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How to play Cricket, a card game for two players

Updated on June 07, 2016

Cricket Card Game

Young girl playing the card game Cricket with cards in a triangle formation
Young girl playing the card game Cricket with cards in a triangle formation

Cricket Card Game Overview

Cricket is a card game that I originally learnt to play around the age of 10. The original game rules have since been lost, so now I play it with some homebrew rules that you can use to play too. It is a game designed for two players; each player represents an entire cricket team.

The game resembles a five-day test match, cricket game. Both players will have a chance to bat and bowl twice1. The format of the cricket card game mimics two cricket innings, per team, per game.

Whether it is the cricket yard game or the cricket card game, cricket is fun to play. It may take a few practice card games to understand the rules of the game fully. It is especially fun if you use the additional Umpires decision rules (included towards the end), which keep both players interested and focused on the game at all times.

What You Will Need to Play

  • 2 players
  • pack of 52 standard playing cards
  • paper and pencil for each player to keep their own score card
  • a coin for the 'toss'

A card game always goes well with a few drinks to sip on. In the cricket sports game the drinks trolley is pushed out onto the field to re-hydrate players who are standing in the hot sun.

The Cricket Toss

Decide who is going to bat and who is going to be bowl.

In the sport cricket, a coin determines who will be batting first. Cricketers call this the 'Toss'. It is a game of heads or tails. One player calls, heads, the other tails and an Umpire flips a coin in the air. The player who calls the side that lands facing up can choose to bat or bowl first. A player may decide to bowl first if they are uncertain about the condition of the wicket, especially after it has rained.

Different ways to decide who goes first

  • "Toss" to see who decides
  • Each player draws a card from the pack. The card with the highest value can decide
  • Draw straws of different lengths
  • Roll dice

1st Player Bats

The person batting has the first turn at the wicket.

Taking all 52 cards, the player who is batting

  1. shuffles
  2. deals ten cards, displaying the cards face up in a triangle / pyramid formation (as shown in the image above)
  3. covers any of the accepted patterns with a new card from the pack
  4. finishes their turn when there are no more card patterns to cover
  5. adds up their batting score (the value of each card placed plus the bonus points for the recognized card patterns)

The player's turn finishes when there are no more card patterns to cover the player's turn ends.

The batting score represents the total number of runs the batting player has achieved. Depending on the bowling player's turn, this may be all the runs the batting player scores in this innings. The batting player may have a chance to have a second turn to add more runs after the bowling player's turn.

LBW!

A young player 'bowling' covers up a straight taking a wicket.
A young player 'bowling' covers up a straight taking a wicket.

2nd Player Bowls

The person bowling goes second in this card game.

The 2nd player who is bowling

  1. shuffles
  2. deals ten cards, face up in the same triangle formation.
  3. covers up any cards that form a recognised card pattern with a new card from the pack
  4. finishes their turn when they have covered ten patterns (ten wickets), or if less than ten, have no more card patterns to cover.

When the player who is bowling covers up a card pattern, they are taking a wicket from the other player.

The game at this stage can go two ways:

  1. If the bowler has taken less than ten wickets, the same innings continues and the 1st player has a second chance to score more runs. After the 1st player's second turn, the bowler has another chance to take more wickets. The scoring continues from the first turn.
  2. If the bowler takes all ten wickets (ten card patterns) in the first turn then the innings finishes. The batter and bowler swap roles.

A single innings is over once the bowling player takes ten wickets in either the first or second turns, or when both players have completed two turns.

Ball and bat games

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New Innings

Second Innings

Both players now swap roles and a new innings begins. The starting batsman (1st player) becomes the bowler and the bowler (2nd player) becomes the batsman. This is the second innings of the cricket card game.

Third Innings

Once both players have had a chance to bat and bowl, the game repeats for a third innings.

In Test Cricket, there are a possible two innings per team per game and this is reflected in the way this game is played.

Fourth Innings

A fourth innings occurs if the 1st player's accumulated run score is greater than the 2nd player's accumulated run score. If the 1st player has more runs on the board than the 2nd player at the end of the third innings, player two is the winner.

If a fourth innings is played, the 2nd player will need to add at least one more run to their accumulated score, then the 1st player's accumulated score.

When a fourth innings is played, the game can get very exciting and may end in a draw.

Cricket Card Game Scoring

Each player is responsible for keeping their own cricket scores.

Runs - Batting

Players add up the values of the cards they have tabled, plus the bonus points attributed to each of the covered card patterns.

Example per Innings

14 cards tabled in total

4 x Aces = 1 value per card =4

1 x 7 = 7

2 x 8 = 16

3 x 2 = 6

1 x King = 13

1 x 6 = 6

1 x 9 = 9

1 x 3 = 3

Total of the value of the cards = 64

Card patterns covered

4 x Aces = 6

3 x 2 = 4

Total of card pattern bonus runs = 10

Total runs = 74

Plus runs scored in second turn (if a second turn is taken)


Wickets - Bowling

For each card pattern that is successfully covered, the bowler takes a wicket.

