I see you're back from your beer break. Ready for more cricket learnin'? From your blank stare I'll guess the answer is yes. So, fire away!
Q: The field is one big circle shape-roughly. In baseball, there are foul lines. What's a foul in cricket?
A: There isn't one in that sense. The batsman can hit the ball anywhere, in any direction, and get runs.
Q: I guess that explains why all those guys are standing behind the batsman, but not many are in front. So what do you call the fielding positions?
A: Um, next question, please.
Q: No, seriously, I want to know what you call the fielding positions!
A: No, seriously, you don't. At least not yet. Suffice to say that the positions aren't set in stone--in other words, they don’t always have to be used. In baseball you always have a shortstop or a right fielder, or a first baseman, and they typically stay in the same place. In cricket, the captain of the team can shift his fielders around all over the place, and not pay attention to have to have someone in a particular position.
Q: Ouch! That’s gonna leave a mark! Why was that fielder standing five feet from the batsman! If he keeps doing that he’s gonna have an exciting life, or get hit a lot more times in some interesting places. That's kind of silly, isn't it?
A: Funny you should say that. Oh, sorry. Inside joke for which you are not yet ready. Next!
Q: Does the ball have to bounce before the batsman can hit it?
A: No, he or she can also hit it before it bounces.
Q: Hey, who are those two guys wearing white lab coats? Are they conducting some kind of experiment about how much boredom a stadium full of people can stand before they storm the field and play paddy whack on some players’ heads?
A: Those are the umpires. And never mind what they are wearing—you look like Larry the Cable Guy after being rescued from a burning pickup truck. And this isn’t boring. You’re just trying to absorb too much at once.
Q: So why is the umpire pointing at the sky? And why is the batsman walking away?
A: That's the way of signaling someone is out.
Q: But the ball didn't hit the stumps. It hit the batsman in that ginormous pad on his leg.
A: That is true. But, in the umpire's opinion, had the ball not hit the batsman's leg pad, it would have gone on a hit the stumps, so the umpire is giving him out Leg Before Wicket (LBW).
Q: OK, that's weird.
A: OK, that's not a question.
Q: Put your finger down. I'll ask a question. Explain that bit again.
A: Imagine in baseball if a batter leans into a ball and it hits him. If they were playing by cricket rules, the umpire could call him out because the ball would have gone on to cross the plate and be a strike.
Q: OK, whatever. Why did the ball bounce away from the batsman so drastically? Was that a curve ball?
A: There are four types of balls bowled in cricket. One is the equivalent of the fastball; another is the equivalent of the change-up...just a variation in speeds. A third ball swings in the air, like a curve ball. The fourth general type is a spinning ball, which does what you just described ... it was spinning out of the bowler's hand, and spat away from the batsman (in this case-it can also go toward the bowler).
Q: Does the same bowler bowl all types of balls?
A: No, Typically there are specialist spin bowlers, bowlers who swing the ball in the air, guys who throw the heat, and guys who change speeds well. But a bowler USUALLY only does one type of bowling. And I'm being general again. There are many rules on arm angle, foot placement, etc., and variations on the above balls. But we're keeping it simple.
Q: You keep saying that. Oh, look, everyone's walking off. Is the game over?
A: No, it is lunch time. They'll come back on and play until time to eat again at teatime. Then after that they'll play a while longer until the umpires say play is stopped for the day. Of course if this were a Limited Overs match, then it likely would be over, or at least half over.
Q: I need a drink.
A: That's what you Americans are always saying. Are you sure you aren't really Australians who emigrated?