Cricket: what is a "test match"? a "friendly"?

I’ve seen both these terms used in cricket discussions. What do they mean?

Plus, what’s “leg before wicket”?

(my knowledge of cricket is pretty much limited to extensive researches into P.G. Wodehouse, supplemented by Dorothy L. Sayers).

Test match is an up to 5-day match between two teams. Each side bats twice. Most runs win. This is differentiated from “limited over” cricket in which each side only sees a specified number of deliveries.

Friendly just means that there isn’t anything on the line. Soccer teams play friendly matches as well. Not playing for a league or cup but just for training/experience/fun.

Leg before wicket means that the bowler (think pitcher if you’re a baseball fan) has thrown the ball in such a way that, had the batter not blocked it with his pads, it would have hit the wicket (and thus been an out). So it hit the batter’s leg before it would have hit the wicket. You are not allowed to use your pads to protect your wicket - only the bat. LBW is one of the way to be put out in cricket.

More info for you.

There is no “world cup” of test match cricket but each of the cricketing nations arranges a series of tours to their opponents country. In some cases these are fairly ad-hoc but for the major teams they tend to follow a regular pattern over the years.
These normally last a few months and over that period they will play (normally) a best of three or best of five test match series (as well a series of limited over matches).
The tours alternate home and away. Not all of these test match series have specific names but one that does is called “The Ashes” and that is played between England and Australia. The most recent series was in Australia 2010-11 (we won…hurrah!) and they will come here next summer to try and win them back (it is so sweet to type that!). Here’s a little clip which might explain things a little better for you. :wink:

As I said, there is no overall championship for test cricket but each series stands alone with some carrying more significance than others. However the results of the matches do contribute to an overall I.C.C. ranking (which sees England as the top test team…ooooo! that was quite nice to type as well)

I love all types of cricket but test matches are the pinnacle for me. I liken the short form of the game to wonderfully written magazine article whereas a test match unfolds like a fine novel and is one of the few games where the fight for a draw can be as gripping as a thumping victory.

It seems like every time I hear about a “test match” it’s some sort of international competition. But, I gather from the responses above that “test match” refers to the rules of the game, not to the international aspect. Do teams compete domestically in test matches? If not, how do you choose your national test-match team? Are the skills transferable from other cricket formats?

Why not? Wouldn’t it be a huge money-maker?

Given that matches last up to five days a world cup of Test cricket would last forever and a day. Besides, there’s a world cup of one-day cricket. The world cup also allows in some teams from outside the ten Test-playing nations (England, the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), like Canada, Holland, Namibia, and so on.

LBW is actually considerably more complicated than Jas09 makes out.

The two are pretty much indivisible. domestic teams (in the UK at least) do have a league of the 4-day form of the game which is similar to test cricket but 5-day tests are pretty much an international affair.

Normally those that excel at the 4-day game are likely to be chosen but…

There are exceptions, test matches under certain conditions may demand a different balance of skills and may see a specific skill-set brought in (a spinner perhaps)

In general there are some players who aren’t suited to the long form, some ill-suited to the short form but quite a lot who are adaptable to all forms.

This is a whole other thread in itself though.

Time. Any tournament worthy of the name would have to have a three match series as the finale at least, that would take at least three weeks and to whittle the rest down to a reasonable number before that would take a couple of months.
Plus you have the logistics of preparing enough pitches within a single country and it starts to look unwieldy.

With the rankings at least you do get some sort of “play-off” should you happen to have the two top teams playing, not the same thing of course but I really don’t see a full blown “test world cup” happening any time soon.

Test match is between one of the 10 teams with test status (Australia, England, SA, NZ, West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh). Each team bats twice* and the one who scores the most cumulative runs (and who has dismissed the other side twice, meaning gotten 10 batsmen out twice) wins. Test matches are the pinnacle of the sport. They last 5 days and frankly it does not get any better.

Yes, it certainly is. But I figured he just wanted the gist of it. He can see it in it’s entire glory here:,62,AR.html

Of course that probably has even more unknown terms… “no ball”, “full pitch”, “off side” .

That’s the key point - they’ve got to be between two test-match teams and the tests have to be sanctioned by the ICC. I think a few years back India and Pakistan played a match that wasn’t sanctioned so it wasn’t a ‘test’ per se.

There actually is a world cup-style tournament for tests - it just hasn’t been held yet. Before that there were methods of determining ‘champions’. The current favourite is the Test Championship, but my favourite was always the ‘heavyweight championship’ - by winning the first test match, Australia was ‘awarded’ the title, which would then change hands whenever a ‘challenger’ would beat the ‘champion’ in a series. Before it was bought by the Americans, Cricinfo used to keep tabs on who had the ‘belt’, but it’s a few years since I’ve seen it.

“Test Match” refers to both the fact that it is between national sides and the format. The term “test match” has been used in other sports as well for international competition, but it is most closely associated with cricket.

I think the main problem is, the concept of a “draw”. Cricket is probably the only sport where “draw” and “tie” are not synonyms. A “tie” is when both teams finish their turns at bat and the scores are the same; a “draw” is when the pre-arranged time limit (e.g. five days) runs out before the match is finished.

What happens if a final, or a semi-final, is a draw? Do you make up some arbitrary method to decide a winner? At some point, it’s just “not cricket.” :rolleyes:

The proposed test championship is expected to have two round-robin pools with a single final to be played under “timeless test” rules. Although the last timeless test was in '39 (and ended up having to be agreed a draw because the visitors had to catch a boat home after twelve days of play between periods of rain), the timeless test is a long-established variant of the game.

