How does scoring in cricket work?
“If you’re not playing to win, don’t bother to keep the score.” Why is it difficult to read that sentence without hearing an Australian accent in the mind’s ear? It certainly reveals a ruthless streak. Nothing about the joys to be derived from the game; nothing about a good match; just the uncompromising assertion that sport is played to win and to finish second is no different to finishing one hundred and second – you are still a loser.
The interesting thing about that seemingly harsh opening sentiment is that it contains mention of one of the three categories of individuals whose names appear on any scorecard. There are the players, the umpires and the scorers. No coaches, no managers and often not even the twelfth man. Commercial necessity sometimes demands that the sponsors appear on the card as well, but there is no doubt that the scorers occupy one of the three principal roles in a game of cricket. .
To be fair, this is probably because it was the scorers who produced the finished record of the game. Often unpaid and otherwise unsung, it was the scorers themselves who decided that they deserved a little of the limelight shone on the others.
The earliest full record of a cricket match appeared in 1744 after Kent had match appeared in played England at the Artillery Ground, situated in Finsbury just north of the City of London. It was in the same year that the first edition of the Laws of Cricket appeared, including reference to notches rather than runs. This was because the first method of recording the score was to indeed cut notches in a piece of wood, and scorers were referred to as notchers.
It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that reference was made to runs rather than notches, but by 1823 this had become a commonplace expression. It was about the same time that the course of the game was recorded with a pen on paper rather than with a knife on wood, making that change in terminology understandable.
The scorers even have their own section of the Laws, with the 2000 Code, as produced by the MCC, reading:
1. Appointment of scorers Two scorers shall be appointed to record all runs scored, all wickets taken and, where appropriate, the number of overs bowled.
2. Correctness of scores The scorers shall frequently check to ensure that their records agree. They shall agree with the umpires, at least at every interval, other than a drinks interval, and at the conclusion of the match the runs scored, the wickets that have f alien and, where appropriate, the number of overs bowled.
3. Acknowledging the signals The scorers shall accept all instructions and signals given to them by the umpires. They shall immediately acknowledge each separate signal.
It is not a vast weight of legislation to cover what is a vital job. Furthermore, the scorer’s duties seldom end there. Over the years it became traditional that the scorer would be the team’s accountant and general business manager. The affinity between the two roles is obvious. And moving into the modern era, players and coaches demand rather more by way of information than simple bowling analyses or batting statistics. They want to know how and where the runs were scored.
That is where the advantages of computerisation become evident in cricket. The game has moved on from notches and paper, and even from Nicholas Wanostrocht, or Felix as he was known, the legendary batsman of All-England who made a point in the 1840s of keeping a note of his score on the stiff shirtfront that was the fashion in those days. It has to be said that at a time of heavy betting on cricket and the allied corruption that pervaded all aspects of the game, such a record was likely to prove more accurate than that of the official scorers, who might have vested interests in manipulating totals.
The modern system of scoring based on the latest technology is rather more reliable than notches on wood or pen on paper, or even a starched shirtfront. The variety of information recorded by today’s scorers would be staggering to old-fashioned scribes. Not only do computers record the score, but they can produce instant analysis of the statistics and even pictorial records of where runs were scored. The idea of dots and strokes carefully recorded in a scorebook appears to be a thing of the past.
Computers are also used in the way the work of the scorers is relayed to the public. The scores appear on computer screens almost instantaneously, while they are sent directly from computer to · computer to enable them to be printed in newspapers without the necessity for laborious typesetting.
On the grounds themselves, computers come into play to feed information to the scoreboard. On major grounds, the scoreboards with numbers on rollers clicking into place are rarities, while those that relied on tin plates being slotted into gaps on the fascia are even more ancient. Vast electronic displays give the spectators a wealth of information, often in an eye-catching and innovative way.
Such scoreboards are the way of the modern game, especially as they can has taken over at the expense of charm. Electronic scoreboards are all very well, but the older boards were more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, especially at Trent Bridge where ample information was provided in a modern way on a traditional scoreboard. As for the laptop replacing the leather-bound tome in which the facts of the game were lovingly recorded in copper-plate handwriting, you have to ask whether this is really progress, or just another sacrifice to the great god modernity. carry advertising messages with the score or, during intervals, instead of the score. They do, however, become infuriating when a technical glitch renders them out of order or a spectator looks to catch up on a statistic during the lunch interval only to find the screen filled by an advertisement.