Cricket has become a little more popular in the United States in the past fifteen or so years, but 90% of the population doesn't even know the basics of the sport. People try to compare it to baseball, but the only thing similar between the sports is the fact that a batter hits a ball to try and score runs. The "pitchers", who are referred to as bowlers in cricket, are not allowed to throw the ball. Instead they must keep there arm straight, which could be described as an overhand softball toss. The ball that is used is approximately the size of a baseball, but it is harder. The fielders do not wear gloves, except for the "wicket keeper", who is kind of like a catcher.
The field is a full circle and the pitch, which is a rectangular area of dirt, where the batter stands, is in the middle of the field. On either end of the pitch there is a wicket, which are three stumps that are upright. An offensive player stands by each wicket, while only one represents the batter. The other player stands on the other wicket and waits for his teammate to hit the ball. When he hits the ball, the two players will switch sides, running towards the other wicket, which scores one run. The bowler will be "pitching" to the batter and usually will try and bounce the ball as close as he can to the batter to make it harder for the batsman to get an easier opportunity to score runs. If the batter hits the ball to the boundaries of the circle, which are only about half a foot high, they will receive four runs (cannot add on by running back and forth on the pitch). If the ball clears the boundary without bouncing in the field, then the team is awarded six runs. Since the field is circular, the ball can be played in any direction (even behind the batter).
If the batter hits the ball and it is caught in the air by a defensive player, he is out. If the batter misses the ball and the ball hits the wicket, he is out. If the ball hits the wicket when a runner is trying to get to other wicket, he is out. Since the batter is out if the ball hits the stumps when he is batting, he will try and protect the wicket by standing directly in front of it. This brings up another way of getting out. If the ball strikes the batters leg instead of the bat and the umpire believes that the ball was about to hit the stumps, then the batter is out. If the batter gets out, he is done for the game and cannot return. Each offense plays for 50 overs (6 balls per over) or 10 outs, whichever comes up first. There are 11 people eligible to bat, but two are necessary to play on offense.
These are the basics of cricket, but you can really only understand it if you watch it. India finished off Sri Lanka earlier today to secure its second World Cup, the other coming in 1983. Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the best batter in cricket history, finally gets his championship, despite scoring only 18 runs in the final. India's offense got off to a fatal start, with Sehwag getting out on the second ball. With their two stars out within the first three overs, India was not in good shape to win this match. Gambhir quickly changed that, scoring 97 runs, combining for a century in partnership with the captain, Dhoni. Dhoni finished with 91 and hit the game winning sixer when India needed four runs for the World Cup.