Indoor Cricket: A Brief History & Overview

Indoor Cricket is a modified variant of outdoor cricket, designed to be played indoors. Originally created as an informal game to fill time during rainy weather, indoor cricket became popular enough to be recognised by its own international governing body.

In this article, we’ll explore the origins and rules of Indoor Cricket.

Origins of Indoor Cricket

The origins of indoor cricket are not clear, but some trace it to Flensburg in Germany in the 1960s. A national competition in the UK was also held in Islington in 1976. And, the consensus is that the current format became popular in Australia in the late 1970s.

The codified version of indoor cricket dates back to Perth in 1978, when legendary Australian cricketer Dennis Lillee, along with his business associate Graham Monaghan, had a training facility in Perth where they coached junior cricketers. One day, inclement weather forced a match at a nearby oval to be abandoned, so they relocated to their indoor centre and improvised some rules for a game of indoor cricket.

The format of the game proved to be fast and exciting, so Monoghan decided to start promoting indoor cricket as a way to draw more business to his training centre. From there, the game of indoor cricket took off in popularity, spreading to other indoor centres throughout Australia.

An eight-a-side indoor cricket offshoot developed, which morphed into a nationwide franchise known as Indoor Cricket Arenas (ICA). Before too long, around 200,000 people were estimated to be playing indoor cricket at hundreds of ICA stadiums across Australia. In 1984, a national championship competition was held. Then, in 1995, the World Indoor Cricket Federation governing body was founded by representatives from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England, cementing indoor cricket as an official, codified, international sport.

The Rules of Indoor Cricket

1. What are the basic rules of indoor cricket?

The basic rules of indoor cricket are essentially the same as outdoor cricket. However, there are some notable differences around scoring and, of course, the format and size of the playing area.

2. How many players are on a team?

A team in indoor cricket consists of 8 players. There are men’s, women’s and mixed competitions. Each player must bowl two overs with 8 balls instead of 6, and bat in a 4 over partnership. This means that all players must bat, bowl and field!

3. What size is an indoor cricket pitch?

The size of an indoor cricket pitch is the same as a outdoor pitch, however there is no outfield, and the playing area is enclosed by netting. The entire playing area is 30 metres in length and 12 metres wide. The nets are 4.5 metres high.

4. How is the game played?

The game is based on outdoor cricket, but modified to make it faster and playable indoors. Each side bats and bowls for 1 innings of 16 overs (total of 32 overs per game), with matches lasting just over an hour.

Scoring in indoor cricket is split into physical runs (scored by both batsmen running between the wickets) and bonus runs (scored when a batsman hits the ball into a net). The playing area is divided into 4 segmented zones, with each zone generating different bonus scores.

Batsmen can be dismissed in the same ways as outdoor cricket, however the mankad method of dismissal is also valid. Possibly the biggest difference compared to traditional cricket is that, when a batsmen goes out, their innings doesn’t end. Instead, five runs are deducted from their team’s score, and they continue to bat for the remainder of their 4 over partnership. This can be disastrous for a team if an individual batsman is terrible and is dismissed multiple times throughout their 4-over innings — every time they are dismissed, the team loses another 5 runs. But, on the flipside, because every player also needs to bowl 2 overs, there are opportunities for batsmen to take advantage of long hops, wides and rank full tosses served up by bowlers that couldn’t hit the stumps if their life depended on it.

5. What equipment is used?

Instead of the hard red, white or pink balls used in regular outdoor formats (Test Matches, One Dayers, T20s, day-night Tests), a softer yellow ball is used, which is easier to see indoors and under fluroscent lights.

Batsmen use either traditional outdoor cricket bats, or more lightweight versions. Batsmen often opt to wear lighter cotton gloves with rubber grips instead of traditional padded batting gloves, as the lighter gloves allow greater freedom of movement (e.g. the ablitiy to switch-hit or change hand positions on the bat).

The stumps are not dug into the ground like in outdoor cricket, and are usually spring-loaded so that they spring back to their original position after being knocked over. (Anyone that has played amateur cricket on dodgy pitches can attest to the fact that setting up the stumps in a small patch of useless dry sand can be a time-consuming and frustrating task.)

How to join an Indoor Cricket competition

It’s very easy to join an indoor cricket competiion. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before, or aren’t too fit — just gather a few mates together to form a new team, or find your local indoor cricket centre and ask about joining an existing team. You usually won’t need any equipment to play (apart from a box to protect your nether regions, which you generally don’t want to share with your sweaty teammates) as most indoor centres have equipment for hire or provide the equipment as part of your playing fee.

So now you now a bit about the history of indoor cricket and the basic rules, what have you got to lose? Why not give it a go, and play the fun and fast-paced sport of indoor cricket!