Baseball and cricket at the professional level are the best-known members of a family of related bat-and-ball games. While many of their rules, terminology, and strategies are similar, there are many differences—some subtle, some major—between the two games.
Other present-day bat-and-ball games include softball, stickball, rounders, pesäpallo or Finnish baseball, punchball, kickball and British baseball, which has similarities with both cricket and baseball. Earlier forms include the "Massachusetts Game" of baseball, which was similar to rounders, and one old cat and two old cat.
Bat-and-ball games, in general, are sports in which one team (the fielding team) has possession of the ball and delivers it to a member of the other team (the batting team), who tries to hit it. The two opposing teams take turns playing these two distinct roles, which are continuous during a specified interval. This contrasts with "goal-oriented" games, such as all forms of football, hockey and basketball, in which possession of the ball or puck can change in an instant, and thus the "attackers" and the "defenders" frequently reverse roles during the course of the game.
In both cricket and baseball, the players of one team attempt to score points known as runs by hitting a ball with a bat, while the members of the other team field the ball in an attempt to prevent scoring and to put batting players out.
In both games, there is a "defensive" aspect to the batting team concurrent with its "offensive" or "attacking" aspect of trying to score runs. In cricket, the batsman is attempting to defend the wicket. In baseball, the batter is attempting to defend the strike zone.
Once a certain number of batting players are out (different in the two sports), the teams swap roles. This sequence of each team taking each role once is called an inning in baseball, and an innings in cricket (the singular form having a terminal 's'). The single/plural usage in cricket is comparable to the baseball slang term for a single inning as the team's "ups". A baseball game consists of nine innings, while a cricket match may have either one or two innings per team.
Despite their similarities, the two sports also have many differences in play and in strategy. A comparison between cricket and baseball can be instructive to followers of either sport, since the similarities help to highlight nuances particular to each game.
In cricket, the wicket stumps and the bowling creases are 66 feet apart. The popping creases are 4 ft (1.22 m) in front of the stumps and thus are 58 feet apart. The bowler's release point could be perhaps 1 foot beyond his popping crease. The batsman tends to "take guard" or "block" on the popping crease, i.e. he stands 4 ft (1.22 m) in front of his stumps. That nets to a typical distances of about 57 feet between delivery point and bat. In baseball, the pitcher's release point could be about 55 feet depending on his delivery style, but the batter also tends to stand back or "deep" in the batter's box, to maximize his time to "look the ball over", up to 2 feet farther from the pitching rubber than the point of home plate is. Thus the delivery distance, from release of the ball by the pitcher/bowler to its arrival at the batter/batsman, is similar in both sports.
Baseball games have far lower scores than cricket matches. The largest combined runs total in a single game in the history of Major League Baseball is 49, whereas first-class cricket matches, including Tests, have produced combined totals from both innings of over a thousand runs.
For a more direct comparison, matches in Twenty20 cricket, a form of limited overs cricket in which games last about as long in time as a regulation baseball game, regularly produce combined run totals of 250 or more, with the all-time record being 443. Each run in a baseball game is roughly seventy-five times the magnitude of a run in a Test cricket match; therefore moments of poor pitching (akin to bowling in cricket) and individual fielding mistakes are much more costly. A player who is a good batter, but who is not a competent fielder, will not play regularly, or only in the designated hitter position in leagues that use it.
Baseball players must often throw immediately after catching the struck ball (for example, the double play), while this is unnecessary in cricket as the ball is deeemed "dead" when an "dismissal" takes place.
Another major difference between the two sports is that the fielders in cricket are not allowed to use any sort of protection for the hands – padded or otherwise, even though the balls are of similar hardness. The only exception to this rule in cricket is made for the wicket-keeper, who is allowed to wear padded gloves as well as leg guards, and of course a box. In baseball, catchers and first basemen normally wear mitts, which have no fingers and are specially designed for each position respectively. The other fielders wear gloves (which have fingers). Early baseball was also played bare-handed; gloves were adopted in the latter 19th Century.
Body contact between runner and fielder is frequent in baseball, particularly at home plate. This is driven to a large extent by the manner in which a runner is put out. In both sports, rules prohibit interfering with runners. However, in baseball, the runner himself (or the base he is advancing to, if forced) must be tagged by a fielder holding the ball, in order to be put out. The catcher awaiting a throw will often stand between the plate and the runner. Once he catches it, the runner might try to go around the catcher, or he might simply bowl the catcher over, if he thinks he can dislodge the ball by such contact; and if the catcher does not have the ball, the runner may still bowl the catcher over, which is considered fair because by rule a fielder without a ball cannot impede a runner. By contrast, in cricket, an out is made by the ball dislodging the bails from the stumps. The stumps are the target for "tagging" rather than the runner. No contact of the runners is either necessary or allowed. Contact between opposing sides is rare, and a matter for embarrassment and finger pointing. The inherently more violent sport of baseball was once even more so, as before the Knickerbocker Rules, it was permitted in some versions of the game to literally "throw out" a runner by hitting him (or "soaking" him) with a thrown ball (in lieu of hitting a base or stake that would equate to cricket's wickets). This rule still exists in some versions of the baseball variant called kickball, which is played with a soccer ball and thus is much less injurious. Kickball also calls for literal "bowling" of the ball, underhand, as with the old rules of both cricket and baseball.
