In most subfamilies the males have song-producing, or stridulatory, organs on the front wings. Both sexes possess auditory organs on the forelegs. The stridulatory apparatus is most highly developed in the field crickets and the tree crickets. Members of these subfamilies have a ridged region, which acts as a file, and a hardened region, which acts as a scraper, on each front wing; sound is produced by rubbing the wings together.
Crickets reproduce sexually, producing from one to three generations per year. The females usually lay eggs in the ground or in soft-stemmed plants during the late summer or fall. The eggs hatch in the spring and the emerging young are similar to the adults except for their smaller size and lack of wings.
Crickets occur mostly in the temperate climates. The common field crickets of the United States are species of the genus Gryllus; all are brown to black, about 1 in. (2.5 cm) long, and are found in fields and meadows and often in houses. The tree crickets are slender, pale green or whitish insects of trees and shrubs; most U.S. species belong to the genus Oecanthus. The rate of chirping of tree crickets increases with increasing temperature. In the snowy tree cricket, Oecanthus fultoni, this variation is so regular that if the number 40 is added to the number of chirps per 15-sec interval, the sum is a fair approximation of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. Ant-loving crickets are tiny wingless forms 1/8 in. to 1/5 in. (3-5 mm) long that occur in ant nests, where they feed on an oily secretion produced by the ants.
In addition to the true crickets of the family Gryllidae, insects of the family Gryllacrididae are also called crickets. These are the cave, or camel, crickets, found throughout the world in dark, moist places, and the stone, sand, or Jerusalem crickets of W North America, found under stones in sandy soil. Mole crickets (genus Gryllotalpa, family Gryllotalpidae) are nocturnal insects that have strong front legs adapted for digging and burrowing rather than strong hind legs for jumping. They live in moist soil. All crickets belong to the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Orthoptera.
Cricket is played by two teams of eleven on a level, closely cut oval "pitch" preferably measuring about 525 ft (160 m) by about 550 ft (170 m). Two wickets are placed 66 ft (20.12 m) apart near the middle of the field. A wicket consists of two wooden crosspieces (bails) resting on three wooden stumps 28 in. (71.1 cm) high.
At each wicket stands a batsman. If the opposing bowler, delivering the ball from near the opposing wicket, knocks down the bails of the batsman's wicket, the batsman is retired. In delivering the hard, leather-covered ball, the bowler throws overarm but may not bend the arm, and the ball usually approaches the batsman on one bounce. After six bowls to one batsman, an umpire (there is one at each wicket) calls "over," and another bowler begins bowling to the batsman's partner at the opposing wicket. The players in the field shift position according to the batsmen.
If the batsman hits the ball with his willow paddle-shaped bat far enough so that both batsmen may run to exchange places, a run is scored. When the ball is hit a long distance (in any direction, since there are no foul lines), up to four exchanges or runs may be made. (If the ball crosses the boundary of the field on the ground, four runs are scored automatically; if it clears the boundary in the air, six are scored.) However, if the opposing team recovers the ball and uses it to knock down the bails of a wicket before the batsman reaches it, the batsman is out. A batsman is also retired if an opposing fielder catches a batted ball on the fly (as in baseball), or for any of several more technical reasons. An outstanding turn at bat may result in more than 100 runs, a "century."
A game usually consists of two innings; in one innings all players on each team bat once in a fixed order (unless a team, having scored what it considers runs adequate to win, chooses to retire without completing its order); a game may take several days to complete. Substitutions are allowed only for serious injury.
Cricket's origin is obscure. Evidence suggests it was played in England in the 12th-13th cent., and it was popular there by the end of the 17th cent. By the mid-18th cent. the aristocracy had adopted the game. In 1744 the London Cricket Club produced what are recognizably the rules of modern cricket. The Marylebone Cricket Club, one of the oldest (1787) cricket organizations, is the game's international governing body.
In Great Britain the principal cricket matches are those between the universities (especially Oxford and Cambridge) and between largely professional teams representing the English counties. Among international, or test, matches (begun 1877), the most famous is that between Australia and Britain for the "Ashes." Since the 1970s the West Indies (a team assembled from several nations), India, Pakistan, and South Africa have challenged English and Australian claims to world dominance.
In the early 21st cent., Twenty20, a new version of cricket with a much faster, more compressed format, emerged in India. A typical Twenty20 game lasts about three hours, in contrast to the regular cricket's customary five-day test match. Twenty20 is played by a much younger and fitter group of cricketers, whose vigorous athleticism is also in sharp contrast to the play of the older, traditional players. In 2007, 27 games were played by 12 countries in the first Twenty20 world tournament.
See Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (1864-); R. Bowen, Cricket (1970); J. Ford, Cricket (1972).
The flipper is bowled on the opposite side to a slider, much in the same way that the top-spinner is bowled. On release, the bowler 'pinches' or clicks the thumb and forefinger, causing the ball to come out underneath the hand. There must sufficient tension in the wrist and fingers to impart a good helping of backspin or underspin. In doing so the flipper will float on towards the batsman and land on a fuller length than he anticipated, often leaving him caught on the back foot when he wrongly assumes it to be a pullable or a cuttable ball. The back spin or underspin will cause the ball to hurry on at great pace with very little bounce, though this may be harder to achieve on softer wickets. A series of normal leg spinners or topspinners, with their dropping looping flight, will have the batsman used to the ball pitching on a shorter length. The batsman may wrongly assume that the flipper will drop and loop like a normal overspinning delivery, resulting in the ball pitching under the bat and going on to either hit the stumps or result in leg before wicket.
Much of the effectiveness of the flipper is attributable to the "pop"—that is, the extra pace and change in trajectory that is imparted to the ball when it is squeezed out of the bowler's hand.
Occasionally, the term 'flipper' has been used to describe other types of deliveries. The Australian leg spinner Bob Holland employed a back spinning ball that he simply pushed backwards with the heel of his palm. Sometimes this form of front-hand flipper is called a "zooter". It is easier to bowl but not as effective as the amount of backspin is much less.
The flipper was the signature delivery of the Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne in his earlier years, until injury and later shoulder surgery restricted his ability to bowl flippers accurately. Like the googly, it may become more difficult to bowl as a bowler ages due to the flexibility and suppleness it demands from the bowler's wrist.
It is difficult to disguise the flipper entirely when bowling, as the hand action is distinctly different from a leg break. When Clarie Grimmett first began bowling the delivery, batsmen would listen for the telltale clicking sound of his fingers; to compensate, Grimmett would often click the fingers of his non-bowling hand when not bowling the flipper to confuse the batsman. Sachin Tendulkar is known to be a good reader of flippers out of the hand of the bowler. He was seldom troubled by Warne's flipper.