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The Devil's Dictionary
of Cricket

Miss Frances Bush, Spinster
With assistance from her great-nephew, Ambrose Bush

We are enormously in debt to Miss Fanny Bush and her great nephew who have graciously consented to provide CricketUSA® with this entertaining and informative dictionary of cricket terms, spiced with just a pinch of the devil.

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Across the line -- (of batting shot) in which the bat swings across the path of the ball, rather than along it. Risky, since it requires expert timing to make good contact.

AGM -- See Annual General Meeting.

Agricultural shot -- See Cow shot.

All out -- The batting team is said to be all out when ten of its eleven batsmen are dismissed. The eleventh batsman cannot continue without a partner, and is recorded as 'not out' in the scorebook.

All-rounder -- A player who can both bat and bowl, or occasionally, both bat and keep wicket. (Bowler-wicketkeeper all-rounders are a rare breed.) Strictly speaking, a true all-rounder would be worth his place as a specialist in either role, although such players at Test level come along very infrequently. As a guide, an all-rounder's batting average ought to be at least equal to his bowling average. A true all-rounder can bat at number 6 (See Batting order), thus giving the side the 'ideal' balance of five bowlers, six batsmen and a specialist wicketkeeper. I.T.Botham (b.1955), who scored 5200 runs and took 383 wickets in 102 Tests between 1977 and 1992, was the last to fill this role for England.

Annual General Meeting -- A requirement under English law of any private members' club, at which accounts are presented, officers elected and the club's policy decided for the year to come.

Appeal -- The fielding side's invitation to the umpire to give a batsman out, answered with an upraised finger or a call of 'not out'. Any member of the side may make an appeal, but if the fielding captain feels a batsman has been given out wrongly - for example, a catch not taken cleanly - he may withdraw the appeal and reinstate the batsman.

Arm ball -- A finger-spinner's delivery bowled without spin, in the hope of deceiving the batsman into allowing for turn that does not come.

Ashes -- Test series between England and Australia are played for The Ashes. In 1883, Australia beat England at The Oval for the first time in England. This led an English sporting paper, The Sporting Times, to publish a mock obituary of English cricket, which concluded with the words, "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia." Accounts vary, but the 'body' was in fact a bail (or two, or a stump) which had been burned by "certain ladies." The ashes were placed in a tiny, goblet-shaped urn only four inches high and the urn was presented to the Honorable Ivo Bligh (later Lord Darnley). In his will, Lord Darnley bequeathed the urn to the M.C.C. Nowadays, the urn itself is kept permanently in the Long Room at Lord's, but the side that last won a Test series between the two countries is said to hold The Ashes. In the event of a tied series, the holding country retains The Ashes. After the present series, The Ashes will next be contested in the Australian summer of 1998-99.

Aunt Fanny -- See Bush, Frances Jemima.

Average, batting -- The total of a batsman's runs during the period for which the average is calculated, divided by the number of his completed innings, i.e. the number of times he was out in that period. An average of 40 is considered proficient, 50 outstanding. D.G.Bradman (Australia) averaged 99.6 in Tests.

Average, bowling -- The total of runs scored off a bowler in the period to which the average refers, divided by the number of wickets he took in that period. A proficient bowler will aim for an average of less than 30.

AXA Equity and Law -- See Competitions, domestic.


Backing up -- Backing up: (1) Non-striker's action in walking up the pitch as the bowler bowls, in order to be ready for a quick run (similar to 'taking a lead' in baseball.) As the ball is in play at this point, he risks being run out if the bowler spots him out of his ground, although some batsmen seem to regard such a dismissal as unsporting conduct on the bowler's part, rather than sloppy cricket on their own. (2) Fielder's action in taking a position on the opposite side of the wicket from the fielder throwing the ball, in order to prevent overthrows. Its absence is the principal cause of recrimination within club second XIs.

Backward -- Fielding position prefix indicating 'slightly behind square' - usually used only as backward point or backward square leg.

Bad light -- The cause of several near-riots in Test match crowds. The law makes provision for the umpires to suspend play if, in their opinion, there is a risk of serious injury to the batsmen due to poor visibility. Recently, however, their concern appears to have been more for the batsmen's wickets than their safety, hence the spectators' disgruntlement. Many one-day matches are now played under floodlights; first class playing conditions do not at present allow this, but moves are afoot to permit their use as a supplement to natural light in Test matches. Indeed, floodlights have been used to keep the teams on the field during Australia's 1997-8 series against New Zealand and South Africa.

Bad luck, mate -- Remark made by the batsmen in the fielding side to a dismissed opponent who, in trying to hit a good-length ball through the covers with his bat at an angle, has been bowled off the inside edge of the bat.

Bails -- The two pegs that are held horizontally in grooves at the top of the stumps. The bails and stumps together comprise a wicket. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the wicket.

Ball -- (1) Constructed of a cork centre wound with string, with a cover of polished red leather, a cricket ball weighs 5.5 oz. At most levels of the game, each innings begins with a new ball, whose gradual softening and loss of shine cause its behaviour to change as the innings progresses. (2) A delivery from the bowler.

Ball tampering -- Currently out of fashion as a topic for cricketing debate, but much in vogue following England's Test series against Pakistan in 1992, in which a ball was changed by the umpires without explanation, and South Africa in 1994. Ball tampering takes two main forms, both of which are illegal. Some bowlers use tools or their fingernails to raise the seam, thereby making it more likely to swing. More recently, bowlers have damaged the surface of one side of the ball, making reverse swing easier to achieve.

Barmy Army -- England's hardcore travelling support on winter tours, readily identifiable by their red faces, bare, invariably sunburnt torsoes, beer bellies and what might loosely be called singing. Recent (March 1998) events have given them a problem, in that their signature chant relies heavily on the scansion of "Atherton's Barmy Army". They - alone - must be disappointed that Adam Hollioake will not be succeeding to the captaincy, since the only other likely candidates, Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain, don't scan nearly so well. They may be able to do something with Ramprakash in a couple of years, though.

Bat -- The wooden paddle with which the batsman defends his wicket and scores his runs. The law limits its width to 4.25 inches and its length to 38 inches, although such a bat would be too long even for a batsman of six foot five. There is no limit on weight, although most bats weigh between 36 and 48 ounces. The blade of the bat has a flat face, slightly rounded at the edges; the back is shaped so that the blade is only about an inch thick at the shoulders, but swells to form a hump about six inches from the toe. This corresponds to the middle or 'sweet spot' of the bat, where its hitting power is greatest. The handle is made of as many as 12 pieces of cane, with rubber leaves to provide springing. The quality of the handle can make a huge difference to the feel and performance of a bat, so much so that most makers offer a 'reblading' service, where a cracked or worn-out blade is replaced, so the batsman can continue with a trusted handle. Many modern handles are oval in section, which allows the batsman to judge the correct position of his hands more easily than a round handle. The handle is wound with string and covered with one or more tubular rubber grips, according to the batsman's preference and the size of his hands. Replacing a grip is a job akin to fitting a tyre to a tractor wheel - only much, much harder. Do not try this at home.

Bat-pad -- Fielding position close in on off or leg side, too close to catch a well-hit ball, but ready for one that hits the edge of the bat and rebounds from the pad.

Batting order -- The order in which the members of a team go out to bat. A batsman is referred to individually by a number, according to his position in the order. Numbers 1 and 2 open the innings (number 1 faces the first ball), number 3 comes in at the fall of the first wicket, and so on down to number 11, who comes in when nine wickets have fallen. Typically, numbers 1 to 6 are specialist batsmen, the wicketkeeper bats at 7, followed by the specialist bowlers. Top-order (1,2,3) batsmen have to be adept against pace and the new ball; 4 and 5 will often be the two most attacking batsmen, while 5 or 6 may be the best place for a 'spin specialist', who is most useful when the ball is older and the slow bowlers are in action. Below number 6, specialization ceases to matter, and the order is decided on a linear scale of ability. C.R.Williams had one outing at 8 this season, but otherwise seldom bats higher than 10.

Batting shots -- See Block, Chinese cut, Cut, Drive, Edge, Flash, French cut, Glance, Harrow drive, Hook, Late cut, Leg glance, Lofted drive, Pull, Reverse sweep, Slog, Square cut, Sweep.

BBC -- British Broadcasting Corporation. Presently celebrating the 75th anniversary of its inception as the British Broadcasting Company in 1922, the BBC became the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1924. It is not, as is commonly believed abroad, the broadcasting arm of the British state - witness the Conservative government's fury that the BBC dared to report the civilian casualties in the US raid on Libya in 1986. The BBC's domestic radio and television services are funded not from taxes but by the 100-pound annual licence fee paid by owners of television sets, and by revenue from sales of programmes abroad, titles such as BBC Good Trousers Magazine, and tickets to fights over Teletubbies dolls. (The BBC is to be commended, incidentally, for its philanthropic action in helping Mike Gatting, Ian Botham, Andy Moles and Merv Hughes on a new career in childrens' entertainment at the end of their playing days. For those who have no idea what we're talking about, this picture probably won't help.)

BBC TV provides live coverage of all the Test matches in the English summer, although with annoying interruptions for such trivial events as Wimbledon and Royal Ascot. (How can a two-minute horse race take up 20 minutes of TV time? It gets more preamble and post-(non-)event blather than an entire day's play, and all for a load of walking dogfood, for heaven's sake!) Ahem. The BBC also covers the later rounds of the NatWest Trophy, and occasional Sunday League thrashes. Meanwhile, BBC Radio covers all this and more under the banner of Test Match Special. (It tends to be called TMS even when the match it is covering is a One-Day International or the Benson and Hedges final.) No horses here, the only interruptions are for the Shipping Forecast - Dogger, ct Fisher b German Bight, Forties, that sort of thing - although I'm sure the seamen would prefer to have even this shifted a few minutes so as not to spoil the flow.

Beamer -- A fast, head-high full toss. Beamers are dangerous, and a bowler who bowls one on purpose will be warned by the umpire and, if he persists, prevented from bowling again in that innings.

