The game of indoor cricket
In terms of the concept of the game indoor cricket is similar to cricket. Like its outdoor cousin, indoor cricket involves two batsmen, a bowler and a team of fielders. The bowler bowls the ball to the batsmen who must score runs. The team with the highest score at the end of the match wins. Despite these basic similarities, the game itself differs significantly from its traditional counterpart in several ways, most notably on the field of play and the duration of the game.
Playing arena: Indoor cricket court
The length of an indoor cricket pitch is the same as a conventional cricket pitch, and has 3 stumps at each end, but there the similarities end. The arena is completely enclosed by tight netting, a few metres from each side and end of the pitch. The playing surface is normally artificial grass matting. Whilst the pitch is the same length, however, the batsmen don't have to run the entire length. The striker's crease is in the regulation place in front of the stumps, but the non-striker's crease is only half way down the pitch.
Indoor cricket is played between 2 teams of 8 players. Each player must bowl 2 overs, and bat in a partnership for 4 overs. A faster version of the game exists, where each side is reduced to 6 players and each innings lasts 12 overs instead of 16.
The stumps used in indoor cricket are not, for obvious reasons, stuck in the ground. Instead, they are collapsible spring-loaded stumps that immediately spring back to the standing position when knocked over. The ball used in indoor cricket is a modified cricket ball, with a softer centre. The ball also differs in that it is yellow in colour so to make it more obvious to see indoors against varied backgrounds. Both traditional outdoor cricket bats or more specialised lighter-weight indoor cricket bats may be used. The gloves are typically lightweight cotton with no protective padding on the outside. The palm-side of the gloves usually have embedded rubber dots to aid grip.
Indoor cricket has its own unique techniques, particularly with regards to batting, in which the batsman looks to hit the ball at the latest possible moment, causing the ball to bounce sharply off the ground, ideally propelling the ball into the top corner of the net, preventing any fielders from making contact with the ball. This stroke technique is typically referred to as down-up, "slap shot" or a "chop".
The technique of bowling is also slightly different to that of outdoor cricket. As the court is enclosed in nets, the length of a bowlers run up is severely shortened. This shortened length means that moving the ball or swinging the ball is almost as important as the pace of the ball.
Scoring in indoor cricket is split into 2 areas: physical runs and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net. Bonus scores for particular parts of the nets follow:
Zone A (front net - behind the keeper): 0 runs
Zone B (side nets between the striker's end and halfway down the pitch): 1 run
Zone C (side nets between halfway and the bowlers end): 2 runs
Zone D (back net - behind the bowler): 4 or 6 runs depending on the manner in which the ball hit the back net.
On the bounce: 4 runs
On the full: 6 runs
Zone B or C onto Zone D: 3 runs
NB: For bonus runs to be scored, at least one physical run must be scored. The bonus runs are then added to the physical runs. For example, a batsman strikes the ball, hitting the back net on the full (6) and makes one physical run, for a total of 7 runs.
A batsman can be dismissed in the same ways they can be in conventional cricket - with variations in the case of LBW and mankad (see below) - and with the exception of timed out. When a batsman gets dismissed, however, five runs are deducted from their total and they continue to bat. Batsmen bat in pairs for 4 overs at a time, irrespective of whether they are dismissed.
A method of dismissal in indoor cricket that is far more prevalent than its outdoor counterpart is the mankad. A mankad is given out if the bowler completes their bowling action without releasing the ball, breaks the stumps at their end without letting go of the ball and the non-striker is out of their ground.
Whilst LBW is still a valid form of dismissal in indoor cricket, it is a far rarer occurrence in indoor than it is in outdoor cricket. A batsman can only be dismissed LBW if he does not offer a shot and the umpire is satisfied that the ball would then have hit the stumps.
Indoor cricket is officiated by one umpire who is situated outside of the playing area at the strike batsmen's end of the court. The umpire sits or stands on a raised platform that is usually 3 metres above ground level. Secondary officials (such as scorers or video umpires) have sometimes been utilised in national or international competition.
The team with the higher score at the conclusion of each innings is declared the winner of the match. The second innings continues for a full 16 overs even if the batting side passes the first innings total due to the possibility of a side finishing behind a total even after they have surpassed it (see dismissals above).
In most cases indoor cricket is played according to a skins system, where the batting partnerships from each innings are compared against one another and the higher of the two is deemed to have won the skin. For example, the second batting partnership in the first innings might score 5 runs whilst the second partnership in the second innings scores 10 - the latter would be deemed to have won the skin. The team that has won the greater of the four skins available is often awarded the win if the totals are tied.