Because the cricket bat is wide and flat, while the baseball bat is narrow and round, on the whole cricket batsmen find it easier to hit and direct the ball than baseball batters. While bowlers can influence the ability of the batsmen to do so, perhaps the most famous episode being the now-banned Bodyline tactic, cricket batsmen are able to use a wider variety of batting strokes to direct the ball in many directions into a field which provides much more open space than in baseball. In addition, cricket batsmen are under no obligation to attempt to score a run after any stroke, but must strike balls in order to prevent them from hitting the wicket. Many strokes are in fact defensive in nature against a well-bowled ball. Finally, cricket fielders play barehanded, which limits to some extent their ability to catch balls and dismiss batsmen. For example, some balls will be beyond their reach when similar balls can be caught by baseball fielders wearing large gloves which extend their reach. Similarly, barehanded fielding allows less room for error.
By contrast, the balance of power is largely reversed in baseball. While particularly skilled batters have some ability to place hit and direct the ball to desired locations, the pitcher's influence is much more dramatic. Pitchers induce more ground outs, fly outs, or strikeouts, depending on the style of pitch. Thus particular pitchers are known for causing batters to make certain kinds of outs, depending on their mastered pitches. Also, in contrast to cricket, baseball batters must attempt to take first base on any ball put into fair territory, and failing to do so will result in an out, but the size of the strike zone more strictly limits the set of deliveries that must be swung at compared to cricket. Like cricket, baseball batters do have a defensive tactic available; many batters will often attempt to deliberately foul off pitches that are strikes yet difficult to hit well, by hitting them into foul territory, awaiting an easier delivery later in the at-bat. Since an uncaught foul ball cannot be a third strike (unless it was a bunt attempt), this tactic allows the batter to receive more pitches.
In the early generations of baseball, the emphasis was mostly on bat control, place hitting, bunting, etc. Starting in 1919, several factors resulted in a dramatic change in strategic direction, from "small ball" to the "power game": a "livelier" ball, because of better materials and a tighter weave; more frequent substitutions of new balls; lighter, more flexible bats; the outlawing of the spitball; and the increase in attendance which drove owners to build more outfield seating, thus reducing the outfield area significantly. The power game has been encouraged further in recent years, by the construction of new ballparks with smaller outfields than previously, and even the reduction of field size at "classic" ballparks known for spacious outfields; for example, the distance to the fence in deep left field at Yankee Stadium was reduced from 430 feet to 399 feet between 1984 and 1988.
The games emphasize power hitting to different degrees. Cricket requires the accumulation of large numbers of runs, so placement of the ball between the fielders produces runs quickly and is a better strategy than "swinging for sixes". In baseball, it is power hitting that produces runs more quickly and frequently, forcing pitching changes and other fielding moves. Teams that rely more on "manufacturing runs" or "small ball" typically score fewer runs in a game, and require a superior pitching staff in order to quell opponents who emphasize the power game more. But game situations can compel changes in strategy. The final play of the 2001 World Series was a bloop single to drive in the winning run. Batter Luis Gonzalez stated in the Series DVD commentary that he choked up on the bat and went for a single, a small ball strategy with a much greater likelihood of success than "swinging for the fences".
Cricket bowlers, since they are not restricted to a small strike zone as their target, also use a wide variety of approaches which are not available to baseball pitchers. These involve varying the line and length of deliveries and using unpredictable movement caused by the ball bouncing on the pitch before it reaches the batsman. Baseball pitchers, by contrast, must use changes in ball speed and movement caused only by air friction and spin to deceive batters, as most pitches which come near touching the ground are ineffectively allowed to pass as balls. Furthermore, pitchers must begin their throw from a stationary position, while bowlers may run up to their delivery. (In the early days of baseball, the pitcher pitched from anywhere within a "box" and so had more flexibility as to where to stand when releasing the ball, before the 1880s.) Baseball pitchers also throw from an elevated mound (10 inches/25.4 cm above the level of home plate), while cricket bowlers are at the same height as the batsman and must bowl with an overarm rotation of the arm during which the arm must be kept straight. (This was also a restriction on pitchers in the early days of baseball, abolished in the 1880s.) Despite the differences in delivery action, the delivery speeds are similar for both sports with the fastest bowlers and pitchers propelling the ball in the region of -: the fastest recorded cricket delivery is with baseball's record marginally quicker at .