Behind the bowler's arm -- Most cricket grounds have large, white sightscreens at either end, to provide a clear, unobstructed background against which the batsman can see the ball. Anything moving in front of or close to the screen at the bowler's end causes a distraction, and play will be held up until it is removed. On a club ground, such delays are usually caused by wandering dogs, American tourists or members of the batting side walking the boundary when they think the captain might be looking for someone to take over the scorebook. At a Test match, it is more likely to be a corporate guest in a hideous blazer, wobbling back from his hospitality lunch at ten to three. (In English Tests, play resumes at 1:40.)

Benaud, Richie -- Former Australian captain (b. 1930) and the first player to take 200 wickets and score 2000 runs for that country. Now the best TV commentator on cricket or, arguably, any sport. Perhaps most noteworthy is his technique of saying nothing until he has something worth saying. To appreciate the value of this, see how long you can listen to Tony Lewis saying 'one more run to Steve Waugh' before you hit the Mute button. Benaud's only weakness is a peculiar fascination with the supposed unfairness of the front-foot no-ball law, but even this seems to have diminished in recent years.

Benefit -- The traditional reward given each season by an English county club to one of its long-serving players, usually in his tenth full season with the club. It consists of a season-long programme of fund-raising events, usually special matches and dinners. The proceeds are given favourable tax treatment by the Inland Revenue, since the benefit is intended to provide the player's retirement fund. The England captain, Mike Atherton, recently declared a profit of 307,000 pounds (500,000 USD) from his benefit with Lancashire during the 1997 season. This is an exceptional sum - indeed a club record. 100,000 pounds is more typical for less high-profile players. The benefit system originated at a time when professional cricketers were very poorly paid (although even today, only a few players make pots of money from the game). Many observers now regard it as outdated and counter-productive, since county committees, understandably reluctant to deny a loyal but underachieving player security in his retirement, will keep him on until his benefit season, often at the expense of a young player in need of experience. Those same observers would like to see benefits replaced by a more equitable, centrally-funded pension scheme for professional players.

Benefit seaon -- See Benefit.

Benson and Hedges Cup -- See Competitions, domestic.

Best bowling -- The occasion on which a bowler has bowled most consistently or effectively, and done most to help his team win the match. Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? In fact, it tends to be used as a statistician's equivalent to a batsman's highest score, and is simply the occasion on which he took most wickets in an innings, with the number of runs conceded used as a tie-breaker. So a bowler's career summary may show his 'best bowling' as six for 150, when the opposition made 600 and won by an innings, ignoring the time he took five for 25 and turned a low-scoring match in his side's favour.

Block -- A defensive batting shot, purely to keep the ball off the wicket.

Blocker -- A batsman of sound defensive technique, and sometimes little else. May be useful as an opener, where his sheer stubbornness can blunt the new-ball bowling and bore the bowlers into making mistakes. Later in the innings, his lack of scoring shots can stall the team's momentum and hand the initiative back to the opposition. G. Boycott (b.1940) played this role for England in 108 Tests between 1964 and 1982, making 8114 runs; the present captain, M.A.Atherton (b.1968) does it now.

Blockhole -- The depression sometimes made in a dusty pitch where the batsmen take guard. A ball 'in the blockhole' is a yorker-length delivery.

Bodyline -- Tactic employed by England during the 1932-33 Ashes series in Australia. By setting a predominantly leg side field and having his fast bowlers bowl at the batsman's body to generate catches, England captain D.R.Jardine won the Ashes but came close to destroying the Commonwealth. In the aftermath of this notorious series, the law was changed to limit the number of fielders behind square on the leg side to two, to prevent further use of this tactic.

Bosie -- See Googly

Bouncer -- A fast, shortpitched ball, bowled to rise off the pitch to the height of the batsman's chest or head. Legal, and less dangerous than the beamer, but the umpire may still warn and remove a bowler who bowls bouncers merely to intimidate the batsman.

Boundary -- (1) The edge of the playing area, usually 60 to 80 yards from the wicket and marked by a line, rope or fence. In this diagram the boundary would be represented by the black line bordering the edge of the diagram. However, in practice, there is no fixed size or shape for the field, although large deviations from a low-eccentricity ellipse are discouraged. (2) A ball that crosses the boundary, scoring four runs if it touches the ground first, or six if it reaches the boundary on the full.

Bowled -- The most basic, and still the most satisfying, way to get a batsman out. The batsman is out bowled if the ball, either straight from the bowler's hand or by way of the batsman's bat or body, hits his wicket with enough force to dislodge at least one bail. Incidentally, if proof were needed that cricket is the natural game of the pedant, the MCC sees fit to state in the laws that if the ball hits the the wicket by way of the pad, even if it satisfies the criteria for an lbw, the batsman is out bowled, not lbw. How many bowlers, having uprooted the off stump, would appeal for lbw? I suppose it must have happened.

Bowling, bowler, bowl -- A player who bowls is known as a bowler. Bowling is the act of propelling the ball with a straight arm towards the batsman's wicket. The ball is not thrown - if the bowler straightens his elbow in delivery, the umpire calls 'no-ball' - hence the need for fast bowlers to run up to 30 yards to build up sufficient speed. The bowler will usually aim to hit the ball on the pitch before it reaches the batsman - a full toss is easy to hit. A fast bowler will bowl at speeds in the range of 80-90 mph. A medium pace bowler will bowl from 60-80 mph. A spin bowler will typically bowl at speeds in the range of 45-55 mph.

Bowling a maiden over -- To bowl an over in which no runs are scored off the bat, nor from a wide or no-ball.

[Editor's note: Whereas we realize that this traditional best man's joke was outlawed by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1927, we feel in the interest of bringing cricket and all its nuances to America, it should be repeated in this glossary.]

Bowling analysis -- The section at the bottom of the scoresheet in which each ball bowled is recorded. At the end of the innings, this data is then used to produce summary statistics for each bowler, his 'bowling figures'. The values usually given are the number of overs bowled, the number of those that were maidens, the number of runs conceded and the number of wickets taken. Sometimes these are given just as numbers, without explanation, but the sequence is always the same, so '17-5-36-3' means '17 overs, five maidens, three for 36'. Incidentally, partial overs, usually where the innings ended midway through an over, are recorded as pseudo-decimals, so '12.5 overs' means 12 overs and five balls.

Bowling crease -- One of the two transverse lines at either end of the pitch, on which the wickets are set. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the pitch. Formerly significant in the definition of a no-ball, since 1967 the bowling crease has had no relevance during the game itself (see Benaud, Richie)

Bowling figures -- A bowler's summary statistics produced at the end of an innings. See Bowling analysis.

Box -- Curiously known in cricket catalogues as an 'abdominal protector', this is a batsman's best friend and the first piece of cricket equipment a new player should own. The only thing worse than tucking in a cold box from one's own bag is borrowing a warm, sweaty one from someone else's.

While we deem it inappropriate for a conservative web site like ours to present a photographic rendering of a box as it would appear in actual use, we thought that perhaps the photograph to the right (of West Indies captain Brian Lara taken only seconds after being struck "in the box" by a hard delivery from Andrew Caddick during the 1998 West Indies Tour) would suffice to convey the absolute importance of this vital piece of cricketing protective equipment. The photograph to the left, taken only seconds later (although we suppose it seemed more like a lifetime to Mr. Lara) would serve to drive home the idea to an even greater degree.

Bradman, D.G. -- Sir Donald Bradman (b.1908) dominated his chosen sport of cricket like no other has dominated any sport. Clearly the best batsman to have played the modern game he was a relentless accumulator of runs, often at a rapid rate. He holds or held almost too many records to tabulate. His Test record was such that he was only four runs short of averaging 100. No other player in the history of the game has averaged over 65 in international cricket. He took few risks, but was proficient with all strokes. His best scoring stroke was probably the pull, played all along the ground in the arc from mid on to backward square leg. He was an excellent field, particularly in the covers, and a capable leg spin bowler. He made 19 hundreds against England between 1928 and 1948, including two triple centuries and 6 double centuries. And of course, he set the world's record score of 452 not out vs. Queensland in 1930. He was Australia's captain between 1936 and 1948, during which time his side won 11 tests, to England's 3. He kept the Ashes through 4 series.

Broken wicket -- The wicket is said to be 'broken' or 'down' when one or both bails have been dislodged from their grooves by the ball. If - for example, when the batsmen are running overthrows from a rebound - a fielder wants to break a wicket whose bails are already off, he may first replace a bail, or knock or pull a stump from the ground while touching it with the ball. Don't worry - I've never seen this happen! See also Down wicket.

Bush, Frances Jemima -- England's foremost cricket fan, the author of this 'ere glossary. Frances Jemima Bush was born in Madras in 1924, the youngest of three children of William Bush, a District Commissioner in the Colonial Service. She had a conventional Colonial childhood - seven years of abusing the natives before being sent away to boarding school in England.

When her parents died in the terrible poppadom riots of 1933, nine-year-old Frances knew that she would never return to India. Fortunately, the end of her school term coincided with her uncle Richard's release, and from then on she spent the holidays on his farm in Wiltshire. It was there that she developed what was to be a life-long interest in meat in general and sausages in particular, and as she grew towards womanhood, her aptitude for handling a carcass was a source of great comfort to her uncle.

In 1942, Frances enlisted in the Women's Royal Air Force, where she met and fell in love with Roger Wright-Upham, a young officer who was serving in Wellingtons with her elder brother Ginger. The following year, however, both Roger and Ginger failed to return from a disastrous raid on a Bratwurst factory at Bremen, and Frances, heart-broken, vowed to devote herself to rebuilding the base's shattered morale by providing the young men around her with some home comforts. Her summers on the farm had equipped her well for this, and her cries of "Who's for toad-in-the-hole?" and "Get your spotted dick over here" soon made her a mess-tent favourite.

Frances was discharged from the WRAF on medical grounds early in 1944 and was taken on as a junior housemistress by a girls' boarding school near Hastings. Her accommodation was spartan, even by RAF standards, but what she missed most was the vibrancy of service life and the handsome young men at the base.

Help was at hand, though. The approach of D-Day brought a camp of American GIs to a neighbouring village, and Frances got the headmistress's approval to use the school's extensive facilities to arrange dinner-dances and entertainments for the men. Within weeks, Hastings was the US Army's most popular posting in England and the GIs so appreciated Frances's work that they brought her fabrics and furnishings to help make her rooms more hospitable.