Example per Innings

Each card pattern covered = wicket

Turn 1 - Card patterns covered

Four of a kind = 1 wicket

Three of a kind = 1 wicket

1 Straight = 1 wicket

Total of card pattern wickets = 3 wickets taken


Turn 2 - Card patterns covered

3 Three of a kinds = 3 wickets

2 Straights = 2 wickets

1 x Four of a kind = 1 wicket

1 X Flush = 1 wicket

Total of card pattern wickets = 10 wickets taken = ALL OUT!

Card Game Structure

Innings One 1st Player

  • Batting player or 1st player bats (1st turn) until no more patterns can be covered
  • Bowling player or 2nd player bowls (1st turn) until no more patterns can be covered or when ten patterns have been successfully covered, whichever comes first
  • If the bowling player did not take all 10 wickets on first turn, the batting player bats again (2nd turn)
  • If there are still wickets left to take until all 10 wickets are taken or no more patterns exist the bowling player bowls again (2nd turn)

Innings Two 2nd Player

  • Batting player or 2nd player bats (1st turn) until no more patterns can be covered
  • Bowling player or 1st player bowls (1st turn) until no more patterns can be covered or when ten patterns have been successfully covered, whichever comes first
  • If the bowling player did not take all 10 wickets on first turn, the batting player bats again (1st turn)
  • If there are still wickets left to take until all 10 wickets are taken or no more patterns exist the bowling player bowls again (1st turn)

Innings Three 1st Player

  • Batting player or 1st player bats (2nd turn) until no more patterns can be covered
  • Bowling player or 2nd player bowls (2nd turn) until no more patterns can be covered or when ten patterns have been successfully covered, whichever comes first
  • If the bowling player did not take all 10 wickets on first turn, the batting player bats again (2nd turn)
  • If there are still wickets left to take until all 10 wickets are taken or no more patterns exist the bowling player bowls again (2nd turn)

Innings Four 2nd Player

If the 2nd Player has a higher run total than the 1st Player, the 2nd Player does not have a 2nd Innings as they have already won the cricket test and the game ends.

  • Batting player or 2nd player bats (1st turn) until no more patterns can be covered
  • Bowling player or 1st player bowls (1st turn) until no more patterns can be covered or when ten patterns have been successfully covered, whichever comes first
  • If the bowling player did not take all 10 wickets on first turn, the batting player bats again (2nd turn)
  • If there are still wickets left to take until all 10 wickets are taken or no more patterns exist the bowling player bowls again (2nd turn)


The winner is the player who has the most runs on the board for the test match.

Cricket Game Flow Chart

Use this Cricket card game flowchart to assist with the game's progress
Use this Cricket card game flowchart to assist with the game's progress

Card Patterns

Patterns
Batting
Bowling
Straight (any suit 3 cards or more)
"Wide" - The batting player gets an extra run for wide ball.
"LBW!" - Leg before wicket. The bowling playing gets a wicket as the batsman has tried to stop the bowl with his body.
Flush (same suit 3 cards or more)
"Leg bye" - The batting player scores an extra point or run.
"LBW!" - Leg before wicket. The bowling playing gets a wicket as the batsman has tried to stop the bowl with his body.
Three of a kind
"Four" The ball has reached the fence line and results in four easy runs. The player adds an extra four runs to their score
"Catch" - The ball is caught after leaving the cricket bat by a field player
Four of a kind
"Six" The ball is batted out of the field and into the stands.
"Bowled out!" - The bowler hits the wickets with the ball
The patterns must occur either a linear or group formation. Check out the Card Pattern Examples below.

Card Pattern Example

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Four of a kind pattern with four aces. The player would place new cards over these aces. If the player is batting, they score an extra six runs.  If the player is bowling, they take a wicket.Sequential pattern with a 9, 10 and Jack.  Sequential patterns do not have to be of the same suit.Three of a kind pattern showing three twos in the bottom row.
Four of a kind pattern with four aces. The player would place new cards over these aces. If the player is batting, they score an extra six runs.  If the player is bowling, they take a wicket.
Four of a kind pattern with four aces. The player would place new cards over these aces. If the player is batting, they score an extra six runs. If the player is bowling, they take a wicket.
Sequential pattern with a 9, 10 and Jack.  Sequential patterns do not have to be of the same suit.
Sequential pattern with a 9, 10 and Jack. Sequential patterns do not have to be of the same suit.
Three of a kind pattern showing three twos in the bottom row.
Three of a kind pattern showing three twos in the bottom row.

Umpires decision

To add more excitement to the card game Cricket, each player calls out the type of pattern they are covering in their innings. The call must come before they cover the pattern with the first card.

If the player forgets to call out the name, the opposing player can call out "Umpire!" prior to the last card being placed on the pattern.

When "Umpire!" is called, and the player has not called the type of pattern, or has called the wrong type of pattern, the player can still cover that pattern, allowing for fresh cards to be played. However if the player is

  • a batsman, they lose the additional run points
  • a bowler, they lose the ability to take a wicket

Fun Cricket Highlights from 2005

What card games have you played that mimic a sport?

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 21 months ago from Oklahoma

      Looks like fun. I love card games and am always looking for new ones to play.

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