What Is an Innings in Cricket?

innings in cricket
We answer the question of what is an innings in cricket. Image by Anil Sharma on Pexels

If you’re new to the game of cricket, you may have heard the term “innings” being used, but what is an innings in cricket? What does this term mean and how is it relevant to the game?

In this article, we’ll explain what an innings is and how it works in cricket. Innings are the way the game is divided and is one of the first things you’ll learn about when you get into the game. This is a very basic cricketing principle.

The Concept of an Innings in Cricket

In cricket, an innings is a way of dividing the game. In one day formats of the game, both teams have one innings batting and one innings bowling and fielding. An innings in cricket refers to a team’s turn to bat and score runs.

You may hear the term used to describe a team or an individual performance. A “good innings” is a term that might be used to describe an individual’s performance, usually used to describe batting. The term has made its way into the English vernacular, as people may also use this to refer to somebody that lives to a grand old age!

How an Innings Progresses

During an innings, two batters take turns facing the bowler and trying to score runs. When one batter gets out, they are replaced by the next in the batting order.

The innings can end in a variety of different ways:

  • All ten batsmen are dismissed (i.e., the team is “all out”).
  • The team declares its innings closed (usually in Test cricket) when it believes it has enough runs.
  • The allotted number of overs is completed (in limited-overs cricket such as ODIs and T20s).
  • The match ends due to external factors like weather or the end of the scheduled time.

Types of Innings in Different Cricket Formats

Different cricket formats have a different approach to innings. An innings in the one day formats and shorter versions of the game are different from that in test cricket.

Test Cricket Innings

Test cricket is the oldest and longest format of the game, with matches played over five days. Each team gets two innings in a test match, and the team that scores the most runs across their two innings wins the match. This is crucial to differentiate between longer formats of the game. Each batter gets to bat twice, which. is not something that T20 and short formats can say.

The same is true of tournaments like the County Championship, another longer format of the game where the teams compete over many days, often four.

One-Day International (ODI) Innings

One-day international cricket is a shorter format of the game, with matches taking place in one day (the clue is in the name, of course). Each team gets one innings, and the team that scores the most runs in that innings wins the match. Crucially, ODI innings (and most other one day formats) are capped at 50 overs.

Twenty20 (T20) Innings

Twenty20 cricket is the shortest format of cricket, with innings capped at 20 overs. Each team gets one innings, and the team that scores the most runs in that innings wins the match. This is an aggressive form of the game where the batters usually try to score runs quickly.

Key Events During an Innings

A wicket is taken when a batsman is dismissed via one of the ways to get out in cricket. When a wicket is taken, the batting team loses one of its ten players, and the remaining batsmen continue the innings. The innings ends when all 10 wickets are taken, or when the batting team overtakes the total set for them.

Batting and Bowling Strategy

An innings is used to strategise for both the batting and bowling teams. The batting order is one of the most important aspects of the game and people tend to have a specialist role in the innings.

  • Opening Batsmen. Typically, the most technically sound players who can handle the new ball and set a foundation.
  • Middle Order. Batsmen who can build on the start and stabilise the innings, often good at playing both pace and spin and scoring quickly.
  • Lower Order. Includes all-rounders and bowlers, who may contribute with quick runs towards the end, but don’t tend to be the strongest batters.

Strategic decisions in a cricket innings are vital to the success of both batting and bowling sides. Effective strategies involve a deep understanding of the game, the conditions, the opposition, and the players’ strengths and weaknesses. You might hear the commentators refer to an “aggressive innings” for example. What does this mean?

The bowling team also uses the innings to pace their attack and strategise, opening bowlers are often those that can get the ball swinging around, while spin may be reserved for later in the innings as the pitch degrades. We see this more in long formats of the game.

Managing over rates is one way, ensuring a good over rate to maintain pressure on the batting side. Balancing between quick overs and allowing time for strategic field changes. In limited overs innings, bowlers are also limited in how many overs they can bowl.

Pressure situations in the game call for different types of bowling, and bowlers aim to build pressure by bowling dot balls and creating scoring droughts. Using key bowlers in crunch situations (e.g., death overs in limited-overs cricket).


So, what is an innings? An innings in cricket refers to a team’s turn to bat and score runs. Each team gets two innings in a test match, while in limited overs formats like ODI and T20, each team gets one innings to score as many runs as possible.

Understanding the concept of innings is essential to follow the game of cricket but also helps to appreciate the strategies employed by teams and players during a match.

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