Frances encouraged the headmistress to help her with the organization, and the GIs responded in kind. Soon, the headmistress had refurbished her own threadbare residence, and by the end of the War, the school had the funds for its long-awaited auditorium.

By this time, Frances had risen rapidly to become the school's senior housemistress, and when the old head retired in 1951, Frances was the automatic choice to succeed her. She held the post for over thirty years, throughout which she maintained the tradition of close contact with the US Air Force base established nearby after the War. In that time, the school grew from the modest institution it had been in 1944 to be one of the best-appointed schools in England. One notable Old Girl, now an eminent diplomat, said that it had done "More to improve Trans-atlantic relations than the Foreign Office could in a hundred years".

Frances retired in 1987, when flare-ups of an infection she believes dates from insect bites received during her childhood in India became more frequent. She was awarded the MBE for "Services to the Atlantic Alliance", and now lives with her sister Ginny in Tunbridge Wells. Her old affliction means she is no longer very mobile, but she keeps in touch with her old GI friends via the alt.fanny.bush newsgroup on the Internet, although recent official interest has forced her to curtail her involvement. When she can get out, she likes nothing better than a glass of sweet sherry and a spotted dick at the local Conservative Association.

[Editors note: None of which has the least bit to do with cricket, but we felt you should know where we're coming from.]

Bye -- Run scored from a ball that hit neither the batsman's bat nor his body. Rare at Test level, but can be the top scorer in a club side's innings.


Cabbage patch -- An under-prepared, uneven pitch on which the ball behaves unpredictably, making batting very difficult.

Calling -- Batsman's method of indicating to his partner whether or not he intends to run. One of the few truly simple things in cricket - if the ball goes in front of the wicket, the striker calls; square or behind the wicket, the non-striker does. Better still, there are only three calls: 'Yes' and 'No' are self-explanatory; 'Wait' acts as an amber light, for example, when the ball is hit hard at a fielder, who may or may not stop it cleanly. So why, so often, does it go so horribly wrong? Usually because batsmen change their minds. A favourite technique sees the striker hit the ball sweetly to extra-cover's left, bellow 'Yes' and set off for the other end, only to see the fielder fling himself full-length and stop the ball. Momentarily forgetting that the fielder has still to get the ball into his throwing hand and thence to the bowler, that he is already going the right way, and that his partner, having a head-start from backing-up, is already several yards further towards his end, the striker screams 'No, get back', helpfully holds up his free hand, traffic cop-style, and trots back to his wicket. His partner, meanwhile, has to do an abrupt about-face and try to beat the throw to the bowler's end. Extra-cover, meanwhile, has had time to regain his feet and send an easy, accurate throw to the bowler, who removes the bails while the hapless non-striker is three yards short of his ground. A batsman who does this to his partner should open his kit bag with great care when he returns to the dressing room.

Cap -- In first-class cricket, the sign that a player has been recognized as a full member of that particular team. A county player is awarded his cap once he has demonstrated that he can be a regular first-team player. From then on, he is a 'capped player', even if he prefers to wear a helmet, sunhat or Donald Duck mask on the field. A Test player receives his cap when he makes his first appearance for his country. In 1997, England revived the tradition in which the captain presents the cap to the new player on the field, although now there are cameras and microphones present, giving the new man the chance to mumble something about being honoured to be chosen and giving it his best shot with the rest of the lads. Each Test match a player plays for his country is also referred to as a 'cap', although the authorities consider one actual piece of headgear sufficient.

Captain -- The leader of a cricket team on the field, and held by the laws to be solely responsible for his team's conduct of the game. At international level, the captain's obligations extend to end-of-day press conferences and long solitary fishing trips to decide if he wants to lead the side to the West Indies. Such a high-pressure job can doubtless be stressful, but as Marcus Berkmann points out in his wonderful book Rain Men (required reading for all CricketUSA® students), it is unlikely that Mike Atherton has ever had to ring all his mates on the first morning of a Test match because Graeme Hick's wife says he has to stay home and put up some shelves. The lot of a club captain is seldom a happy one: not for him the tricky decision of whether to field a second spinner or to bolster the batting; he is more concerned about what to do when his two competent bowlers need a rest and he has only four varieties of dibbly-dobbly cannon fodder to choose from. This may be the reason that many club annual general meetings feature an unscheduled two-minute silence when the question is asked "So, who wants to be captain next year?"

Carrying his bat -- Strictly, used only of an opener who survives while all ten of his teammates are out.

Cart track -- See Cabbage patch.

Catches win matches -- Schoolmaster's favourite - probably out of the same book as 'would you put your feet on the furniture at home?' Trite but true.

Caught out -- When a fielder catches a batted ball before it touches the ground the batsman is 'caught out'. See also Out.

Caution -- The umpire's sanction against a bowler who infringes the provisions of Law 42, Unfair Play, against beamers, excessive bouncers and 'running on'. The bowler's first offence earns a caution; the second gets a final warning, and if he persists in offending, the bowler will be prevented from bowling again in that innings.

Century -- One hundred runs scored by a single batsman in a single innings. Multiples of one hundred are referred to as double and triple centuries. Fifty runs would be referred to as a 'half century'. While a partnership of 100 might be referred to as a 'century partnership', it would not simply be called a century. In fact, the term 'century' is slowly falling (if it is possible to fall slowly) out of favour - it is more common these days simply to speak of a batsman making 'a hundred', even if his actual score was 143. Similarly, a score of 71 might be the batsman's 'third fifty of the series', meaning his third innings of fifty or more runs. See also Hundred, Fifty.

Championships -- See Competitions, domestic.

Chance -- Opportunity to take a wicket, most often a catch.

Chinaman -- Stock delivery of left-arm wrist spinner, turning from righthanded batsman's off side to leg.

Chinese cut -- See French cut.

Clean bowled -- One of those mysterious parts of cricket's vocabulary that really belong under a separate heading of Redundancies. As far as we can tell, those who use it do so because they belong to the school of Never Use One Word Where Two Would Do - they think 'clean bowled' sounds more emphatic or impressive than simply 'bowled'. If they used it to indicate that the ball passed through the batsman's defence without touching bat or body, or that it removed a stump from the ground, there might be some sense in it; but they don't - 'bowled' is all it means, so 'bowled' is all one need say.

Clothing -- Most cricket clothing is white or off-white, or white with brownish-green knees and inexplicable stains elsewhere. Since there is no need to make a visual distinction between the two teams on the field, there are no 'home' or 'away' colours. Players wear white, full-length trousers, partly because they always have and partly to protect against the sun and the straps of their protective equipment, and loose-fitting, long- or short-sleeved shirts that still end up skin-tight on some club players. The other essential is boots, usually with metal-spiked soles to provide a secure grip. Fast bowlers' boots are cut higher to support the ankles. Depending on the weather, players may also wear long-sleeved or sleeveless V-neck sweaters, often trimmed at neck, waist and cuffs in the club colours, and a coloured cap or a coloured or white sunhat.

Club cricket -- Typically used to refer to recreational, amateur cricket, although there is tremendous variation within this band of the game.

Coffin -- Elongated, suitcase-like container for carrying cricket kit. Essential for international cricketing air travel, it's a bloody nuisance in a cramped club dressing room.

Coming on -- More usually heard as 'not coming on', this is a comment on the pace of the pitch, or rather, the amount of horizontal velocity the ball loses to the pitch as it bounces. A soft surface will slow the ball down more than a hard one, making it harder for a batsman to time his strokes by judging the speed of the ball from the bowler's hand. Such pitches tend to make for poor cricket, since a bad ball is more likely to go unpunished, and any deviation the bowler achieves is unlikely to happen fast enough to trouble the batsman.

And therein lie so many of the problems of modern cricket - how to prepare pitches on which the players can give their best. The 1998 Test series in the West Indies has highlighted the difficulty more starkly than ever.

Competitions, domestic -- England: The principal competition in England is the first-class County Championship. Each of the 18 counties plays each of the others in a four-day match, earning sixteen points for a win, eight for a tie or a draw with the scores level, three for any other draw, and up to eight bonus points for first-innings batting and bowling performances. (Intriguingly, Richie Benaud has calculated that the result of most recent Championships would have been the same if no bonus points had been awarded.) Though one might suppose that the County Championship would be won by the strongest first-class team in the country, there are reasons why this may not always happen. Because there is no time to reschedule rain-affected matches, a wet month can distort the result by denying a strong team the points for matches it would have expected to win. To make matters worse, a strong county like Surrey, four of whose batsmen are regulars in the England team, may have six matches in which it is unable to field its best team because of clashes with Test matches. The 1996 Champions, Leicestershire, and the 1997 winners, Glamorgan, each had only one England player. There have been many proposals to reform the County Championship, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that too many counties find themselves too early in the season with nothing left to play for. The most likely to be implemented, although not popular among the members of the weaker counties, is to split the Championship into two divisions, with the top two in the lower division taking the place of the bottom two in the upper division for the next season. For all its imperfections, though, County Championship cricket presents an absorbing spectacle and excellent value for money - at Warwickshire's Edgbaston ground, for example, a day's admission costs only six pounds.

Declining attendances at Championship matches in the early sixties prompted the introduction of the first one-day competition in 1962. In 1963, this took its present form as the Gillette Cup, a knockout competition played over 60 overs a side, with Minor Counties sides competing with the first-class teams. The competition culminates in a showpiece final at Lord's in early September. The competition became the NatWest Trophy in 1981, a time when (coincidentally?) the world's Test cricketers were sprouting beards. It remains the most interesting of the domestic one-day competitions, since the longer innings allows a less frantic style of play, with time to build an innings and a reasonable allowance of 12 overs per bowler. But those same long innings give the competition its biggest problem. The Lord's final is one of the game's big occasions, but the early September dusk necessitates a start at 10.30am, when the morning dew has not had time to dry and batting against seam bowlers is well-nigh impossible. For this reason, the captain winning the toss invariably puts his opponents in to bat, and all but a few finals have been won by the side batting second. Plans are afoot to move the final to August; the sense of occasion may be diminished a little, but the cricket will undoubtedly be better.

