As seen on tea towels in every British kitchen in the 1970s:
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.
Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.
When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.
Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.
There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game
There’s an extra " in the link to the World Cup given in this posting causing a 404. Feel free to delete this after you’ve corrected it.
“Divide that by nine, please.”
That was super helpful.
Yeah, that viewing figure is just a little inflated.
The population of the countries which play cricket seriously, yes. The people watching the World Cup ( ludicrously, not even played in the full format of the game), no chance. Not that I’m bitter about England being utterly useless at a game they invented, again, or anything.
If you do want to learn about cricket from a US perspective (or baseball from a cricket one), former England cricketer and journalist Ed Smith wrote a good book on the subject - Playing Hard Ball.
But the best writing about cricket is the stuff that isn’t really about it.
I really recommend Chris England’s Balham to Bollywood, about a comedy writer and amateur cricketer who ended up in the Bollywood film Lagaan - Once Upon A Time in India, and Fibber in the Heat - about Miles Jupp (Archie in children’s TV series Balamory) blagging his way into the press team covering England’s tour of India.
I knew a Brit veteran who had led an interesting life, including the time he shook Churchill’s hand. But I asked him one question about the ball bouncing after a throw, he got a big smile on his face, and talked for three minutes solid. All I got out of the flurry of enthusiasm was that somewhere during the game, someone yells, 'owizzit? and the crowd applauds politely.
The best explanation of cricket I’ve seen is David Morgan-Mar’s: DM’s Explanation of Cricket, including contrasts with the rules of baseball.
I’m guessing @mr_evangore just pulled that from the Wikipedia article. The references that supposedly state that figure either don’t mention it or are dead. I just added a  tag to that part of the Wikipedia article.
To add my 10 cc worth, I don’t like cricket - I fuckin’ hate it.
Hey now, you got to show some respect
You can’t mention cricket without mentioning the marvel that is the Test Match Special radio programme. At lunch, you can expect an interview with perhaps the Dalai Lama, Katy Perry, The Prime Minister or Daniel Ratcliffe. The programme is arguably more interesting when rain stops play, and they have to fill the time with conversation.
And it has cakes
When you’re thrust into playing cricket in an eighties’ British comprehensive school and you don’t know the ‘rules’ and some of the other kids are like, “his foot crossed the line”, and you’re stood there staring at that blood-red stain on the boys crotch a few meters in front of you, having to divert your eyes, thinking, “he needs to get a GP to look into that,” but being careful to keep an eye for the ridiculously weighty ‘ball’ that’s about to be thrust at high velocity in your general direction by the lad in the fourth set in mathematics (and therefore doesn’t anything beyond the highly taxing level of multiplication), and the padding you’re given doesn’t quite fit and the wooden block you hastily carved in CDT (woodcraft) is itching like crazy but, being the lesser of two evils, you’re staking your potential future progeny on it over the sweaty and ill-smelling cups (of which there was only two or three supplied- this being Thatchers’ Britain) and thinking to yourself, “if only I had a jar or two of Watney’s Red Barrel I might cope”, but then you realise you’re only 12 and drinking alcohol at that age is child-abuse. So the ball is thrust wide - so wide I have to duck away so as to retain my teeth and run away. Might has well have been singing ‘Toremelenos’… and then…
I once tried to explain baseball to a friend from Belgium, and it was difficult. “That’s a strike, right? He struck the ball!”
Considering that Major League Baseball is trying to speed up games here in the USA, I doubt anybody is going to get Americans to care about a game that can last days (personally I think baseball is fine as it is, and “speeding up game play” might just take away some of the appeal-- often the excitement is in the tension, the duel between pitcher and batter.)
I wish my eighties’ British comprehensive school had played some cricket instead of just endless fucking football (aside for the mad Scottish teacher who made us play shinty(!))
It was generally either football or cricket or running. A lot of running. I still like running so that wasn’t too bad. Once we played rugby and I found I was really good at it - seriously, the thugs couldn’t get near me with the ball. Don’t know the rules, I just got the ball and ran. We never played rugby again. Over five years we played rugby once. In 80s Britain. Thanks Thatcher… At least I still have my original teeth. Small blessings.
I went to a posh school, and football wasn’t allowed (too common, although we’d still play it at lunchtime). We had cricket, rugby, swimming, golf, cross-country and hockey. (The golf was because sixth formers could choose any sport you wanted, so we just went to the driving range every week to stay away from the team sports and school in general). Apparently someone in our school rugby team injured Prince William when they played Eton.
We played hurling in Ireland, which is so much better than hockey.
The Wall game has to be about the slowest scoring sport out there - the last time someone scored a goal was in 1909.
An Aussie family transferred into my high school, and on a class picnic they taught us to play cricket. It was kind of fun.
I think the key thing to bear in mind when trying to watch cricket is that you do not need to understand all the jargon. In particular the field positions: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Cricket_fielding_positions2.svg
I grew up with cricket and I can decipher some of them but I certainly do not know most of them.
My favourite format is one-day matches. Perfect summer sport for watching with a few beers, either at the match or at home on television.
Edit: Oh and it’s “Howzat?” as in “How’s that?”. It’s an appeal to a type of foul or off side rule called ‘leg before wicket’ (LBW) which can get a batsman out. The idea being that you must only guard the wicket (the sticks) with your bat, not your leg.