A Beginner’s Guide to the Formats of Cricket and the International Game


Cricket is one of the oldest sports in the world, crossing continents and drawing billions of viewers to its many formats and competitions. Over the last 50 years, the traditional form of the sport has evolved into other iterations of play, bringing out different qualities in the athletes that compete on the field.

While this does diversify the sport and create a form of entertainment that can appeal to a broader audience and variety of preferences, it can become confusing to newcomers and even those who know the sport well but have generally stuck to one format. Even this year, another new form of cricket looks to break into the mainstream and could potentially make it to the international ranks.

So, here’s what you need to know about each form of cricket and the colossal international competitions that draw in fans from around the world.

The four forms of professional cricket

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The only place to start when discussing the forms of cricket is Test cricket. The original form of the game has been played since 1877, with it being refined to a five-day set with two innings for each team. Due to the length of the game and how trying it is physically and mentally on both teams, Test cricket is still considered to be the pinnacle of the sport.

Tests begin with a coin flip to decide who will bat first. The first batting team tries to set a high run score before the attacking team can bowl out ten wickets or the defenders declare. Then, the two sides will swap, with those who bowled and fielded first coming in to bat. They need to chase that run score set and try to exceed it, with their ten wickets marking the end of the first innings. After this, a second innings is played, with it all needing to take place within a set five-day window.

Test cricket is now also referred to as ‘long-form cricket’ because, since the 1970s, a shorter form of the game has risen to prominence. In 1971, one-day cricket began, with each team having a limited number of overs that could be bowled, with the cap set at 50 for each team. So, the batsmen only have a maximum of 300 balls to strike runs off of – excluding wides and fouls – and the bowling side only has 300 balls to get ten wickets.

The 50-overs format added more urgency to the game, revamping a stamina and concentration-driven sport to one where speed, technique, and flair could shine. Stalwart Test players still had a home in one-day cricket, but it also opened the door to those who were technically gifted, but perhaps not as capable of doing a five-day stint.

In 2007, the shortest currently internationally recognized form of cricket began, with Twenty20 (T20) putting even more emphasis on high-scoring batsmen and aggressive bowlers. It proved to be a tremendous hit, and now, an even shorter domestic competition looks to take root. The Hundred gives each team 100 balls to score off of, which equates to just over 16 standard overs.

International competitions drive the sport

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As popular and money-infused as many of the domestic leagues have become, particularly in the case of the Indian Premier League, the sport greatly revolves around the international calendar. In a sport like football, international contests are spread out over a four-year cycle, being somewhat complementary to the domestic game. In cricket, internationals supersede the domestic games, often taking place at the same time.

Prestige drives cricket, and now there are three official and highly-respected World Cup tournaments to cover each form of the sport. They drive fans, engagement, and cricket bettors who attempt to predict game and tournament winners. Regardless of the form of cricket in play, the tips for using Cricket betting sites remain consistent throughout. The top cricket betting tips invariably include checking the weather forecast, waiting for the result of the toss, and reviewing the line-ups. That said, finding the best odds is also top of the agenda.

It’s these international contests that draw in the huge crowds of fans, with the oldest form of cricket only recently adopting a proper world cup format. Once predominantly contested in ICC rankings, there’s now the ICC World Test Championship, which takes place over a two-year window and concludes its inaugural contest in 2021. That said, one of the most raved-about Test competitions is still The Ashes, which sees England and Australia battle each other every couple of years.

The short forms of cricket lend themselves more naturally to the world cup format, with games wrapping up within a day each. The first is the Cricket World Cup, the one-day form of the game contest by the top short-form cricket nations in the world. It started in 1975 in England, but it took until the most recent edition for England to win the tournament. There’s also the T20 World Cup, which started in 2007 as an even more high-impact addition to the international calendar.

If The Hundred proves to be a success over the next couple of years, it could also join the recognised ranks of international cricket formats. For now, there are three mainstream forms and three major prestigious international titles to win, with many other rivalry trophies and domestic tournaments taking place, too.


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