The Benson and Hedges Cup is nearing the end of its life, like many of its sponsor's customers. Inaugurated in 1972 and originally played over 55 overs a side, it is now played under One-Day International rules, with 50 overs a side and fielding restrictions for the first 15 overs of each innings. The competition opens in early May with round-robin matches in four regional groups. Eight teams qualify for the knock-out stages, leading to a final at Lord's in July.

Like the B&H, the Sunday League is doomed under the ECB's new plan for English cricket. It was inaugurated as the John Player League in 1969 and was contested on a play-everyone-once basis by the 17 (now 18) first-class counties. Matches are 40 overs a side, with bowlers limited to 8 overs each and a 15-yard run-up. When the present sponsor, AXA Equity and Law, took over in 1993, the format was changed to 50 overs a side, but this was unpopular with spectators, as it meant they had to miss the earlier start, or leave the pub before closing time, and the 40-over format was restored in 1994. Played in pyjamas, with a white ball, Sunday League matches present an unedifying spectacle of negative bowling, defensive fields and all-out, crash-bang-wallop batting. Few real cricket enthusiasts will miss it when the ECB replaces it, and the B&H, with a single, 50-over one-day league competition in 1999.

Corridor of uncertainty -- OK, I give up, we'll put this in. A usefully descriptive term worn thin with overuse, it is nowadays associated with Geoff Boycott in his TV commmentator's hat, but I believe the credit for its coining belongs to the Australian swing bowler Terry Alderman. It refers to the technique, of which Alderman was a master, of bowling a line fractionally wide of the off stump, so that the batsman cannot be sure whether or not he can safely leave the ball alone. If he plays at it, however, the slightest movement away is likely to take the edge and offer a catch to the wicketkeeper or slips.

County championships -- See Competitions, domestic.

County club -- Term usually used to refer to one of the eighteen first-class counties that compete in English domestic competitions. Another twenty counties (the Minor Counties) have representative teams, but these play mostly against one another, joining the first-class teams only in the one-day knockout NatWest Trophy competition. The club-based structure of the first-class game reflects its patrician, amateur origins. Even at the highest level, cricket was played by gentleman amateurs, with a few humble professionals to do the difficult bits, like bowling. (Not until after the Second World War was society ready for a professional, Leonard Hutton, to captain the England team.) Nowadays, the amateurs have gone but the club structure remains. Like any club, a County Cricket Club is owned by and run for its members, who decide major issues of policy at General Meetings but delegate day-to-day decisions to committees, including a Cricket Committee to take care of the team.

The first-class counties are: Derbyshire (main venue Race Course Ground, Derby) A promising 1997 ruined by dressing-room acrimony and contractual disputes with players. Crashed from 2nd in 1996 to 16th in the 1997 Championship. Durham (Riverside, Chester-le-Street) The 18th county to gain first-class status (in 1992). 17th place in 1997 an improvement on the norm. Essex (County Ground, Chelmsford) One of the strongest counties in recent years. 1997 NatWest Trophy winners but only 9th in the Championship. Glamorgan (Sophia Gardens, Cardiff) The 17th first-class county, and not actually English, but won the County Championship in 1997. Only one England player in a strong squad, so less weakened by Test calls than some rivals. Gloucestershire (County Ground, Bristol) W.G.Grace's county, but hasn't won much since he retired. 7th in 1997 was the best for some years. Hampshire (County Ground, Southampton) Won't win much until they get some bowlers. 14th in 1997. Kent (St Lawrence, Canterbury) Fell just short in the 1997 Championship chase, partly due to Test calls and injuries to key bowlers. 2nd in 1997. Lancashire (Old Trafford, Manchester) The biggest and richest club in the game. Powerful one-day team but ought to do better in the Championship (11th in 1997.) Leicestershire (Grace Road, Leicester) 1996 Champions, despite (or because of?) lack of big stars. 10th in 1997. Middlesex (Lord's, London) Another perennially strong county, 4th in 1997. Northamptonshire (County Ground, Northampton) Fortunes have ebbed since several key players passed their best. Still strong in the one-day game, but 15th in the Championship. Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge, Nottingham) Income from Test ground hasn't prevented under-achievement in recent seasons. 13th in 1997. Somerset (St James Road, Taunton) Another small club. 12th in 1997. Surrey (The Oval, London) Possibly the strongest on-paper club in England, but finished 8th in 1997. Suffered more than most from Test calls, but still lost games they should have won. Sussex (County Ground, Hove) Lost a captain, an England bowler and the entire management in 1997, and recovered to finish bottom of the Championship table. Warwickshire (Edgbaston, Birmingham) Won successive Championships and a roomful of trophies under Dermot Reeve in 1994 and 1995, but struggled since his injury-enforced retirement. Still reached the 1997 NatWest final and the top five of the Championship. Worcestershire (New Road, Worcester) Hugely successful in the late 1980s; reversed the decline in 1997 to take 3rd in the Championship, despite weak bowling. Yorkshire (Headingley, Leeds) Enjoying a revival after many lean years, and should have done better than 6th in 1997. Arouses the most passionate opinions of any county (and not just about cricket!) The club nearly tore itself apart in the 1980s in a dispute about the future of Geoff Boycott, and may yet do so again over the decision to move to a new site at Wakefield.

County committee -- See County club.

County cricket -- English domestic cricket played by county clubs.

County match -- Usually used to mean a match between first-class counties in England.

Cover -- Run-saving fielding position, in front of the wicket on the off side. Hence extra cover (straighter), cover point (squarer).

Covers -- (1) Area of field guarded by cover fieldsman, hence 'through the covers'. (2) Combination of wheeled canopies and tarpaulins used to protect the pitch and infield from rain.

Cow corner -- the leg side boundary, in front of square, to or over which a cow shot is directed.

Cow shot -- An inelegant leg side slog, usually played with the eyes closed and the head high in the air.

Crease -- A line. See Bowling crease, Popping crease and Return crease. Also please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the placement of the various creases on the pitch.

Cric-Code -- An attempt, apparently to bring cricket fans into the computer age. A series of mystical letters and symbols designed to inform other cricket fans of one's particular cricket parameters. Rather like a secret lodge handshake. We provide a copy of the Cric-Code for your perusal. We propose one small addition: "C" for "How do you feel about the Cric-Code?"

Cross (of batsmen) -- To pass in mid-pitch while taking a run. Significant in two situations - (1) where the striker is out caught when the batsmen have crossed, the non-striker remains at the end he has run to, although no run is scored; (2) if the ball reaches the boundary when the batsmen have crossed for an overthrow, the run in progress is allowed to count, as well as those already completed and the four for the boundary.

Cross bat -- Bat parallel to the ground.

Cut -- A cross-batted, usually back-foot batting shot square of (square cut) or behind (late cut) the wicket on the off side.


Daisy-cutter -- See Shooter.

Dead ball -- When the ball is not in play, it is said to be 'dead'. The ball comes into play when the bowler starts his run-up, and becomes automatically dead when the umpire considers it to have 'finally settled' in the hands of the wicket-keeper or bowler, when a wicket falls, or when the ball reaches the boundary or when the umpire calls 'over' or 'time'. The umpire may call the ball dead at other times - for example, when the ball lodges in the batsman's clothing, or when a serious injury occurs to a player.

Declaration -- The decision of the batting captain to close his innings. Usually made in order to give his bowlers time to bowl the other side out to win the match, or delayed by twenty crucial minutes while the side's senior player struggles from 96 to 100.

Declaration bowler -- Inept bowler employed to allow the batting side to score quickly, usually in the hope of contriving a result in a rain-affected match.

Deep -- Fielding position prefix also indicating 'on the boundary' (See Long), but used in conjunction with the name of an infield position - e.g. deep square leg, deep extra cover.

Devil's number -- An Australian superstition concerning the number 87 and, by extension, 187, 287 etc. Something to do with things being upside-down in Australia, perhaps, but the theory is that being 13 short of 100 gives it terrible powers. It is, of course, purely coincidental that 1987 was when Australia last lost a Test series to England.

Dibbly-dobbly -- Derogatory term applied to slow-medium paced bowling even less threatening than that of a trundler.

Did not bat -- Entry in the scorebook against a batsman who, erm, did not bat.

Dismiss -- To get a batsman out.

DNB -- See, erm, Did not bat.

Dolly catch -- A gentle, easy catch.

Don, the -- See Bradman, D.G.

Dot ball -- (1) A ball from which no run is scored and no wicket falls. So called because of the scorebook notation for such a ball. (2) No doubt the URL address extension that will be proposed by misguided techno-centric cricketing fans when they feel that cricket warrants it own domain. See also Cric-Code.

Donkey-drop -- Style of slow bowling less threatening still than dibbly-dobbly.

Down wicket -- See Broken wicket.

Draw -- A match that is not played under limited-overs rules, ends in a draw if both sides have not completed the agreed number of innings when the allotted time expires. Strange as it may seem, this can and does happen even after five rainless days of a Test match. A drawn match is not necessarily a boring one, as many who should know better believe. A batting side stubbornly holding on to avoid defeat can be one of the most exciting spectacles in the game.

Drive -- A straight-batted, front-foot batting shot, in front of the wicket.

Duck -- When a batsman is out without scoring any runs. See also Golden Duck.


Earache -- The commonest cause of incapacity among club cricketers, as in "Reg can't play on Sunday, he's getting earache." As with so many debilitating afflictions, the actual causative agent is very small - usually some minor household task that the player's spouse insists must be performed between three and four that afternoon. Earache takes two forms: chronic earache tends to persist at a low level, sometimes for a whole season, with brief periods of respite. Acute earache is, thankfully, rarer, but its effects can be devastating. In its worst form, the player may be dragged from the pavilion - or even from the field of play - by a vituperative spouse, leaving the team a man short. (The "a href="#laws">law on Substitutes makes no special provision for this.) Such an attack can end a player's career, leaving him unable ever again to face his teammates. (See also Women's cricket)

ECB -- Strictly speaking, the England and Wales Cricket Board but, as in so many other cases, Wales is quietly forgotten when it comes to the short version and the design of the snazzy three-lions-and-a-coronet emblem that appears on the shirts of the England team. The ECB came into being in 1997, to replace the former Test and County Cricket Board, but with a broader remit to administer the game at all levels, not just professional cricket. See also Governing bodies.