One main difference however is that the ball in cricket is harder and heavier in weight. The legal weight for the ball in baseball is not to be under 5 ounces but never to be over 5 and a 1/4 ounces. The ball in cricket must weigh between 5.5 ounces to 5.8 ounces.
Cricket's bowlers are grouped into different categories based on their bowling style—pacemen, seamers, off-spinners (or finger-spinners), leg-spinners (or wrist-spinners)—though a bowler may fall into more than one category (pace and seam bowling, for instance, largely overlap). Baseball's pitchers are grouped primarily by their throwing hand (left or right) and their usual role in games (a starting pitcher begins a game and usually pitches five or more innings, while a relief pitcher enters later in a game and usually pitches fewer innings, and some even specialize further strictly as closers brought in for the final one or two innings of a game); they are sometimes secondarily grouped according to pitching style, type of pitch most often used, or velocity. However, there are many different variations on how the pitch is actually delivered, this includes the conventional overhand and 3/4 styles as well as the less common sidearm and submarine deliveries.
In addition, if a baseball batter is struck with a pitch, he is awarded first base; "hitting" the batter includes hitting loose parts of his uniform without hitting his body (baseball rules specify that a player's person includes his uniform and equipment). Pitchers may throw close to the batters, and a "brushback" is often used as an intimidation tactic. Deliberately hitting a batter is fairly uncommon, however, chiefly because it is punished severely. If the umpire believes a batter was intentionally hit, the umpire has his discretion on a first offense to warn both benches that the pitcher for either team will be expelled from the game if there are any further hit batsmen (the one baseball term in which "batsman" is used). The warning—and the power to expel if it is contravened—is intended not only to protect batters but to avert fighting; being hit by a fastball is taken seriously by batters, and bench-clearing brawls occasionally result when one team decides the other is deliberately throwing at its batters.
In cricket, bowlers consider the right to hit batsmen as part of their armoury; indeed, one of the most common methods of dismissal (leg before wicket) requires the bowler to hit the batsman's body rather than his bat. A fast bowler will punctuate his overs with deliveries intended to bounce up toward the batsmen's head, either to induce a poor shot from self-defence, or to intimidate the batsmen, making him less likely to play forward to the next few deliveries for fear of injury. These tactics have long been an accepted part of cricket. In the modern game, batsmen usually wear helmets and heavy padding, so that being struck by the ball only rarely results in significant injury—though it is nevertheless often painful, sometimes causing concussion. Baseball batters wear helmets, but they are unsecured and lack the "cage". Catchers typically wear a helmet with a cage or protective bars. An equivalent ball to striking the batter in baseball would be a beamer, where the ball hits the batman's upper body area without bouncing first. These are extremely rare and usually caused by the ball slipping out of the top of the bowler's hand. The even rarer intentional beamer provokes a pretty strong reaction from batsman and crowd alike.
There is a major difference in the way in which different bowlers or pitchers contribute to a single game. In baseball, a single pitcher starts the game, and makes every pitch until a point where the coach replaces the tiring pitcher with a relief pitcher. Replaced pitchers cannot return to pitch again in the same game (unless they are shuttled to another position in the field and thus stay in the lineup, a move rarely done in the major leagues), and a succession of pitchers may come into the game in sequence until it ends. In cricket, multiple bowlers begin the game, with those not actively bowling spending time as fielders. Bowlers alternate bowling overs of six balls each, moving to fielding positions to rest before returning to bowl again later in the game. Although moving a pitcher to a fielding position and returning him to pitch later in the game is legal in baseball, it is a rarely used and potentially risky strategy, as the pitcher may be unprepared to play another position.
The terms "bowling" and "pitching", as words, both denote underarm deliveries, as were once required in both games. The rules for delivery were also initially very similar. Once overhand deliveries were permitted in the respective sports, and pitchers were compelled to toe the pitching rubber instead of throwing from anywhere within the "pitcher's box", the actions of bowling and pitching diverged significantly.
The "wide" in cricket and the "ball" in baseball both derive from the concept of a "fair" delivery, i.e. a delivery that the batter or batsman has a fair chance of making contact with his bat. While there is no sharply defined "strike zone" in cricket as there is in baseball, in both cases the umpire must judge whether the ball was delivered fairly. Both the "wide" and the "ball" result in a "penalty". In cricket, a single run is charged. In baseball, a ball is called, and if a pitcher gives up four balls the batter is awarded first base. In extreme circumstances, a wide or ball could lead to a cricket match or baseball game respectively being decided.
