For a while now, I've been convinced that if someone understood baseball, I could explain cricket to them relatively easily. And by understanding baseball, I'm not talking about the crazy intricacies and nuances of the sport. You don't need to know when the "infield fly" rule takes effect or how the batting order is affected by a double-switch; I just need you to have a handle on the concept of the pitcher-batter interaction and the difference between a fly ball (or line drive) and a groundball.
If you have just that much of a grasp of the basics of baseball, you can understand cricket.
That's what this site is about.
In this section, I'll use a lot of cricket and baseball terms interchangeably. It's just an easier way to explain things. The rest of the CricAmerica site will be a lot more jargonly accurate, I promise.
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game where runs are generally scored by having the two on-field members of the batting team successfully trade positions after a ball is hit into play by one of the batters. There are a good number of exceptions to this basic rule, but if you just took this one fact into your first cricket-watching experience, you'll have a surprisingly good sense of what's going on.
The most obvious thing you'll notice when watching cricket is that it isn't played on a baseball field. Instead of having areas that are in-play (between the first base and third base lines and extending to the fence) and areas that are out-of-play (anything outside of the first or third base lines), in cricket, there are no baselines, bases, or foul ground. The ball can be hit anywhere.
For that reason, the interaction between the bowler (pitcher) and batsman (batter) takes place in the center of the field. Cricket stadiums are often referred to as "ovals" because they're shaped, well, like ovals. Size-wise, the longer diameter of the oval is a minimum of 450 feet and the shorter diameter is 195 feet. (I wasn't actually sure that ovals have diameters in a technical sense, but I just checked -- and they do!)
Similarly, if the batter swings and misses at a bowled ball -- or fouls tips it backwards -- and his momentum carries him forward and out of what's essentially the batter's box, the wicket keeper (catcher) can put him out by knocking over the wicket with the ball if he was able to catch it. This is pretty much like getting picked off.
(I used the turn "foul tip" twice just now. I'm using it only to refer to a ball being tipped backwards. Remember, there are no foul balls in cricket because there's no foul territory.)
The way the batting team scores runs is pretty easy to understand. If the batter hits the ball and he and his non-batting partner (the "non-striker") are able to switch positions on the pitch, the team scores a run. This usually happens when a ball gets slightly past one of the infielders. (Just as in baseball, there are infielders and outfielders -- they just have cooler names for the various positions.)