Economy -- A bowler's ability to prevent the batsmen from scoring. Of course, the best way to do this is to put them back in the hutch, but economy is usually measured in runs per over. In most forms of cricket, a bowler is happy with a rate of less than three runs an over.

Edge -- Batting shot, usually unintentional contact between ball and edge of the bat. May result in a catch to wicket-keeper or slips.

Eleven -- See XI. Also, the most random number in the universe. Ask people for a random number and 11 will be the number chosen more than any other.

Extra -- Colloquial term for extra cover.

Extras -- Runs not scored off the bat - no-balls, wides, byes and leg-byes. Extras count to the team's total, but not to the batsman.


Fanny -- See Bush, Frances Jemima.

Farm the strike -- Where a good batsman is batting with a tail-ender, he will often want to face as much of the bowling as possible, since he ought to be at less risk than his less proficient partner. To this end, he will aim to take a single from the fifth or sixth ball of an over, in order to put himself at the receiving end for the next. An astute captain will be aware of this tactic and may set his field to frustrate it, or to encourage the good batsman to take a single early in the over. Sometimes, however, a captain becomes so focused on getting at the tail-ender that he appears to forget about getting the batsman out. A valuable late-order partnership can develop this way, when a more aggressive approach from the fielding side might have stopped it before it began.

Faxes -- Preferred prank of BBC Radio cricket correspondent, TMS commentator and former England fast bowler Jonathan Agnew, as in the following example from the opening day of the first Test of the 1997 Ashes series, lifted from the Telegraph.

"Shortly after lunch Agnew, in a state of some excitement, showed me a fax he was about to send upstairs to Sybil Ruscoe, who was reporting on the Test for Radio Five Live. It was a letter complimenting her on her programme and asking her if she would mind explaining the term 'googly'. The signature at the bottom was 'Hugh Jarce'."

Featherbed -- A pitch of gentle pace and predictable bounce on which batting is easy.

Fence -- (1) criminal slang for a receiver of stolen goods. (2) means by which the boundary is marked on some grounds. Curiously, a fielder may touch a boundary fence when stopping or catching a ball, but if he touches a boundary line or rope, the ball is deemed to have crossed the boundary. Quite how thick a rope can be before it becomes a fence is one to ponder in the bar while the rain pours down outside.

Ferret -- Not-very-competent-at-all batsman, so called because he goes in after the rabbits.

Fielding positions -- Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the Cricket field and various fielding positions. See Backward, Bat-pad, Cover, Deep, Extra, Fine, Gully, Long, Mid, Point, Short, Silly, Slip, Square, Third man.

Fifty -- Fifty runs scored by a single batsman in a single innings. See also Century, Hundred.

Film and TV -- Not a definition this, merely a rant. Free expression is a fine ideal but there are limits and the way cricket is portrayed on film and television is beyond them. It should be prohibited by Act of Parliament at least until they learn to do it properly. As it is, the grass on the pitch is usually over the players' boots, bowlers skip and hop to the wicket and deliver the ball from somewhere behind their heads, and when a staged dolly catch lands in extra-cover's hands, or a close-up shot shows the ball flopping into the stumps, the players all cry "Howsat" (see Appeal) and the umpire raises his finger. Other sports - notably baseball - have been depicted reasonably convincingly on film, so there can be no excuse. (See also Village cricket.)

Fine -- Fielding position behind the wicket and close to the longitudinal axis of the pitch.

Finger -- The umpire's index finger, raised in response to an appeal to indicate that the batsman is out. This is necessary only in cases of doubt - where the batsman has lobbed a gentle catch or the wicketkeeper is trotting towards the boundary to retrieve the middle stump, there is no need for the umpire to give him out. (See Walk, Film and TV)

Finger spinner -- Bowler who uses his fingers to spin the ball. For a right-arm bowler, this term is synonymous with off spinner.

Finger-wagging -- See Shakoor Rana.

First baller -- More usual term for Golden Duck (which is rather schoolboyish.) Incidentally, there is not, but ought to be, the Platinum Duck, which is the special feat of being out, usually run out, without facing a ball.

First class -- Cricket played between recognized first class teams over three, four or five days, with two innings per team. What makes a first class team is not always clear - the game's governing bodies occasionally have to rule on whether a particular match should count as first class. In England, first class matches are played between the 18 first class counties, in addition to Test matches and county games against touring teams. Other countries have comparable domestic first class structures.

Fishing -- Playing with the bat away from the body at a ball outside the off stump. Such a shot is likely to yield nothing more than an edged catch to the wicketkeeper or slips.

Five for -- Colloquial term for a bowler's return of five wickets in an innings. (See Bowling analysis.)

Flash -- Batting shot, a cousin of the Harrow drive. The flash is an ambitious drive aimed at a ball too wide to reach easily. Safer than it looks, since any contact with the ball is likely to send it high over the slips' heads and first bounce into the third-man fence.

Flight -- Arguably a more important weapon even than spin in a slow bowler's armoury, flight is the art of varying the ball's arc and speed through the air in order to deceive the batsman. An aerodynamicist will tell you that flight depends heavily on the non-linear relationship between velocity and drag, and the existence of a 'critical velocity', below which the drag on an object can actually increase. To a spin bowler, this means that he can make the ball dip suddenly in mid-flight, leaving a batsman who thought he had it covered a yard short of the pitch and unable to keep the ball down. Flighted bowling takes nerve and the confidence not to give in when the occasional ball's whistles over mid-on for six. By presenting the batsman with temptingly hittable balls, it encourages him to take risks.

Flipper -- A wrist-spinner's 'trick' ball, deceptively fast and low-bouncing. Difficult to bowl, but deadly when straight.

Follow-on -- If, in a two-innings match, the side batting second falls short of the other side's first-innings score by 150 runs in a three or four-day match, or 200 runs in a five-day match, the captain of the leading team may ask them to bat again immediately. By exercising this option, he gives his bowlers the chance to bowl the other side out again and win by an innings. (See Winning margin)

Footwork -- The stance is only a starting point - it allows the batsman to move his feet easily into position to play balls of any length and direction. A short-pitched ball can be played most easily off the back foot ('playing back'). The batsman moves his back foot back towards the wicket and across into the line of the ball, giving him the maximum time to judge the speed and bounce of the ball. An overpitched ball is best played off the front foot ('playing forward'). The batsman moves his front foot forward and across, ideally alongside the point where the ball pitches. This allows him to hit it close to the ground, before it has bounced very high or deviated off the pitch. A good-length ball (pitching maybe 6-8 feet from the batsman from a slow bowler, slightly more from a fast bowler) makes neither of these methods easy, but a good batsman will usually play forward to a good-length ball. Against slow bowling, a batsman may 'use his feet' - i.e. leave his crease to bring himself closer to the pitch of the ball, or even to turn a good-length ball into a full toss. In doing this, he risks being stumped if he misses the ball, but it is a tactic that can upset a bowler's rhythm and accuracy.

Four -- A ball which crosses the boundary after having first touched the ground, and which scores four runs.

Four ball -- Bad ball, likely to be hit for four.

Fraser, A.R.C. -- The finest bowler in England, 'Gus' Fraser (b. 1965) has been instrumental in such recent success as England has had against major Test opposition, notably the West Indies at Bridgetown, 1994, and Australia at Sydney, 1995. He was unjustly made a scapegoat for the failings of others following England's defeat at Cape Town in 1996, and has been cruelly overlooked by the selectors since. Only 31, he would have restored some much-needed discipline to England's wayward bowling in the 1997 Ashes series. And truly, as all good things come to those who wait, Mrs. Fraser's boy has been selected to venture to the West Indies and defend the honor of the Empire! See also Six foot five.

French cut -- An attempted attacking batting shot in front of the wicket resulting in four fortunate runs behind the wicket off the inside or bottom edge of the bat. Usually millimetres away from a 'Bad luck, mate'.

Front foot, But he was on the -- expression of the bizarre but abundant supposition that a batsman cannot be out lbw when playing forward.

Front foot no ball -- The original no-ball law required the bowler to have some part of his back foot behind the bowling crease at the instant of release. However, many bowlers 'drag' the back foot a considerable distance after landing it, and umpires complained that it was impossible to judge where the bowler's foot was when he actually released the ball. So in 1967, the MCC introduced the present law requiring some part of the front foot to be behind the popping crease when the ball is released. Since the bowler's front foot does not move after landing (if it did, he would do the splits!) it is much easier for the umpire to judge the fairness of the delivery.

Full, on the -- Without touching the ground. According to context, this may be between bowler and batsman, bat and fielder or bat and boundary. (In some cases, even between bowler and boundary, although this scores only four byes or wides, not six.)

Full toss -- A ball that reaches the batsman without pitching.


Gardening -- The laws allow a batsman to make minor repairs with his bat to the surface of the pitch, for example to pitch-marks made by the ball or scratches from fielders' studs. There's an element of psychology at work here too: a batsman beaten by a ball that whistled past his chin might prod the spot where it pitched to spare the bowler from giving himself too much credit for the delivery.

Gate -- The gap between bat and pad, that a good batsman should keep closed. Hence 'Gated' or bowled through the gate.

Get one's eye in -- (of batsman) get accustomed to the batting conditions.

Gillette Cup -- See Competitions, domestic.

Given out -- Declared out by the umpire.

Glance -- Batting shot, a faint touch applied to ball outside leg stump, to deflect it beyond the wicket-keeper's reach. Elegant and extremely difficult to play.

Glove -- Gloves are worn by the batsmen to protect their hands from the ball as well as to give the batsmen a firm grip on the handles of their bats. See also protective equipment.

Golden Duck -- A quite excellent Chinese restaurant in Maidstone. Also a special case of a duck in which the batsman is out on his first delivery of an innings.

Good Length -- A ball which is neither shortpitched nor overpitched, thus making an attacking shot more difficult and risky. Against a slow bowler, a good length ball might pitch 6-8 feet in front of the batsman. A good length ball from a fast bowler might pitch slightly further in front of the batsman.