Running plays a much larger role in baseball because of the low scoring, because runners may remain in play (that is, on the bases) without scoring, and because baserunners can advance to the next base before the ball is hit again (steal the base) as soon as the ball is live. Base stealing often requires sliding, in which the runner throws himself to the ground to avoid both being tagged and overrunning the base. The runner may also deliberately slide into the fielder at the base he is trying to steal to keep him from catching the ball or to disrupt a double play. At home plate the runner often will simply, and legally, run into a catcher who is blocking the baseline but who does not have the ball (a defensive player may not impede the runner unless he has the ball or is in the process of catching it).
The equivalent in cricket is almost impossible because the bowler is next to the runner, and in fact used to be able to mankad him if he strayed out of his crease; nowadays the batsman can leave the crease when the bowler's back foot touches the ground during his delivery action without risk of being 'Mankaded'. Tactical running in cricket rarely strays beyond the consideration of "can I make it to the other end before the ball does", while in baseball, steals, sacrificial running, forces, double plays, intimidation, and physical contact enter into the equation.
Making contact with a fielder, as baserunners often do, would be unsportsmanlike in cricket, and unnecessary, as play stops when a single wicket is taken. Occasionally a cricket runner will dive over the crease, but in baseball this is a regular occurrence, as players are frequently forced to run even when their chances are slim.
Since a team almost always scores fewer runs in a baseball game than its number of outs (indeed, it will have fewer runners than its number of outs), a baserunner will frequently take risks attempting to advance an extra base or score a run, resulting in close plays at a base. In cricket, since the number of runs scored is much greater than the number of wickets taken in a match, a batsman would be very foolish to risk getting run out in an attempt to score an extra run without a very high expected chance of success.
A wide array of factors affect both games (from composition of the pitch or field soil to weather conditions, wind, and moisture) and numerous strategies in both games can be employed to exploit these different factors. Other than the bowler, cricket places very few restrictions on fielding placement, even for the wicket-keeper, and its variety of bowling styles, 360 degrees of open field, wide bowling area (target zone), and so on provide for strategic play. One notable exception would be the limit of two fielders in the leg side quadrant, introduced to prevent the use of Bodyline tactics. Baseball has very specific rules about the positions of the pitcher and the catcher at the start of each play. The positioning of the other seven fielders is as flexible as cricket, except that each one must start the play positioned in fair territory. The fielders are otherwise free to position themselves anywhere on the playing field, at their discretion based on the game situation.
In baseball, the "home" team always bats last. This was not originally the case. In the early years, the winner of a coin toss could decide whether to bat first or last. The more offense-oriented aspect of the early game might influence a team's decision to bat first and hope to get a quick lead. This led to the occasional unfortunate situation where the home town crowd would have to watch their team lose a game in the last of the ninth inning, in "sudden victory" fashion by the visiting team. By the late 1800s, the rule was changed to compel the home team to bat last. At a "neutral" site, such as the College World Series, the "home" team may be decided by coin toss, but that "home" team must bat last.
In baseball, though only the positions of pitcher and catcher are prescribed by the rules, fielders' positions are dictated closely by custom, and shifts in fielders' positions according to circumstance are less dramatic; the strike zone and smaller angle of fair territory limit the usefulness of some strategies which cricket makes available to batsmen. The chief occasion on which fielding placement differs markedly from the usual is the presence of a pull, or dead-pull, hitter at bat (such hitters almost never, except on the rare occasion of a fluke or mishit, hit the ball in any direction except towards the same side of the field as they stand at the plate, i.e. a right-handed pull hitter hits everything toward left field). In such case the fielders will move so far in the direction of the pull that one half of the field is almost completely unprotected. This is called an overshift. A six-man infield has also been used when circumstances warrant. For the great majority of batters, however, the traditional fielding arrangement is used, with minor changes in position to accommodate the batter's power or bat-handling ability, the location of runners, or the number of outs. (For example, with a base runner on third the importance of fielders being able to throw quickly to home plate on a bunt is increased, and the infielders will play closer to home plate.)
In cricket, coaches cannot intervene or direct gameplay; the captain must make all the calls once the players are out on the field, and the coach is reduced to a mere spectator. In baseball, by contrast, managers and coaches will often direct the players (through hand signals) to carry out a play (such as a stolen base or hit and run), or to field at a particular depth.
In both sports strategy varies with the game situation. In baseball, pitcher, batter and fielders all play far differently in the late innings of a close game (e.g., waiting for walks, trying for stolen bases or the squeeze play to score a decisive run) than they do early, or when one team has already scored many more runs than the other (where batters will be likely to swing at many more pitches and try for home runs). The number, speed, and position of baserunners, which have no equivalent in cricket, all dramatically change the strategies used by pitcher and batter. In leagues which do not allow designated hitters, strategic thinking also enters into substitutions. For example, substitutions of pitchers often are combined with substitution of another player who takes the pitcher's traditional spot in the batting order so that the pitcher will come to bat later (pitchers are almost uniformly poor hitters). Since players may not return to the game after being substituted for, a manager cannot take lightly the decision when and if to substitute a better-fielding but worse-hitting player if his team is ahead.
