Innings (cricket)

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Innings is a term of uncertain origin that is used in cricket. The same word applies to both the singular and plural forms, so a cricketer might refer to "an innings" and "both innings". This contrasts with baseball in which the singular is "inning".

Earliest known record

In use since time immemorial, the earliest known record of the term concerns a match on Wednesday, 5 August 1730 at Blackheath, Kent between Kent and London. The London-based newspaper St James Evening Post reported on Saturday, 8 August: "'Twas thought that the Kentish champions would have lost their honours by being beat at one innings if time had permitted". This is the first time that the word "innings" is found in contemporary records. Incidentally, it is also the first time that the word "champions" is found in a team sense, which is significant because it confirms that the idea of a champion county was already well established among cricket's followers. Furthermore, the match was apparently drawn and is the earliest known instance of this result.[1][2][3]

Usage in cricket

An innings is one of the divisions of a match during which one team takes its turn to bat. Innings is the subject of Law 13 in The Laws of Cricket.[4]

In a first-class match, there are up to four innings with each team due to bat twice (in practice, this is not always the case). In a limited overs match, there are only two innings with each team batting once. The term is also used with the meaning of "score" for both the team and each individual batsman. For example, it may be said that "he played an innings of 101", meaning that the player scored 101 in his innings. Similarly, it may be said that the team had a first innings (score) of 501.[4]

Usage outside cricket

The term can generally be taken as a reference to the time during which someone possesses something and, colloquially, the phrase "a good innings" means a long life.[5][6]


  1. Leach, From Lads to Lord's – 1730.
  2. Buckley, page 4.
  3. Maun, page 130.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Law 13 – The Innings. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).
  5. Chambers, page 768.
  6. Oxford, page 733.


  • Buckley, G. B.: Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket. Cotterell (1935).
  • Chambers: The Chambers Dictionary, 10th Edition. Chambers Harrap (2006).
  • Leach, John: From Lads to Lord's – 1730. Stumpsite (2007).
  • Marylebone Cricket Club: The Laws. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).
  • Maun, Ian: From Commons to Lord's, Volume One: 1700 to 1750. Roger Heavens (2009).
  • Oxford University: Oxford English Dictionary, 11th Edition. Oxford University Press (2004).