Beginners guide to the World Cup
All you need to know about the 50-over game ahead of cricket's showpiece event
Laura Jolly previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and is now cricket.com.au Women's Cricket Editor providing dedicated coverage to all aspects of the women's game
Are you heading to the World Cup but worried you’ll be left bamboozled by powerplays, ducks and extras? Never fear – here’s the dummies guide to One-Day International (ODI) cricket.
Firstly, as the name suggests, an ODI is a one-day cricket match, lasting for around eight hours (If you think that’s long, remember a Test match goes for five days).
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Matches are played between two teams of 11 players.
The match is made up of two innings and each team takes a turn at batting and bowling. An innings is made up of 50 overs. An over involves six deliveries from the bowler.
At the beginning of the match, the captains toss a coin and the winner elects to either bat or bowl. The team batting then sets out to score as many runs as they can from their 50 overs. The innings can end earlier than the allotted 50 overs if the team batting is all out (that is, 10 of the 11 batting players are dismissed by the bowling side).
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Each bowler can only bowl a maximum of 10 overs and the bowling side is also subjected to fielding restrictions (called powerplays).
These dictate the maximum number of fielders allowed outside the inner circle at any given time (the theory being, the fewer fielders outside the circle, the easier it should be for the batsmen to score).
In the first 10 overs of an innings, only two fielders can be placed outside the circle. During the second five-over restriction, known as the “batting powerplay”, the fielding team can only have three fielders outside the circle. The batting captain chooses when this happens, although it must be completed in full by the end of the 40th Over.
The rest of the time, the fielding team is allowed to have four players outside the circle.
Typically, the average number of runs scored might be around 250-300, although scores over 400 and under 100 can happen.
The team batting second then needs to reach the target set by the team that batted first.
If they can’t overtake the score in their allocated overs, or if they are bowled out, the first team wins.
If both teams finish on the exact same number of runs, the match is a tie. This has happened only four times in World Cup history (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011).
Five things you need to know about the World Cup:
1. It’s One-Day International cricket’s biggest tournament
Every four years (or thereabouts – things were a little haphazard between ’87 and ’99) since 1975, the world’s top teams have come together to battle for cricket’s greatest limited-overs prize. This time, the tournament is being held across 14 cities in Australia and New Zealand. On this side of the Tasman, you can catch matches in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart.
2. You might be surprised by some of the countries competing
There are 14 teams taking part in the World Cup, including the top 10 ‘full member’ cricket nations: Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Additionally, there are four ‘Associate’ teams who have qualified for the World Cup: Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates.
These nations have a habit of causing major upsets – Ireland shocked England at the 2011 tournament, much to the utter dismay of England’s supporter group the Barmy Army – so if you’re looking for a second team to get behind, check out these options.
Afghanistan’s only had a national cricket team for 14 years and have never played in a World Cup, the UAE players have full-time jobs outside of cricket, an Irish player holds the record for the fastest-ever World Cup century, and Scotland’s official team suit features tartan pants. What’s not to love?
3. It goes until the end of March, so be prepared to hear plenty about it
There will be 49 matches across 44 days, starting on Saturday and running until the final is held on Sunday March 29 at the MCG.
The 14 teams are split into two groups of seven teams each, called pools. Each team plays six games. Once all of the teams in each pool have played each other, the top four teams in each pool will progress to the quarter-finals.
The four winners of those sudden-death matches will play off in the semi-finals, before the last two standing do battle in the final.
4. Australia are attempting to win their fifth World Cup
When it comes to World Cup records, Australia stands head and shoulders above the rest. Australia have won the tournament on four occasions – 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007.
India and West Indies have each won two World Cups, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have won the other two, while England have never won it. New Zealand and South Africa have never even made the final.
Australia’s never won it on home soil, though – which is why you need to #GoGold and get the team over the line.
5. It’s 23 years since the World Cup was last held in Australia and New Zealand
That’s right. The last time the tournament came Down Under, Paul Keating was Prime Minister, the Brisbane Bears were a thing, one and two-cent coins were still in circulation and Strictly Ballroom hit the cinemas.
In 1992, Australia were knocked out before the semi-finals and Pakistan defeated England in the final.
Australia’s World Cup Fixtures
February 14: v England, 2:30pm at the MCG
February 21: v Bangladesh, 1:30pm at the Gabba
February 28: v New Zealand, 2:00pm at Eden Park (NZ)
March 4: v Afghanistan, 2:30pm at the WACA
March 8: v Sri Lanka, 2:30pm at the SCG
March 13: v Scotland, 2:30pm at Blundstone Arena