First-class cricket also has a number of strategic elements not found in baseball simply because the maximum time duration of the game is fixed (which can be up to five days for Test cricket) and a match not completed by the end of the time duration results in a draw regardless of the relative score. By contrast, baseball games are played to completion regardless of the time duration and there is no possibility for a tie or draw (outside of exhibition games, or in Japan, where games are declared ties after 12 innings). There are no equivalents in baseball, for example, of deciding when to declare or to make your opponent follow on.
The condition of the playing strip (the pitch) in cricket is of vital significance as, unlike baseball, the ball is deliberately bounced on the pitch before reaching the batsman. While in baseball, playing conditions between different stadia are much the same (except for perhaps small differences in the dimensions of the field, whether the outfield is fast or slow, and if the field is grass or artificial turf), the physical characteristics of the cricket pitch can vary over the course of the game, or from one field to another, or from one country to another. On the Indian subcontinent, for instance, pitches tend to be dry, dusty and soft. These pitches offer less assistance to fast bowlers because the ball tends to bounce slower and lower, where most fast bowlers rely on bounce and speed to defeat the batsman. On the other hand, spin bowlers prefer this surface because it gives greater traction to the ball and will result in the ball breaking or turning more when it hits the surface. When such a delivery is bowled, the ball is said to have "turned". Conversely, pitches in Australia tend to be hard, true surfaces, called "batting wickets" or "roads" because the ball bounces uniformly and thus batsman find it easier to score runs, although these wickets suit fast bowlers more than spinners. Accordingly, teams are generally much harder to beat in their own country, where both their batsmen and bowlers are presumably suited to the types of pitches encountered there. On any given pitch, however, conditions will become more suitable for spinners as time progresses as the pitch becomes softer and worn through use, making the spin bowler something of a cricketing "closer".
Baseball parks are not completely uniform, however. Stadiums with retractable roofs, for example, usually play differently with and without the roof. For example, with the roof open the wind will affect how far the ball carries. Against a running team the basepaths may be heavily watered. Many stadiums have idiosyncratic features – for example, the short right field and high left field wall (called the Green Monster) at Fenway Park, the hill and flagpole in the outfield (Tal's Hill) at Minute Maid Park, or numerous "porches" (parts of the grandstands hanging over the outfield, such as the "Short Porch in Right" at Yankee Stadium) which allow short home runs. The altitude of the stadium (most notably Coors Field) can also impact the distance a batted ball travels and the amount of ball movement a pitcher can generate with his deliveries, although recently balls have begun being placed in humidors at high-altitude parks to negate these effects. The baseball behaves differently in those stadiums with artificial turf as well. The amount of moisture in the dirt on the basepaths can also affect the behavior of ground balls and the ease with which players may steal bases; some teams are known to alter the amount of watering done to the dirt depending on the skills of the home and visiting team. The amount of foul territory is also an important variable, since foul pop-ups that would be outs in some parks (e.g. the Oakland Coliseum) may end up in the stands in other parks, thereby allowing the batter to remain at the plate (e.g. Fenway Park and Coors Field). On the whole, though, these variations do not produce effects as great as variations in cricket pitches, with one arguable exception being Coors Field.
The batting order in baseball must be declared before the game begins, and can only be changed if a substitution occurs. Batting out of turn is a rule violation resulting in a penalty. When a manager makes a substitution, the new player must occupy the same place in the batting order as the old one. To allow more complicated changes in batting order, managers may use the double switch, substituting for two players simultaneously. This is typically used to replace the pitcher but put the new pitcher in a spot in the batting order that will not come up to bat soon, previously occupied by another fielder (pitchers are almost uniformly poor hitters). However, the rule remains that no individual player can ever change his position in the batting order within the same game.
Unlike baseball, the batting order in cricket is not fixed, and can be changed at any time, provided each player bats at most once. This gives rise to the "pinch hitter" in cricket - a non-specialist batsman promoted up the order to get quick runs -, and the Nightwatchman. This latter is typically a non-batsman promoted up the order at the end of the day to avoid a better batsman having to make two cold starts, a particular risk.
The roles of individual players in the batting order are strikingly similar. In both sports, the players near the top of the batting order are considered superior batters or batsmen. The initial batters or batsmen generally specialize in avoiding making outs, while the third through fifth batters and batsmen are considered their team's best at providing runs. After that, the talent generally drops off, with the pitchers and bowlers generally being the worst at batting. However, since in baseball a batter who puts the ball in play does not get another at-bat until the entire batting order is cycled through, the opposing team may pitch around a skilled batter, walking him or otherwise relying on getting other batters out. In cricket, a batsman remains at the pitch until he is out (or the team is all out or declares), and the other team must bowl to him until he is out. The exception is if the player is injured and has to leave the field for treatment, the next batsman in the order will take his place. If the original batsman is able to continue later on, he can join the game again when one of his teams batsmen is out.