Gooch, G.A. -- Graham Gooch (b.1953) played 118 Tests for England between 1975 and 1995, starting with a pair but amassing a record aggregate of 8900 runs. He was captain for 34 of those matches from 1989 to 1993, during which time he reached the peak of his powers as an opening batsman. Against India at Lord's in 1990, he set a record for the highest aggregate of runs in any Test match, scoring 333 in the first innings and 121 in the second, and his 151 not out against West Indies at Leeds in 1991 is rated by Coopers and Lybrand as the second most valuable Test innings ever played. Gooch's captaincy was distinguished more by an unrelenting work ethic than by any great flair on the field. The resulting personal fitness sustained him in Test cricket to the age of 41, but his insistence that others share his approach brought a premature and controversial end to the career of David Gower, and his over-use of Angus Fraser in 1990-1 contributed to the hip injury that cost Fraser two years of cricket. Gooch retired from Essex in 1997 and is now an England Test selector, in-between advertising commitments for the company that re-thatched his once-prominent scalp. His droopy moustache has gone too - coincidence? (See also Water cooler.)

Goochie -- See Gooch, Graham.

Googly -- A wrist-spinner's off-break, bowled with an action similar to that for the leg-break.

Governing bodies -- Each cricketing country has its own governing body (e.g. the Australian Cricket Board, the England and Wales Cricket Board), responsible for running the domestic game in that country, especially the first-class game. Each country's board is answerable to the International Cricket Council, which fixes the schedules and conditions for all international cricket, and co-operates with the MCC in updating the laws of the game.

Gower, D.I. -- David Gower (b.1957) made his Test debut in 1978 and hit his first ball nonchalantly for four. This elegant, seemingly carefree approach characterized most of his 117-match career, although he would privately insist that he worked much harder at his game than he was given credit for, and his 8231 Test runs suggest he probably did make some effort somewhere. His relaxed demeanour continued off the field; as captain in 1989, he left an end-of-day press conference early, announcing that he was off to the theatre; early one April, he persuaded a national newspaper to publish a story that batting left-handed had been a mistake, and he'd be a right-hander from then on; and on the 1990-1 tour of Australia, during a practice match against a country XI, he outraged Graham Gooch by buzzing the ground in a Tiger Moth biplane. Gooch's eventual revenge was to omit Gower from the 1992-3 tour of India, telling him he was, at 35, too old to be part of England's future. (Gooch was 39.) The decision provoked an outcry among the members of the MCC, leading to the calling of an Extraordinary General Meeting and the tabling of a motion of no confidence in the committee. Gower retired to become a TV commentator, causing his colleague and former Australian captain Ian Chappell to tell him, on air, during the 1993 Ashes series, "You shouldn't be up here talking about the game, mate, you should be out there playing it."

Grace, W.G. -- With the modern game's emphasis on fitness and athleticism, the sight of a portly, bearded figure waddling out to bat at Lord's has not been seen since, erm, Mike Gatting's last appearance of 1997. By leaving the first-class game at the tender age of 41, however, Gatting will fall far short in endurance, as well as hirsuteness, if not girth, of the game's greatest legend, William Gilbert Grace (1848-1915). Grace played first-class cricket for Gloucestershire for 43 years, amassing nearly 55,000 runs. He played 22 Tests - although Test cricket did not begin until 1877 and there were far fewer matches than today - the last of them at the age of 51. Oh, and through all this he maintained his practice as a country doctor in Gloucestershire. He is commemorated at the game's headquarters by the Grace Gates, through which the players and officials enter the ground.

Grace Gates - See Grace, W.G..

Gray Nicolls -- English manufacturer of good-quality cricket equipment, spoiled only by some gimmicky designs and even sillier names. Their Ultimate bat is Great Aunt Fanny's favourite - as this picture may explain. She even bought one for me.

Greentop -- Grassy, often damp pitch that gives assistance to seam bowlers.

Great Aunt Fanny -- See Bush, Frances Jemima.

Ground, Grounded -- To touch either bat or body on the ground behind the popping crease.

Ground, out of his -- Either batsman is said to be 'out of his ground' when he has neither his bat nor his body grounded behind the popping crease, and is therefore at risk of being run out or, in the case of the striker, stumped.

Grubber -- see Shooter

Guard (position) -- In waiting for the ball, a batsman will usually stand astride the popping crease, feet slightly apart, looking at the bowler along his left (if he is right-handed) shoulder, with the toe of his bat resting on the ground by his right foot.

Gully -- Fielder in catching position, slightly behind square on the off side. See also Fielding Position.

Gunn and Moore -- Proper cricket bats are made by Messrs Gunn and Moore of Nottingham, whose classic Autograph or meatier Cannon ought to be all a batsman needs. Passable imitations are made elsewhere in England by Slazenger (once the choice of Geoff Boycott) and Gray Nicolls, and in Australia by Kookaburra.


Half-volley -- An overpitched ball, whose pitch the batsman can reach easily, and so hit off the front foot.

Hand action -- Not what batsmen do in their spare time, but what a fast bowler does with his wrist and fingers as he releases the ball. His aim is to keep the seam upright, so it can act as a rudder to guide the ball's swing and land on the pitch to produce movement. He will usually drag his fingers down the rear part of the seam, imparting backspin that will stabilize the flight of the ball.

Handled the ball -- The batsman's hands, when holding the bat, count as part of the bat, and so may legally touch the ball. Any other use of the hand by either batsman is illegal, and a batsman who handles the ball in an attempt to gain an advantage will be given out by the umpire. The bowler gets no credit for the wicket. G.A.Gooch (Essex and England) ended what might have been a match-saving innings against Australia in 1993 by being out handled the ball, the only time I've seen it happen. See also Out.

[Editors note:Regarding the curious handling of the ball by Mr. Gooch, we are told that the unfortunate Mr. Gooch was not so much unfortunate as silly. In the second innings of the first Test at Manchester in 1993, Australia set England a huge target of 512 to win. At 223-3 (See Score), with Gooch on 133, England were still in with a chance of salvaging a draw when Gooch failed to keep down a ball from Merv Hughes that bounced higher than he'd expected, thought it was about to fall on his wicket and knocked it away with the back of his glove. Had the glove still been on the bat, or had he used any other part of his person or equipment, all would have been well. As it was, he was out Handled the Ball and England folded to 332 all out, to lose by 179 runs. (See Winning Margin.]

Hanging bat out to dry -- See Fishing

Harrow drive -- See French cut.

Hat trick -- Three wickets taken in successive balls. It may be a debasement of the coinage, but these days a bowler may be credited with a hat-trick even if an over from another bowler - or even his own side's innings - comes between two of his three wickets. A bowler who has taken two successive wickets is said to be 'on a hat-trick', and the third ball is the 'hat-trick ball'. In club cricket, the hat-trick ball is all too often a wide. Here is a thrilling recording of Dominic Cork's remarkable hat-trick in the first over of the day against the West Indies in 1995 that will send chills down your spine:

Listen to a RealAudio clip of Dominic Cork's Hat Trick"
Download a free copy of the RealAudio Player

Have a blow -- (1) Captain's call to bowler, after his heroic opening spell, in scorching July heat, has reduced the opposition to 27-4 (See Score), because his joke-bowler mate wants a bowl. (2) Captain's call to his joke-bowler mate, once his four overs have allowed the opposition's middle order to recover to 85-4 (See Score). (3) Great Aunt Fanny's call to...well, never mind.

Heavy ball -- A ball with an extra neutron in its nucleus, developed in 1979 for use at the Three Mile Island Cricket Club. Erm, sorry. It's a fashionable term among cricketing journalists for a ball that bounces higher than expected, hitting the splice of the bat instead of its more compliant middle.

Helmet -- Helmets are worn by the batsmen to protect their heads from the ball. The particular helmet pictured at right, rests upon the head of Australian batsmen Mark Waugh. See also protective equipment.

Hit the ball twice -- The striker is allowed to use his bat to defend his wicket from a ball he has already hit. If he hits the ball a second time for any other reason, he may be given out. Another occurrence I've never seen. See also Out.

Hit wicket -- The striker is out hit wicket if, in playing the ball or setting off for his first run, he breaks the wicket with his bat, person or clothing. G.Boycott (Yorkshire and England) was once out hit wicket in a Test match when his cap fell onto his wicket. The bowler is credited for a hit-wicket dismissal, so a batsman cannot be out in this way from a no-ball. See also Out.

Hoick -- See Cow shot

Hook -- A small but charming village in Hampshire, England where, in the opinion of CricketUSA®, the finest English women are to be found. Also, a batting shot similar to the pull, but played to a ball at chest height or above. Spectacular but risky, due to the difficulty in keeping the ball down.

How? -- See How's that?

How's that? -- The Marylebone Cricket Club law book's prescribed form of words for an appeal to the umpire to give a batsman out. Common alternative renderings are "How?" "'owizzeee?" and "Waaaaaaaaaaaah?". The popular lay version, "Howzat?" was last heard at about the same time as "It's a fair cop."

Howzat? -- See How's that?

Hugh Jarce -- See Faxes. If that doesn't help, just try saying it over and over with increasing speed until you figure it out. As a last resort, consume a few pints of beer and again begin saying over and over until you finally get it.

Hundred -- One hundred runs scored by a single batsman in a single innings. See also Century, Fifty.

Hutch -- See pavilion. See also Rabbit.


ICC -- International Cricketing Council. See Governing bodies.

In-ducker -- Opposing batsman's term for the stock delivery of a trundler. Although it sounds like a variation on the inswinger, the in-ducker is merely a straight ball that the batsman has contrived to miss, so he has to give it a semi-mystical name to explain his downfall.

Infield -- Those fielders either close to the bat in search of a catch, or within about 30 yards of it, saving the single.

Injuries -- If a batsman or bowler gets injured before he is needed, hard luck. Other players in the team can fill in for an injured bowler, but no allowance is made for an unfit batsman - he can struggle through as best he can, or the team can make do without him. Real man's game, cricket!

Innings -- (1) The time spent at the wicket by one batsman, until he is out; (2) The combined innings (1) of the entire batting team, ending when ten batsmen are out, or the batting captain declares the innings closed. (Note: In cricket, the word "innings" is used for both the plural and the singular. "Inning" is a term used only in baseball, which is as it should be.)

