One of the big confusions between baseball and cricket is the lingo. In baseball a pitch is the throwing of a ball; in cricket it’s the thing a ball bounces on before it arrives where the batsman’s standing. In baseball, the catcher’s the guy behind home plate; in cricket, it’s any fielder in whose hands the ball lands without touching the ground. You get the idea.
Luckily, sometimes the lingo matches up, and just such an occasion happened today, with the “tie.” England were playing India in the round-robin stage of the cricket World Cup. India scored a formidable 338 all out in their 50 overs. To everyone’s surprise (including possibly their own) England were cruising to victory when they collapsed. They lost wickets and the runs dried up. With only three overs to go (18 balls) England still had 32 runs to get—a tough, but not impossible ask. Seventeen balls and a few lusty blows later, they found themselves with one ball to go and two runs to win. The batsman (Graeme Swann) hit the final delivery and ran . . . one run. England ended at 338 for 8 wickets. Same number of runs, no winner. A tie. Each team gets a point in their division.
Now you might think that the team with the fewer number of wickets lost (i.e. England) would win. You’d be wrong: only the number of runs counts as a victory or loss. Unlike in baseball, where 99.9 percent you go on (and on . . . and on . . .) until there’s a winner, cricket tends to like to marshal its time. So, you might ask, what happens in the knockout stage of the competition if it’s a tie? Well, the answer is that each team has a do-or-die “super-over“: six balls of wham-bam to see who can score the most runs. It’s like penalty kicks at the end of a soccer game—i.e. ugly, contra the spirit of the sport, and to be avoided at all costs. Luckily, since ties are incredibly rare in one-day cricket, such events are few and far between.