Baseball games are generally much shorter than cricket games. Most Major League Baseball games last between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half hours. Because the Major League playing season is 6 months long (183 days), with 81 games played at home and 81 away (162 in all, not counting the postseason or the All-Star Game), baseball teams often find themselves playing double-headers and series games. A doubleheader entails two matches, played back to back, in one day. This usually occurs when a match needed to be rescheduled, and is fairly common. A series occurs when two teams play on several consecutive days. This is an even more common occurrence in baseball because of the amount of games required in a season, and because there are large distances between stadiums in the U.S., thus conserving time and resources by allowing the teams to spend several days in a single location. In Major League Baseball there is a maximum of 20 days consecutively played before a break in matches must be observed.
Test Cricket games can last up to five days. The shorter version of the game (termed one-day games) usually lasts from five to seven hours, but can sometimes continue for longer than eight hours.
A new form of cricket, called Twenty20 for its innings of twenty overs per team, has recently and successfully debuted in domestic and international competitions. The average time it takes to play an individual game of Twenty20 cricket is similar to the amount of time it takes to play a game of baseball, around two-and-a-half to three hours.
ODI and Twenty20 cricket, with their inherent limit on the number of fair deliveries, do not have an exact equivalent in baseball. The closest comparison would be games that have a pre-set number of innings shorter than the standard 9 (as with the second game of a doubleheader at some levels) or a pre-set time limit of some kind, such as a curfew restriction, or in the case of one of baseball's cousins, recreational softball, a pre-set length of the game, such as one hour.
Baseball players use thin, round bats and wear gloves to field, while cricketers use wide, flat bats and field barehanded (except for the wicket-keeper, who wears gloves and protective leg pads). In cricket a batsman wears protective gear such as pads, gloves, thigh pads, helmet, an arm pad and a box (which is used to protect the groin area), whereas the only required protective gear for baseball batters is an unsecured helmet (as required in major league baseball rule 1.16); many batters also use elbow, shin, or ankle protectors, and many use batting gloves (similar to golf gloves) to aid grip.
Another difference between the two sports involves the condition of the ball as a match progresses. In cricket, if a ball is hit into the stands, the spectators must return it to the field. Also, a ball that is scuffed or scratched will continue in use; a ball must be used for a minimum number of overs (currently 80 in Test cricket) before it can be replaced. If a ball is damaged, lost, or illegally modified, it is replaced by a used ball of similar condition to the old one. Finally, cricketers are allowed sparingly to modify the ball, though this is highly restricted. The ball may be polished (usually on a player's uniform) without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. In Major League Baseball, a ball that is hit into the stands is often not returned to play; spectators are free to keep any balls that come into their possession (although local tradition, rather than the rulebook, may provide for a ball to be thrown back).
Because baseball hitting is difficult, baseball rules prohibit the deliberate scratching or scuffing of a ball, or the application of any foreign substance that could conceivably affect the flight or visibility of a ball. Balls that are deliberately made more difficult to hit by applying foreign substances are often known as spitballs, regardless of the specific substance applied (such as Vaseline). Both spitballs and those that become scuffed or scratched through normal game play are immediately removed from play and never reused. The current rules regarding the condition of baseballs did not come into effect until 1920, after the death of Ray Chapman from being hit with a Carl Mays spitball. Before that point, the rules were similar to those still present in cricket. However, the new rules were not consistently enforced for several decades afterwards, and several pitchers (most notably Gaylord Perry) built careers around skirting these rules, doing such things as hiding nail files in their gloves or putting Vaseline on the underside of their hats. Because of financial or practical limits on the supply of fresh balls, enforcement of these rules is much more limited in minor league and amateur baseball games, where balls become worn and scuffed (and darkened) in the course of play; even so, use of the spitball is universally forbidden. The only substance applied to a baseball is the Delaware River mud formula that umpires rub in before a game to remove the "shine" from the ball and improve its grip. The pitcher is also allowed to use rosin on his hands (via a rosin bag) to improve his grip, and to blow on his hands in cold weather.
Both games have a long history of using a vast array of statistics. Every play in baseball is logged, and from the log, or scoresheet, is derived a summary report of times at bat, base hits, RBIs, stolen bases, errors, strikeouts and other occurrences. These are then often used to rate the player. Although cricket uses statistics as a guide they are not always considered a true reflection of the player. Ian Botham is noted as a player who, despite relatively poor averages, was particularly noted as one of England's greatest cricketers for his ability to dominate games.
