches, the winner is the team that wins the most matches. Test series can be drawn, with both sides having the same number of wins (since match draws are a distinct possibility with Test cricket; a series need not have all games on record coming to a decision). However, in the Ashes (the series played between England and Australia), the Ashes only change hands if the holder clearly loses; the Ashes remain with the current holder if the series is drawn.