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Old 08-30-2019, 09:38 AM
mhendo is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 25,484
Folks here have done a pretty good job of explaining the key differences in the rules and mechanisms of the game, but what these differences also lead to is a fundamental difference in the nature of the two games. Both are about hitting a ball with a stick, but the pressures of the game work in different ways.

In baseball, the immediate, play-by-play pressure is heavily weighted on the pitcher. That is, in any given at-bat, the pitcher is expected to succeed, and if he doesn't it can have huge consequences for his team's chances to win the game. By contrast, the hitter is baseball is, by simple dint of the way the game works, expected to fail. We all know the stats: even the best hitters in the world only get a base hit about once every three tries, and the best get on base less than half the time, on average. I'm not arguing that hitters feel no pressure, or that they don't expect to succeed when they come to the plate, but they get multiple chances per game, and their performance is judged based on their aggregate performance rather than any single at-bat. If a hitter comes up in a big situation, and gets out, his team and fans are disappointed, but they also realize that this was, statistically, a likely outcome. By contrast, if a pitcher comes into a game and gives up a home run or a series of hit, this is viewed much more negatively because the pitcher is supposed to get the outs.

In cricket, by contrast, the constant pressure is on the batter. In a test match (the longer 5-day version of the game) each batter only gets (at most) two chances. Once you're out, you don't get to come back to the plate again in another 45 minutes. Also, the out itself is much more significant because a cricket batter's opportunities for scoring are open-ended. That is, if he doesn't get out he can stay out there all day and score tens or hundreds of runs. Even the best hitter in baseball can do no better than a home run on each at-bat; for a cricket player, the range of possibilities run the gamut from a first-ball out to a two-day appearance racking up 200+ runs. But one mistake, and that chance is gone.

Cricket bowlers, by contrast, are not expected to get a batter out on any given delivery, or even within any given over. While some weather conditions and pitches do benefit bowlers, the game as a whole is weighted towards the batters. Batters are not expected to fail in any given situation; they are expected to succeed, to stay in and to score runs. And a single mistake by a bowler, while it might allow the other team to hit the ball for 4 or 6 runs, isn't likely to turn the game. For the bowlers in cricket, like for the hitters in baseball, the evaluation of success is based more on the longer run of the game than on any particular encounter. A bowler who bowls 20-30 overs (120-180 deliveries) and gets 3 or 4 people out might have had a very good day.

This was all summed up quite nicely by English cricketer and author E.T. Smith in his book Playing Hardball, in which he visits the United States and spends time with some MLB oranizations interviewing coaches and players, and taking some batting practice himself. Smith says:
At the most fundamental level, baseball is a pitcher's game and cricket is a batsman's game. The cricket batsman is expected to win any one particular ball: no matter how bad the batsman or how good the bowler, it is nearly always more of a surprise when a ball produces a wicket [i.e., an out] than when it does not. Dots and runs are the bread and butter of cricket; wickets [outs] are the exceptions.

In baseball hits are the exceptions and strikes the norm. The pitcher wins most pitches and the hitter hopes to hang in there long enough to capitalise on a mistake.

That role reversal does strange things to the dynamics of pressure in baseball and cricket. Though there is great pressure...on bowlers, most cricketers accept that the pressure on the batsman is even more concentrated. The one-chance issue comes up here again. But so too, ironically, does the extent to which the odds are stacked in the batsman's favour. Getting out becomes more terrible in prospect the less it is acceptable.


The equivalent pressure in baseball is on the pitcher. The rarity of a pitcher giving up a run in baseball makes it more catastrophic even than losing a wicket. Meltdown in cricket is the batting collapse; meltdown in baseball is conceding a series of home runs.

pp. 94-95
Other aspects of the nature of the two games changes the way that bowlers and pitchers approach their tasks.

One of the most obvious is that, in cricket, the ball does not (unless the bowlers makes a mistake) arrive at the batter on the full. The cricket bowler is expected to make the ball bounce on the pitch, on its way to the batsman. And that bounce is part of the skill of bowling, and is also why sheer speed is not necessarily the main aim of the cricket bowler. In the same way that baseball pitchers vary things like velocity and curve to deceive the hitter, cricket bowlers use the pitch to make the ball move in ways intended to deceive the batter.

Connected with this issue is the question of exactly what the bowler wants to do, in terms of getting the batter out. Like the baseball pitcher, the cricket bowler seeks to deliver the ball in a way that maximizes the chance of an error by the batter, or puts the batter at some sort of disadvantage, especially through indecision. Just like some of the best baseball pitches are the ones on the outside corner, where a hitter might end up waving ineffectually at a pitch or grounding it gently to the infield, some of the best deliveries in cricket are often those that are placed right near the outside edge of the stumps, where it can be hard for a batsman to get properly behind the ball, but where he also feels obliged to try and get the bat in the way to prevent him being bowled out.

And this, in turn, leads us to another issue, which is the placement of the fielders. Field placement is far more flexible and varied in cricket than in baseball. One reason is that, in baseball there are 9 players in the field covering a field that describes an angle of 90 degrees. In cricket, there are 11 players in the field (i.e., two more than baseball), but they must cover a full 360 degree field of play. There is no "foul ground" in cricket, and the main playing area is smack in the middle of a large oval.

One place where it is very common to place fielders in cricket, especially in the early part of a inning, is in an area called the slips, which is essentially behind, and off to the side, of the batter. The bowler then tries to bowl the ball in such a way that the batter will try to hit it, but will not connect properly and will instead nick the ball lightly off the edge of the bat. Essentially, what the bowler is aiming for is similar to what we would call in baseball a "foul tip." But in cricket, a foul tip does not just result in a strike, as it usually does in baseball; if it is caught by the slips, it results in a wicket, an out. Here's a good example.

One final difference, alluded to in the previous paragraph when i said that slip fielders are used particularly in the early part of an inning, is that bowlers in cricket have to deal with inconsistencies that baseball pitchers never have to worry about, including in the ball itself. In baseball, the aim is to have the pitcher throw essentially an identical, new, clean, unmarked ball every time he pitches. In cricket, by contrast, the same ball is used for an extended period of time, and can only be replaced under very specific circumstances. In a test match, a ball is used for 80 overs (480 deliveries) before a new ball can be taken, and during that time the ball loses a considerable amount of its hardness and its shine, changing the way that it moves through the air and off the pitch. Bowlers have to adapt to these changes, which can (depending on the pitch, the weather conditions, and the type of bowlers on the team) quite dramatically shift the advantage between the batting and the bowling team.

[edit: that was basically copied and pasted from a post I made in a similar thread a few years back]

Last edited by mhendo; 08-30-2019 at 09:42 AM.