Inswinger -- Swing delivery that moves in the air towards a righthanded batsman. The bowler's aim is to pass the inside edge of the bat and hit the batsman's leg for an lbw, or the wicket itself.


Jaffa -- Good or unplayable ball, typically one that bounces and leaves the bat late in its trajectory.

Jag -- (1) Motor car made in Coventry, England, that consumes an obscene amount of fuel and roadspace, while still forcing occupants to sit with their chins on their knees. (2) Rather unattractive verb for the behaviour of a ball that cuts in off the seam from outside a batsman's off stump.

John Player League -- See Competitions, domestic.

Johnners -- Brian Johnston (1910-1994), TMS commentator (and many other things besides. Best remembered for the things that went wrong during his commentaries, most memorably in the Legover incident of 1991, and an occasion during the West Indies 1980 tour when Michael Holding, West Indies' most feared fast bowler, was bowling to Peter Willey, England's most stubborn batsman; or, as Johnners said, "The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey."

Johnston, Brian -- See Johnners.

Joke bowler -- Inept bowler employed because he has turned out as a favour to the captain, who had only nine men an hour before the start, who said as he arrived "I fancy a bowl today." The target of muttered oaths and murderous scowls from the real bowlers, whose hard work he undoes in the course of three overs for 40.


Knee roll -- Not the peculiar chicken-effect product containing more gristle than meat, whose appearance at tea-time can be grounds for a club's removal from its visitors' fixture list, but the thickened part of the pad that protects the batsman's knee. Most usually spoken of when commentators use it as a crude guide for judging the height of a possible lbw: a ball that hits the batsman above the knee is likely to pass over the wicket.

Knights -- I don't refer here to the 2nd XI ferrets who come to the crease in full body armour, nor to N.V.Knight (b.1969), left-handed opener for Warwickshire and England, but to the elite band of cricketers who have been honoured by the British Crown for their services to the game. India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, although all former parts of the former British Empire, no longer recognize the Queen as head of state, so this list, which is not exhaustive, contains only players from Australia, England, New Zealand and West Indies.

Sir George Allen 1902-89, England 1930-48, Knighted 1986
Sir Alec Bedser b.1918, England 1946-55, Knighted 1997
Sir Donald Bradman b.1908, Australia 1928-48, Knighted 1949
Sir Colin Cowdrey b.1932, England 1954-75
Sir Richard Hadlee b.1951, New Zealand 1973-90, Knighted 1990 -the only one knighted while still playing Test cricket
Sir Leonard Hutton 1916-90, England 1937-55, Knighted 1956
Sir Garfield Sobers b.1936, West Indies 1954-74, Knighted 1975
Sir Clyde Walcott b.1926, West Indies 1948-60
Sir Pelham Warner 1873-1963, England 1898-1912, Knighted 1937
Sir Everton Weekes b.1925, West Indies 1948-58
Sir Frank Worrell 1924-67, West Indies 1948-63, Knighted 1964

Knocking in -- Conditioning the surface of a new bat by repeatedly hitting it with an old ball or a wooden mallet. A bat that hasn't been adequately knocked in will splinter under the impact of a new ball.


Late cut -- See Cut.

Law -- Cricket is governed by laws, not rules. The MCC's code of laws consists of 42 laws that govern the conduct of the game and the responsibilities of players and umpires. Special rules or playing conditions may apply to individual matches or competitions. The complete text of the laws can be found at the CricInfo website. Here are the 42 laws:

Law 1 : The Players
Law 2 : Substitutes & Runners,
Batsman or Fieldsman Leaving
the Field, Batsman Retiring,
Batsman Commmencing Innings
Law 3 : The Umpires
Law 4 : The Scorers
Law 5 : The Ball
Law 6 : The Bat
Law 7 : The Pitch
Law 8 : The Wickets
Law 9 : The Bowling,
Popping and Return Creases
Law 10: Rolling, Sweeping,
Mowing, Watering the
Pitch & Remarking of

Law 11: Covering The Pitch
Law 12: Innings
Law 13: The Follow-On
Law 14: Declarations
Law 15: Start Of Play
Law 16: Intervals
Law 17: Cessation Of Play
Law 18: Scoring
Law 19: Boundaries
Law 20: Lost Ball
Law 21: The Result
Law 22: The Over
Law 23: Dead Ball
Law 24: No Ball
Law 25: Wide Ball
Law 26: Bye and Leg Bye
Law 27: Appeals

Law 28: The Wicket Is Down
Law 29: Batsman Out Of
His Ground
Law 30: Bowled
Law 31: Timed Out
Law 32: Caught
Law 33: Handled The Ball
Law 34: Hit The Ball Twice
Law 35: Hit Wicket
Law 36: Leg Before Wicket
Law 37: Obstructing The Field
Law 38: Run Out
Law 39: Stumped
Law 40: The Wicket-Keeper
Law 41: The Fieldsman
Law 42: Unfair Play

However, if all those laws are a bit too much for you and you would just like a simple explanation of the game, there is always this explanation which seems to appear most often on tea towels to be hung in people's offices:

"You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out, he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When both sides have been in and out including the not-outs, that's the end of the game. Howzat?"

LBW -- See Leg Before Wicket.

LBW, not playing a shot -- Part of the lbw law since the Sixties, this reduces the criteria a ball must satisfy for a batsman not attempting to hit it to be out lbw.

Leg Before Wicket -- When a batsman prevents a bowled ball from striking the wicket by blocking the ball with his leg, he is said to be out 'leg before wicket', or more simply "lbw". See also Out.

Leg-break -- A ball spun by the bowler so as to turn from leg to off for a righthanded batsman.

Leg-bye -- Run scored from a ball that hit the batsman's body rather this his bat.

Leg cutter -- Fast bowler's delivery that leaves the righthanded batsman sharply after pitching.

Leg glance -- A batting shot. However, there really is only one sort of glance! See Glance.

Legover incident -- During a Test match between England and West Indies in 1991, England's Ian Botham lost his balance in avoiding a bouncer from Curtly Ambrose. Realizing he was dangerously close to his stumps, Botham tried to step over the wicket but dislodged a bail with his thigh. In discussing Botham's dismissal at the end of the day's play, TMS's Jonathan Agnew muttered to his colleague Brian Johnston that Botham "couldn't quite get his leg over." What followed was some 90 seconds of unforgettable radio, with Johnston gigglingly helplessly and spluttering "Aggers, for goodness' sake, stop it." Here is a RealAudio clip of this infamous incident:

Listen to a RealAudio clip of "The Legover Incident"
Download a free copy of the RealAudio Player
[Editors note: We feel we should educate our US readers as to what it means to "get a leg over". Ahem. Without getting ourselves kicked off our ISP, let it suffice to say it indicates that one has engaged in the most intimate of relations with a member of the opposite sex.]

Leg side -- The side of the pitch nearer the batsman's legs as he faces the bowler, i.e. to the bowler's right for a right-handed batsman. See also On side.

Leg spinner -- Bowler whose primary delivery is the leg-break.

Leg stump -- Of the three stumps which comprise a wicket, the one to the leg side. See also Off stump and Middle stump.

Length -- The distance from the bowler to the point where the ball pitches. This affects the time the batsman has to see the ball's behaviour off the pitch, and so influences his choice of stroke. See shortpitched, good length and overpitched.

Limited bouncers -- Not a law but a playing condition for first-class matches, restricting a bowler to one (county matches) or two (Test matches) bouncers per batsman per over. Bouncers above this limit are called no-balls. Many observers, CricketUSA® included, regard this as unnecessary. The umpires already have the power under law 42 to remove a bowler for intimidatory bowling (see Beamer, Bouncer), and indeed this recently happened in a first class match to M.J.McCague of Kent. This condition is a belated and inappropriate response to the blatantly intimidatory tactics employed, most notably by the West Indies, in the 1970s and 1980s, when all that was needed was for the umpires to enforce the existing law.

Limited overs cricket -- Alternative term for one-day cricket.

Line and length -- Another schoolmaster's favourite, ostensibly in praise of the undoubted virtue of accuracy in bowling. Too often, however, it has the effect of deterring young bowlers from practising the aggressive arts of pace, swing and spin, and could be the reason that English cricket is full of journeyman medium-pacers. Coaches are at last beginning to realize that while a fast bowler or a big spinner can become accurate with practice, no donkey, however good his sense of direction, has yet won the Derby.

Linseed oil -- What glaziers use to keep their putty malleable. When they're not doing that, they rub it into their cricket bats. The oil maintains the resilience of the wood, and keeps it from drying out and becoming brittle, or from absorbing moisture and swelling up. Some modern bats are impregnated with polyurethane or other waterproofing substances, but such bats tend to perform less well than natural, oiled willow. As owners of CD mini-systems, electric coffee makers and home hairdressing kits already know, convenience and performance seldom come along together.

Lofted drive -- A batting shot played intentionally in the air, over the heads of the close fielders.

Long -- Fielding position prefix indicating 'on the boundary'. Confusingly, long-leg is behind the wicket, while the apparently synonymous long-on is in front of it, barely within shouting distance of long-leg. See also Deep.

Long hop -- A shortpitched ball, not fast or high enough to be a bouncer, which presents the batsman with an easy hit off the back foot.

Long Room -- A long room (!) in the pavilion at Lord's, looking out onto the playing area and lined with portraits of distinguished cricketers and cricketing memorabilia. Players walk through it on their way to the middle.

Loop -- The high trajectory of a flighted delivery from a slow bowler. By tossing the ball up, the bowler gives it the greatest chance of deviating off the pitch, and also encourages the batsman to take the risk of using his feet.

Lord MacLaurin -- chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and author of a 32-page document known entitled "Raising The Standard", also known as The MacLaurin Plan, The MacLaurin-Lamb Proposals, rubbish, a load of cobblers, barmy, idiotic, fatuous, attrocious, a bum note, etc. This plan also earned Lord MacLaurin the sobriquet, "Lord Macchiavelli" in some circles. See Raising The Standard for more information on the proposal itself.