In the round-robin matches, I have no doubt that the points system will be set to encourage attacking play and results in the same way that first-class tournaments (Sheffield Shield, county championships, etc.) give more points for a match with a result than one where there’s a draw.

OK, so each team has 10 batters. An “inning” (to steal a baseball term) is 10 outs and there are 2 innings. How long does an at-bat last? Seems like there’s no reason this should take 5 days, and from the sounds of it it usually does. Is it that difficult to make an out?

Essentially, yes. It is not uncommon for an “at bat”, to use your term (confusingly, this is also referred to as an “innings” in cricket terminology) to last several hours and many hundreds of balls (pitches). I’m not sure what the world record for time at the crease in one innings is, but the world record cricket score (in first-class, i.e. “major league” matches) is 501 - this was just for one player, Brian Lara, and it took about 2 full days. Not only that, he was still not out at the end of it! I guess that’s the equivalent of a batter not getting out for about a hundred pitches in a row - yes, it is much more difficult to get out in cricket than in baseball. This is for a number of reasons, chief among which I suspect is that a “swing and a miss” is not necessarily a problem in cricket, whereas this is always a strike in baseball. This in turn is because the target (the stumps) is harder to hit in cricket than hitting the strike zone in baseball.

Also, a batsman in cricket is never required to run. Unlike in baseball, where a ground ball that goes straight to an infielder is an almost certain out because the batter must attempt to reach first base, if a cricketer hits the ball in the same fashion, he will simply stay put, and his time at bat continues.

11 “batsmen”. But they have to bat in pairs. The one who’s batting at the moment is called the ‘striker’ and the other one is the ‘non-striker’. A run is scored by running the length of the pitch, so if a player scores an odd number of runs from a ball the batsmen will change ends - the non-striker becoming the striker and vice versa. At the end of each six-ball over, the fielders will swing around to bowl from the opposite end, which also means they’re bowling at the other batsman.

A rounders term, actually, but it’s used in cricket as well.

That’s right - one of the batsmen will be “not out”, having run out of partners.

Historically, somewhere between one ball and three days. There’s an old story that once in the '30s, Don Bradman had batted for 2 1/2 days, and the afternoon papers didn’t need to announce who they were talking about when the headline simply read “HE’S OUT!”.

It is - things aren’t weighted nearly as much in favour of the bowler as they are in the pitcher’s favour in baseball - a much larger (360 degree) field to guard, a flat-faced bat, no ‘strike’ system to make people play, no obligation to run on a poor or mishit shot, the fact that the ball will be bouncing, and therefore come on to the bat more slowly…

Also there’s the fact that rain or poor light will often eat into those five days (it’s rare for a match to be abandoned without any play, but every so often it’ll be clear to both teams that across the five days they’ll get about 1 1/2 days’ play), and in all about 1/3-1/2 of all games will end in draws. More defensive teams will usually generate more draws than ‘results’, more aggressive teams will win or lose more often.

And, of course, there’s the conditions. In India and Pakistan, the slow and dusty pitches play in favour of batsmen, leading to more draws and fewer results.

I was fascinated by this topic, I love cricket and over 30 odd years have come to know most of the rules. I have also been lucky enough to watch a baseball game in the USA. I loved the 7th Innings Stretch, unfortunately the team I was rooting for lost but I will never put down baseball again. BTW I know why you have a World Cup when only America is involved :slight_smile:

What is the primary rules difference that makes test matches last so much longer? It sounds like both versions are ten outs to an innings and two innings to a game. I’ve watched a little of the short-form version on TV, and it was more difficult to retire a batter than in baseball, but not inordinately so. Is it even harder to retire a batter in a test match?

The shorter versions of the game are limited by the number of balls that are bowled (measured in “overs”, sequences of six balls bowled from one end by the same bowler). This form of the game is called “limited overs cricket”. In one-day games, each side will have just one innings, with a maximum number of overs, such as 50.
Test matches, and first class matches at the county level, are limited by time, not overs.


In limited overs cricket the onus is to score with most of the balls that come at you - as the whole team only has say 50 overs of 6 legally bowled balls each = 300 hundred deliveries. A team score of around 250 to 280 from those 300 deliveries is maybe around par.

In a test match, if you don’t get out you cannot lose the match so the incentive is to retain your wicket and put together partnerships whereby the two players currently batting, together, score heavily. This is the key to winning Test Matches as with time, those players get their eye in and will be completely comfortable with the ptich, the conditions etc and will have seen everything the bowlers have in their lockers to try and get them out. At that stage they can quickly put a lot of runs on quickly and put their side in a position to win the game.

They could of course fail to bowl them all out, whilst the batting side would not get close to scoring enough to win before the game ends after 5 days. Then it would be a draw.
So in Test Matches, the side batting first might put on say 650 runs, then bowl out the opponents cheaply for say 200 (they will have been running around fielding for say two and a half days, be ground down in morale knowing they cannot now win - only draw at best - plus as time goes on the pitch deteriorates making batting more difficult).

Then side on top could decline to bat again and bowl them out again (scoring more than 350 is rare in the last innings on a very worn pitch) to win by say 100 clear runs.

If they failed to bowl them out before the fifth day ends, and the batting side fails to score the target number of runs, it would end in a draw. One-day limited overs matches only end in a draw if the scores are tied.

And just to add to everyone else’s comments, the reason a ‘test match’ is so called is because it is regarded as, literally, the ultimate test in the game. So it is by no means a ‘friendly’.