Your guide to combating Test cricket mansplaining

What the fuck is Test cricket and why is it so complicated?


What the fuck is Test cricket and why is it so complicated?

Test cricket is the format played in the Ashes Series—that incredibly long show each summer that invades Channel 7’s TV schedule. But beyond the beer snakes and the sculling, the Ashes Series began with an air of Brontë-like morbidity.

Whilst England and Australia had been playing Test cricket against each other since 1877, the Ashes Series only began in 1882. After Australia’s first win on English soil, a mock obituary was published by Reginald Shirley Brooks that mourned England’s loss to the tourists. He wrote that the “body of English cricket will be cremated, and the ashes taken to Australia”. In the years to come it would be England’s mission to regain the ashes of a burned bail, symbolically stored in a terracotta urn. And thus, England’s redemption arc began.

In the Ashes, there are five matches which can each last for five days. Within each match, four innings are played which sees teams alternate between batting and bowling. Each day entails approximately ninety overs with an over consisting of six balls. Test cricket is roughly a six-hour affair, allowing viewers plenty of time to determine whether they love or despise it.

Five hundred or so balls get bowled and so a deceivingly confusing scoring system is kept. On the left of your screen, you will see a weird equation like ‘2-53.’ The first number represents the wickets taken (i.e. dismissals of batsmen), whilst the second number represents the number of runs made. Additionally, on the right of your screen appears the bowler’s stats, with the same rule applying as before.

In the bowling sphere, there exists two camps—the quicks and the spinners. Quicks are fast bowlers, bowling the ball at paces over 125 kmph with long-striding run-ups. Spin bowlers are the nonchalant cool kids of the cricket world, often becoming cult figures with their incredibly expert flicks of the wrist. 

Finally, the way to score—something England struggled with in the most recent series—is by running between the wickets and hitting boundaries. The format of Test cricket means that run rates remain quite low per over, with batsmen often blocking rather than scoring. If you’re lucky however, you might see them running between the wickets when the ball is far enough from the pitch, or even scoring boundaries. When the ball touches the perimeter rope on the ground it is worth four runs, whereas a ball that travels over it is worth six.

The 21/22 series saw both the return of a fan-favourite and the making of one. Usman Khawaja marked his Ashes comeback with two stellar tons at the SCG. On debut, First Nations fast-bowler and winner of the Johnny Mullagh Medal, Scott Boland, recorded ‘6-7’ in the MCG Boxing Day Test.

In the most recent series, Australia retained the Ashes with a score of 4-0, much to the delight of Australian cricket enthusiasts. England’s redemption arc will have to wait.

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