In baseball, questioning of the validity and utility of conventional baseball statistics has led to the creation of the field of sabermetrics, which assesses alternatives to conventional statistics. Conclusions are sometimes drawn from inadequate samples – for example, an assertion that a batter has done poorly against a specific pitcher, when they have only faced each other a handful of times.
Both sports play an important part in the culture of the societies in which they are popular. Baseball is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, and is known in the United States as "the national pastime". It is the sport most readily identified with the United States, by Americans and non-Americans alike. Baseball references abound in American English, and the sport is well represented in the quintessentially American art form of cinema in numerous baseball movies. Baseball also plays important cultural roles in Canada and in many parts of Latin America, (more specifically Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela), as well as in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Cricket is an equally strong influence on the culture of many nations, especially Commonwealth nations, including India, Pakistan, England, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Uganda, Mauritius, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Tuvalu, Hong Kong, Australia, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bermuda, Nepal, U.A.E., Afghanistan and the English-speaking Caribbean and the rest of the former British Empire. It unifies many of the religions and cultures of the Commonwealth, encouraging friendly relations between sometime hostile nations. Cricket is the most popular sport or a major sport in most former British Colonies.
Many terms and expressions from each sport have entered the English lexicon. Examples are "getting to first base," "coming out of left field," "having two strikes against him/her," "it's not cricket," "had a good innings."
Cricket has long been established among the colonies and former colonies of the United Kingdom. The ten Test-playing nations regularly participate in tours of other nations to play usually both a Test and One Day International series. Twenty20 is becoming more popular in international competition. The amateur game has also been spread further afield by expatriates from the Test-playing nations. Many of these minor cricketing nations (including the USA and Canada and other nations, such as the Netherlands, which do not have a British heritage) compete to qualify for the Cricket World Cup. The very first international cricket match was played between the USA and Canada.
Baseball in a similar way has also been spread around the world, most notably in Central America, and east Asia (in Canada it developed as a traditional sport). Though baseball has not yet made its mark in professional international competition, its popularity is slowly growing around the world, especially with the emergence of competitions like the World Baseball Classic.
The nature of the top elite level in both sports differs markedly. Nearly all cricket revenue comes from international matches, and domestic leagues serve largely as a development ground for international players. By contrast nearly all baseball revenue comes from domestic leagues, most notably in the US and Japan.
Cricket's international programme allows the weaker cricketing nations to play against the best in the world, and the players have the chance to become national heroes. On the other hand, the dominance of national teams also means that a great many talented Cricketers in nations such as Australia and India will never receive recognition or prestige unless they make it into the national team.
Standards of sportsmanship differ. In cricket, the standard of sportsmanship has historically been considered so high that the phrase 'it's just not cricket' was coined in the 19th Century to describe unfair or underhanded behavior in any walk of life. In the last few decades though, cricket has become increasingly fast-paced and competitive, increasing the use of appealing and sledging, although players are still expected to abide by the umpires' rulings without argument, and for the most part they do. Even in the modern game fielders are known to signal to the umpire that a boundary was hit, despite what could have been a spectacular save (though this may well be that they will be found out by the TV umpire anyway). In addition to this, some cricket batsmen have been known to "walk" when they think they are out even if the umpire does not declare them out. This is considered a very high level of sportsmanship, as a batsman can easily take advantage of incorrect umpiring decisions.
In baseball, a player correcting an umpire's call to his own team's detriment is unheard of, at least at the professional level. Individual responsibility and vigilance are part of the game's tradition. It is the umpire's responsibility to make the right call, and matters of judgment are final. Similarly, when a runner misses a base or leaves too early on a caught fly ball, the umpire keeps silent, as it is the fielder's responsibility to know where the runners are and to make an appeal. When a fielder pretends not to know where the ball is (the "hidden ball trick"), the umpire keeps silent, as it is the runner's responsibility to know where the ball is.
