A professional cricket match can either last for three hours (T20s), eight hours (ODIs) or six hours for three or five consecutive days (Test matches). The popularity of the sport has led to pre-match and post-match shows of a particular cricket series be a routine feature on broadcast channels. The on-field proceedings of the match itself begins with a pre-match analysis of the pitch, field, weather and team line-ups. Additionally, an on-field coin toss between the two playing captains decides which side would be batting or bowling first.
Since there are a good number of events lined-up before the match, a first time viewer of the sport might find it difficult to comprehend when the match actually starts. Players take to the field at the scheduled match time. The fielding side captain positions the fielders in their appropriate places on the ground. The two incoming batters position themselves at the strikers and the non-strikers end.
Role of the Umpire
The on-field umpires inspect and have a quick scan of the ground to ensure that everything is in order for the commencement of the match. During this quick outlook of the ground, the umpires check for any hindrance on the field, total number of players on the field, and presence of hindrance near the peripheries of the ground.
Both these umpires then verify with each other if all the boxes have been checked. The umpire at the non-striker‘s end then positions his hand horizontally on the side from which the bowler would bowl. This signal indicates that the bowler is not allowed to ball yet. The umpires then ask the strike batters, the bowler, and the fielding side captain if they are ready to play. Once an affirmation is received, the umpires call “Play” out loud and removes his hand from the horizontal position to rest position to signal that the bowler can now bowl the first ball of the match.
In recent times, to increase the anticipation of the first ball of the match, broadcasters show a countdown from 10 to 1. This coincides with the umpire’s call of starting the match. The call of play by umpires is also made when the match resumes after any interruption or interval.