The Indoor Cricket World Cup
India has, for the first time, committed to fielding a team in the coming Indoor Cricket World Cup. It is the third staging of the Indoor Cricket World Cup, and will be played in South Africa in October this year. The other nations competing - Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Zimbabwe - look forward with anticipation to India's involvement.
Indoor cricket is a relatively new sport, especially in India, and it is to be hoped the fielding of a national team will encourage the sport's further development.
And it is certainly a sport capable of capturing the interests of players and spectators alike.
Indoor cricket as an organised sport started in Perth, Western Australia in the late 1970's. It has grown since those early days into a fully-fledged international sport. International matches have been occuring since 1985, and the first Indoor Cricket World Cup was held in England in 1995.
Indoor cricket is played on a court which is surrounded on all four sides and the 'ceiling' by a tightly tensioned net. The court is between 28 metres and 30 metres in length, and between 10.5 metres and 12 metres in width. The height of the court's top covering net is between 4 and 4.5 metres. To enable the netting to be tightly secured, Indoor cricket courts are usually built in factory units or large sheds, with the netting suspended from the ceiling and walls of the outer building.
The actual pitch is the same length and configuration as an outdoor cricket pitch. However, the non-striker's crease is only halfway between the batting crease and the bowler's crease. The floor of the court, including the actual pitch, is covered in synthetic turf or similar carpet-like material. The floor is usually concrete, but courts can be successfully set up on wooden floors.
The ball is a soft-centred cricket ball. It has the standard outdoor ball covering of leather. It is two-piece, and stitched the same as an outdoor ball. It is therefore lighter and not quite as hard as an outdoor ball, making it a lot safer for all the fielders who are a lot closer to the batsman than they would be in outdoor cricket.
Batsmen use 'normal' cricket bats and gloves, but no-one wears pads. The game involves running on almost every delivery, and pads would make that amount of sprinting too uncomfortable and awkward.
The game is played between two sides, each with 8 players. Each team has one batting innings and one fielding/bowling innings. The team with the higher score after both batting innings are completed is the winner.
Each of the players must bowl 2 overs when fielding, and each batsman faces 4 overs of batting with a partner. Unlike outdoor cricket, each and every player in Indoor Cricket bowls the same number of overs, and bats for the same number of overs. Each batting innings therefore lasts for 16 overs - 4 pairs of batsmen, each facing 4 overs (and 8 bowlers, each bowling 2 overs). Games usually last about an hour and 15 minutes approx.
Each time a batsman is out when batting, he loses 5 runs but keeps batting until his and his partner's 4 overs have been faced. Runs are scored by any combination of - hitting designated sections of the net (but only if the physical run is successfully completed too); physically running between the striker's and non-striker's crease, and through sundries (no balls, wides). Because runs are lost when wickets fall, it is possible (though not all that common) for a batting partnership (or even a whole team) to end up with a negative score.
Wickets are lost in the usual manner - bowled, hit wicket, caught, runout, stumped and Leg Before Wicket. Catches are allowed after the ball rebounds off a net, and LBW is only paid if a batsman doesn't play a shot and the ball would have hit the stumps. Because of the number of fielders in such a small area, run-outs are the most common form of dismissal.
Batsmen usually run every time they hit the ball, hence the runout being the most common form of dismissal. This also makes the game very exciting and action-filled - it is rare for there not to be a score (or wicket) every ball bowled. And the recent addition of a rule whereby the failure to score after 3 consecutive balls constitutes the loss of a wicket for the batsmen ensures batsmen are always trying to score.
The bowlers always bowl from the same end. Therefore, at the end of each over, the batsmen change ends, not the bowler.
Fielding sides also have a wicketkeeper. The 'keeper is the only fielder allowed to wear gloves.
The game has become very popular for several reasons. It only lasts for a little over an hour, is suitable for players from expert to absolute novice (and particularly suited to children), doesn't require expensive equipment, can be played by people of varying levels of fitness, and can be played any time of day, any time of year. It is also an excellent spectator sport. Spectators are very close to the players, the action is virtually non-stop, and the nature of the game encourages spectacular fielding action.
For those whose interest has been aroused can read and see a full, comprehensive description and explanation of the game (including many action-photographs) at the Indoor Cricket World web-site, at: http://www.iinet.net.au/~shel/indoor-cricket2.html