|Analogous concepts and similar terms|
|each team's batting turn||an innings (either singular or plural)||a half-inning or side; innings is a plural term|
|player who delivers the ball to start play||a bowler, who bowls||a pitcher, who pitches|
|player who strikes at the ball||batsman||batter (The word batsman is often used, however, in the phrase "hit batsman.")|
|distance between above two players||22 yards (66 feet) or 20.1 metres (approx. 58 ft or 17.7 m between the bowler and batsman at delivery)||60 feet 6 inches or 18.4 m (approx. 58 ft or 17.7 m between pitcher and batter at delivery)|
|fielder behind the player batting||wicket-keeper||catcher|
|player's batting turn||(batting) innings||plate appearance, at-bat, ups|
|hitting the ball||shot or stroke||hit - also shot, stroke, knock, etc.|
|carrying bat after striking||batsman carries bat while running and uses it as an extension of his body||batter drops bat after hitting and while running|
|edge of the field||boundary (or boundary rope)||fence, wall|
|scoring over the boundary or fence||six runs (six) if on the full; four runs (four) otherwise||home run if on the fly (and fair) - one, two, three, or four runs depending on the number of batters on base; automatic double if on the bounce from fair territory - batter and any runners on base may advance only two bases; thus, only two runs maximum may score|
|Hits inside the field result in...||zero to four runs (or more in unusual circumstances such as misfields or lost balls)||runners advancing, with possibility of one or more runners reaching home for a run.|
|hitting the ball in a specific area||placement||place hitting|
|hitting the ball high into the air, liable to being caught||skyer (or skier), spooning it up||fly ball, pop fly, popup, "skying it"|
|catching the ball in flight||catch||fly out or catch (see in flight)|
|dismissal types||run out, caught, bowled, leg before wicket, stumped, hit wicket, handled the ball, hit the ball twice, obstructing the field, timed out (the last four are very rare)||tag out, fly out, force out, strike out, interference (similar to obstructing the field in cricket, but more common)|
|dismissal procedure||appeal to an umpire – an out cannot be given without an appeal from the fielding side, unless the batsman leaves the field on his own (Law 27).||automatic – most outs are called immediately by umpires; some potential outs require an appeal play to be called.|
|curving deliveries||leg breaks and off breaks change direction after bouncing; if before bouncing, the away swing or outdipper curves away from batter, the in swing or indipper curves toward batter||breaking balls curve in the air; the curveball/slider/cut fastball away from the pitching-hand side, the sinker, splitter, and forkball unexpectedly dip downwards(as can a curveball), the rare screwball bends toward pitching-hand side, as will the increasingly common circle change, and the unpredictable knuckleball which can literally move in any direction, and oftentimes can cork screw|
|a delivery not in a good hitting zone||wide||ball|
|central/inner playing arena||wicket, pitch or strip||infield or diamond|
|sides of the field||Assuming a right-handed batsman, the "Off side" is the side to his right, while the side to his left is called the "Leg side" (as that is the side closest to the batsman's legs) or sometimes the "On side". Reverse for a left-handed batsman.||"Left field" is always to the batter's left and "right field" is always to the batter's right (when facing the pitcher), regardless of the side of the plate he hits from. The term "opposite field" in baseball is equivalent to "off side", as it is the side of the baseball field in front of the batter as he faces the pitcher.|
|substitution||injured players can be replaced for fielding and running, not bowling or batting (Law 2)||players can be replaced in lineup for any reason; once removed they cannot return (except in certain youth leagues such as Little League which allow a "courtesy runner" for a pitcher, some recreational leagues and exhibition games, and in special rules such as designated hitter); baseball substitution rule was originally also only in case of injury; unlike cricket, the replacement could also bat|
|delivery toward the head||"beamer" or sometimes "beamball" - umpire may warn or eject the bowler||"beanball" - umpire may warn or eject the pitcher|
|Words used in both sports, possibly with different meanings|
|a ball||any legal delivery by the bowler||a legal delivery not entering the strike zone nor swung at by the batter. If a batter receives four balls during one plate appearance, he is awarded a base on balls.|
|drive||powerfully hit ball from the face of the bat||powerfully hit ball (could be a hit, or caught for an out)|
|infield||the area of the field less than 30 yards from the pitch (basically oval in shape)||the area of the field inside and immediately near the "diamond"; the "diamond" is the area inside the baselines, which are straight lines either drawn between bases (home plate to first - third to home plate) or imaginary (first to second and second to third); the "diamond" is thus a square 90 feet on a side but is called such because of how it appears as seen from home plate.|
|inning(s)||an innings is a period of batting, it can refer to that of a whole team, or an individual player||an inning is one period of batting for each team (3 outs per half-inning)|
|lineup||the "batting lineup" means the players who are regarded as strong batsmen. a "strong batting lineup" might mean 7 or 8 recognised batsmen.||the players playing in a given game|
|out||a batsman is "out" when he is dismissed via a number of different ways. "outs" is never used.||batters can be "out"; when there are three "outs" the inning is over; the term "retired" is also used.|
|outfield||the area of the field more than 30 yards from the pitch||the fair-territory area outside the diamond|
|pinch hitter||batsman promoted up the batting order to score runs quickly in a one-day game (deliberately borrowed from the baseball term)||substitute for another batter|
|pitch|| ||the act of throwing the ball toward the batter|
|run||unit of scoring, achieved by the batsmen changing ends in one movement||unit of scoring, achieved by batter visiting all four bases in succession, in up to four movements|
|single||stroke which scores one run||hit which allows the batter to advance to first base. It can score one run or more if runners are on base. A lone run in an inning can be called a "singleton".|
|walk||to leave the field when out without waiting for the umpire's decision||slang for a base on balls: to advance to first base after receiving four balls|