Want to get into cricket? Maybe you’ve decided it looks like fun when watching some cricket on television. Maybe you’ve seen that local cricket clubs don’t require you to be an athlete to start playing, and want to rekindle your competitive streak.
Luckily, cricket is a really accessible sport. When I moved to a new area and wanted to join the local cricket club, their casting call for players said you had to be able to eat a lot of cake to join. Bonus.
In all seriousness, cricket is a great way to stay fit, a fantastic social sport, and whether you just want to watch with friends or you fancy yourself hitting a few sixes on a Saturday afternoon, our guide will help you to get into cricket.
Getting Into Cricket as a Spectator
This is a stage some of you might not need. You might already love watching cricket as a spectator. Alternatively, you might have seen a couple of matches and had your interest piqued.
If you want to test the waters, and see if cricket is really for you, we recommend getting yourself to a couple of games in person to see the spectacle. The ideal would be to attend a T20 game. T20, the shorter, more rapid-paced version of the game, is hugely popular and won’t take up as much of your time. Some local leagues play in this format, but we recommend visiting a T20 blast game if you possibly can. The atmosphere is bound to get you hooked.
If you’re interested in playing cricket at some stage, it won’t be like it is on the television, so it is a good idea to get yourself to a local game of village cricket. There is likely to be a lot of tea consumed, and a friendly atmosphere between friends and even competitors.
Other recommended viewing includes some excellent television and documentaries about the game, including:
- Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams – A BBC documentary series about encouraging reluctant children to play the game.
- The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team – An Amazon Prime documentary series following the Australia cricket team.
- The Edge (2019) – Following the England test team between 2009 and 2013, and some of the tales of both glory and frustration that came out of this era.
Let’s face it, cricket isn’t the easiest sport to understand. None of the rules are that complex on their own, but there are a lot of them.
Before you explore how to get into cricket properly, you will want to understand the rules.
We’ve put together some guides for you, including understanding the “no ball” and the different types of bowling in the sport.
If you’re dedicated and studious, there are some brilliant books. Wisden’s The Laws of Cricket is a great example. You can also while away an afternoon or seven reading the MCC’s site, which has a full section dedicated to the rules and laws of the game.
The best way to understand the rules, though, is to watch cricket. With so many nuanced, detailed rules and regulations, it is fair to say that not even every professional cricketer has read the rules or knows them inside out, and that’s okay. By watching cricket, you will get a good feel for the basic rules we all need to understand, such as the format of the game, what is allowed in bowling, how runs are counted, and how a batter gets given out.
If you can watch cricket with a friend who knows the rules, even better. Just make sure they don’t get too annoyed when you keep asking them what is going on.
If you’ve got 25 minutes, you can also watch this fantastic video, narrated by famous cricket fan Stephen Fry. It covers all of the basics excellently.
Another quick note about the rules. If you don’t understand them fully, don’t let this get in the way of going to a training session. Most cricket clubs are so friendly, and will be happy to help you out with your understanding of the rules of the game. It is actually a good way to learn quickly how the sport works.
Getting Into Cricket – Playing Cricket
So, you’ve decided that you want to play cricket. Fortunately, there are still loads of opportunities and thriving cricket clubs around the country, with games often played on a saturday.
One of the wonderful things about cricket is that you don’t have to be an amazing standard to play the game, and the physical demands at village cricket level aren’t particularly high. If you’re particularly fit, you’re likely to stand out in a village cricket environment.
You will need some equipment if you are going to start playing cricket. Unfortunately, this is one of the more prohibitive aspects of the game, especially if you feel like you need to buy the top-of-the-line gear that the current international cricketers are wearing.
If you go to a cricket superstore either online or in person, you’ll find yourself a bit intimidated by all of the kit.
Luckily, you don’t have to buy everything. If you’re going to go and train with a club, there is a chance you may be able to borrow some equipment here and there. Also, some of the protective equipment that the professionals wear is not required for every player.
The items seen as essential to most players are listed below. Once again, don’t let it put you off going to a practice session or to nets if you don’t have all this kit.
- A bat. Everyone in a cricket team has to bat at some stage. This is why it is a good idea to have your own bat. It’s also great to have a bat because you can organise impromptu practice sessions with your friends. Without the basic gear, this isn’t possible. Cricket bats can run upwards of £500. Fortunately, the Village Cricket Bat is an affordable alternative, that has a great pickup and doesn’t cost the earth.
- Balls. You don’t need loads in your personal collection, but a couple of balls means small group practice is possible.
- A helmet. This is another item that a club might have for you to borrow, but you will get a better fit (and have a more hygienic experience) if you are using your own. Playing with a hard cricket ball definitely requires you to wear a helmet.
- Gloves. Do you really need protective gloves? Well, if you’ve ever been hit on the knuckles by a cricket ball going 70 miles per hour, you will know that the answer is a resounding “yes”.
- Pads. There are a few types of pads and guards for cricket, but you will need quality batting pads to protect your shins and lower legs.
- Whites. Cricket whites are the basic clothing items you’ll wear, with trousers and a white polo top.
- Trainers/Spikes. Wearing trainers to practice sessions will likely be fine, but cricketers tend to wear spiked cricket shoes in a similar way to footballers wearing studded boots. It helps to gain traction and stay planted in the ground, preventing slips.
Most village cricket clubs know that all this can add up to an expensive hobby. Fortunately, there are often ways to share equipment and with our affordable bats, pads, and gloves, you can save some money purchasing your own cricket equipment.
Never played cricket before? It can be pretty intimidating to go to your first ever training session. A lot of people are worried that they are going to embarrass themselves with no prior knowledge whatsoever.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to start to build up a bit of technique, at least the very basics.
The guide below shows you some England cricketers taking you through really simple and basic drills that can be useful for building up your technique in the early stages of learning to play the game. If you have a friend or two who can go to a park into your garden with you (mind the windows) to run some drills, it will make a difference when you go to your first practice session.
Some techniques you can even practice completely on your own.
You may get a friend to come out and provide you with some “throwdowns” meaning that they throw the ball, often from closer than where a bowler would, towards your stumps (or where they would be) and this is a great way to practice your batting technique and reactions.
Finding a Club
Time to find a cricket club and get going? There are a few different approaches you can take to trying to find somewhere to play. You might be surprised at how many teams there are local to you.
The ECB’s “Find a Club” Feature
The ECB runs its own directory of cricket clubs. You can visit the site, and put in your postcode, to see which clubs are nearby and whether they have contact details on the site.
This is a great way to start playing cricket, and many of the clubs do have active accounts, but some don’t keep contact details updated, so it can take a little more to find your next team.
Our full guide to finding a cricket club will help. Social media groups are a brilliant place to ask the question, so if you are a member of any local groups, see if there are clubs actively recruiting. This is often best done in the springtime before the season gets underway.
Google is pretty good at helping you to find the clubs, too, and if you know there’s a local team that train at a certain time and place, don’t be afraid to turn up just to ask the question. Most are friendly bunches.
Conclusion – Getting Into Cricket
Luckily, it is easier than ever to get your hands on all the information you need to get into cricket, join a club, and start playing on the weekends. Nobody is saying you’re going to turn into the next cricketing superstar overnight, but it is a fun hobby for the weekends and a way to keep yourself fit and active.
Many village cricketers continue until old age, and there are even senior/veteran teams in some places, so you have no restriction on how long you can play the game for.
On the other end of the spectrum, children who have sparked an interest in the sport or had a go when at school can usually find great opportunities, including the All Stars Cricket scheme by the ECB.