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Expand chart
Diagram: Harry Stevens/Axios

England and New Zealand will go head-to-head in the Cricket World Cup final on Sunday, with both countries looking to win their first ever world title.

How it's played: Cricket has two teams of 11 players that take turns batting and playing the field. Like baseball, the objective is to score more runs than the opposing team.

  • The field: A cricket field is made up of a large grass oval with a 66-foot-long playing area, or "pitch," in the middle. While a baseball field has boundaries that determine fair vs. foul, in cricket, the entire field is in play.
  • Wickets: On both ends of the pitch are wickets, which are made up of three wooden poles called "stumps" and connected on top by two horizontal wooden pieces called "bails." (see illustration below)

The batting team sends out two batsmen who always work in pairs. Their job is to score runs and defend their wickets, and they continue hitting until they get out.

  • If the batsman hits the ball and both he and the non-striking batsman safely run to the opposite crease, this scores one run. They try to do this as many times as possible, scoring a run each time.
  • If the batsman hits the ball and it reaches the boundary (aka, outfield fence) on the ground, this automatically scores four runs (no running required).
  • If the batsman hits the ball and it reaches the boundary on the fly (aka, a home run), this automatically scores six runs.
  • If the bowler bowls the ball too high, too wide or throws a "no-ball" (an illegal bowl of any kind), this automatically scores one run.

The fielding team puts all 11 players on the field, one of whom is designated as the bowler (aka, pitcher). The five main ways to get a batsman out:

  • Bowled out: If the bowler bowls the ball and it knocks over either a stump or a bail, the batsman has been bowled out.
  • Caught out: If the batsman hits the ball in the air and a fielder catches it, he's been caught out.
  • Run out: If a batsman runs for his partner's crease and the ball is thrown into the wickets before he gets there, he's been run out.
  • Leg before wicket (LBW): If the ball hits the batsman's leg and the umpire thinks it would have hit the wickets if his leg wasn't in the way, he's ruled out.
  • Stumped out: If the batsman swings and misses and the wicket keeper (aka, catcher) catches the ball and pushes it into the wickets before the batter can return to the crease, he's been stumped out.

Game format: After six bowled balls (aka, an "over"), the field of play flips (the pitch is symmetrical so you can play in either direction) and the bowler changes.

  • Cricket formats vary, but in the World Cup, an "inning" ends after 50 overs — or when the batting team has batted through the order. Once both teams have batted, the game ends and the team with the higher score wins.

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