Lord's -- A cricket ground in St John's Wood, north London, generally considered the 'home' of cricket. It belongs to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and was founded by Thomas Lord some 200 years ago. Lord's plays host to a Test match against each touring country each year, as well as the finals of the major domestic competitions. Middlesex County Cricket Club also plays its home games at Lord's.


Maiden -- An over in which no run is scored off the bat, nor from a wide or no-ball. The traditional best man's joke about bowling a maiden over ceased to be funny before the First World War and was eventually outlawed by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1927.

Maker's name -- Sound defensive batting technique involves meeting the ball with the full face of the bat - 'showing the bowler the maker's name'. These days, most bats are so garishly decorated that the bowler could probably see the maker's name from the end of his run.

Marigolds -- Fashionable, often brightly decorated batting gloves (See Protective equipment) with oh-so-comfortable lightweight foam padding. Blissfully comfortable to wear - until you get hit. Then, once the swelling has subsided enough to get them off, they join the slippers in the bin and their former owner goes back to the shop for some proper gloves.

Marylebone Cricket Club -- Should you find it necessary to contact the Marylebone Cricket Club, you may do so at the following address: Marylebone Cricket Club, Lord's Cricket Ground, London NW8 8QN, England, (44) 171-289 5686

Match referee -- An off-field official at Test matches and other major events, whose responsibility is to oversee the broader conduct of the game and to take any disciplinary action that may be required against the players.

MCC -- See Marylebone Cricket Club.

Mid -- Prefix of three infield fielding positions: mid-off between bowler and covers; mid-on in equivalent position on on-side; mid-wicket between mid-on and square leg.

Mid-wicket -- A leg-side infield fielding position. As far as I can guess, the name derives from sense (3) of 'wicket', since the fielder is roughly level with the halfway point of the pitch.

Middle -- (1) See In the middle. (2) The middle of the bat. (3) To hit the ball with the middle of the bat. Bat makers go to great lengths to persuade players that the new Ergomax Arsekicker has a larger, sweeter middle than any bat ever made. The truth is, however, that as long as the bat has a middle somewhere, a good player will have the timing to find it.

Middle, In the -- Involved in the game. A batsman returning from injury or in a run of bad form may be said to be 'short of time in the middle', meaning short of match practice.

Middle stump -- Of the three stumps which comprise a wicket, the one in the middle. See also Off stump and Leg stump.

Minefield -- See Cabbage patch.


NatWest Trophy -- See Competitions, domestic.

Nelson -- The number 111. The connection to Admiral Lord Nelson is tenuous and mostly unexplained, but the number that bears his name, and multiples of that number, are held to have mystical properties in English cricket. There are those - Test umpire David Shepherd prominent among them - who will not keep both feet on the ground while 111 is on the scoreboard, although quite what they are trying to prevent is not clear either.

Nets -- A pitch enclosed at the sides, back and top with netting is called a net and used for practice. Trouble is, turf net pitches take as much maintenance as those on the square, so most clubs don't bother. Instead, they use a concrete base covered with synthetic 'all weather' matting, which takes on the character of a police skid-pan after the slightest sprinkling of rain. Worse, it doesn't tolerate spikes, so bowlers are expected to practise in rubber-soled shoes, in which no bowler in his right mind (so we can exclude left-armers) would risk bowling at full speed.

New ball -- In most levels of cricket, each innings begins with a new ball. In the first class game, once the fielding side has bowled 80 overs with one ball, the captain may call for a new one, so that his pace bowlers have the advantage of a sharp seam and a shiny cover. The tactic can backfire, however, especially if the batsmen are well set, since the harder ball comes faster off the bat.

Nightwatchman -- In a first-class match, a tail-ender sent in when a wicket falls near the end of a day's play. The theory is that a batsman is most vulnerable at the start of his innings and early in the day, so this tactic is intended to protect a specialist batsman from one of these dangerous times.

Nipbacker -- Colloquially, a fast ball that 'nips back' off the pitch towards the batsman, like an off-cutter.

No! -- The call from one batsman to the other indicating that he should not run. See Calling.

No-ball -- A delivery ruled unfair by the umpire for one of several reasons, usually to do with the position of the bowler's feet. (See Popping crease, Return crease) The bowler cannot take a batsman's wicket with a no-ball, although the batsman may be out in ways not credited to the bowler, e.g. run out. A no-ball counts one run to the batting side's score. If the batsmen run, or the ball goes to the boundary without hitting the bat, that number of no-balls is scored instead. If runs are scored off the bat, the one-run penalty does not apply.

Non-striker -- The batsman at the bowler's end, not facing the bowling. See also Striker.

Not out -- (1) Umpire's call in denying an appeal. (2) Entry in the scorebook against a batsman not dismissed at the end of his team's innings, either because of a declaration, or because all ten of his teammates are out.


Obstructing the field -- Another rare means of dismissal. A batsman who causes an intentional obstruction to the fielding side may be given out. The kind of accidental collision that occasionally results from two players watching the ball is not considered an infringement of this law. See also Out.

ODI -- One Day International.

Off-break -- A ball spun by the bowler so as to turn from off to leg for a righthanded batsman.

Off-cutter -- Fast bowler's delivery that turns sharply towards a righthanded batsman after pitching.

Offer the light -- Strictly speaking, the opposite. The law requires the umpires to determine that the light is unfit for play (see Bad light), and then to ask the batsmen if they wish to continue in the unfit conditions. If they do, play continues until the light deteriorates further and the umpires repeat the offer.

Off side -- The side of the pitch away from the batsman's legs as he faces the bowler, i.e. to the bowler's left for a right-handed batsman.

Off-spinner -- Bowler whose primary delivery is the off-break

Off stump -- Of the three stumps which comprise a wicket, the one to the off side. See also Leg stump and Middle stump.

Old favourite -- Usually to be found in the hands of a trundler when his turn comes to bat. Close inspection reveals the autograph of the young W.G.Grace and the maker's mark 'Noah and Sons, finest gopher wood'. The trundler's batting, incidentally, is instantly recognizable from his bowling - although technically correct and hard to get out, he seldom hits the ball off the square.

On side -- Alternative term for leg side.

One-day cricket -- Term usually used to denote cricket played between first class teams but not under first class conditions. The matches are of only one innings a side, and are decided by the number of runs each side scores in a pre-determined number of overs - 50 in one-day internationals, 40 or 60 in other competitions - so every match produces a winner.

One-day specialist -- A player whose game is considered more suitable for the one-day format than for first-class cricket. For a batsman, this means favouring quick scoring over the concentration required to build a long innings. England's N.H.Fairbrother (b.1963) played only ten Tests, but made 1539 runs in 56 ODIs between 1986 and 1996. One-day bowlers are more prized for accuracy and economy than for aggression and wicket-taking ability. Sharp, athletic fielding is valuable in any kind of cricket, but is especially critical under limited-overs rules.

One short -- The umpire's call and signal (touching right hand to right shoulder - well-nigh useless, since the scorers are never expecting it and have to be bellowed at anyway) when either batsman fails to make his ground when turning for a second or subsequent run. Although the subsequent run is also, by definition, short, only one run is disallowed. The enforcement of this law depends on the vigilance of the umpires. At first-class level, each umpire will move as soon as the ball is hit into a position from which he has a clear view of the popping crease; in a club game, the chances are that the umpires will be gazing dreamily after the ball, and so fail to notice when the batsman turns a yard short of the crease.

Open the face -- Turn the face of the bat to the off side. Not really commensurate with the principles of straight bat and 'in the V', but popular in the one-day game to direct the ball into gaps in the field.

Openers -- The two batsmen who commence a team's innings. Since they will be facing fresh, fast bowlers with a new ball, these are usually the two most disciplined, if not necessarily most skilful, batsmen in the team.

Orthodox spinner -- See Finger spinner.

Out -- As a special service to our American readers who may be familiar with baseball terminology (after all, this is CricketUSA®), we think we should point out that in cricket, batsmen do not 'make out', in any sense - they are mostly too short, overweight and the smell of Ralgex and linseed oil can be quite stomach-turning. (The Don was an exception - as a cricketer, and as a man.) Happiness, as any girl will tell you, is a fast bowler, preferably one of six-foot-five. A batsman gets out, or just is out. That said, there are numerous ways for a batsman to get out. See Bowled, Caught out, Handled the ball, Hit the ball twice, Hit wicket, Leg before wicket, Obstructing the field, Run out, Stumped, Timed out.

Outfield -- The area between the infield and the boundary. A shot hit into the outfield is usually worth at least one run, even if it goes straight to a fielder.

Outswinger -- Swing delivery that moves in the air away from a right-handed batsman. The bowler's intention is usually to hit the outside edge of the bat and offer a catch to slips or wicketkeeper.

Oval, the -- A cricket ground in Kennington, south London, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. Famous for the giant gas holder (no, not Tony Lewis) to one side of the ground, it has a reputation for producing the best, fastest pitches in England and is traditionally the venue for the last Test match of the English summer.

Over -- A series of consecutive balls. bowled from one end by one bowler. The international convention for an over is now six balls, although overs of four and five balls were common before 1900, and Australia and New Zealand only recently abandoned their customary eight-ball overs. No-balls and wides do not count as part of an over, so a bowler who bowls one must bowl an extra ball to compensate. Alternate overs are bowled from opposite ends of the pitch, and no bowler may bowl two overs consecutively.

Overarm -- The usual style of bowling in modern cricket, in which the ball is released above the head and bounces once before reaching the bat. According to legend, it was invented in a nineteenth-century English back garden by a girl in a crinoline, whose skirt was too full to let her bowl underarm to her brothers. Whether, when she beat the outside edge for the third time in an over, she also invented the phrase 'Good Sir, you are indeed a most fortunate bleeder', history does not record.

Over (umpire's call) -- The umpire's call after six fair balls have been bowled, or as close as he can guess to six after he dropped all his counting stones trying to signal One Short.

Overpitched -- A ball whose length allows the batsman to play forward and meet the pitch of the ball.

Overseas player -- Under current rules, English county clubs are allowed to employ one player who is not qualified to play Test matches for England. According to taste, this is either a valuable way to enhance the appeal of the county game, or a devious attempt by Johnny Foreigner to accustom his players to English conditions so he can beat us on our own patch, while at the same time undermining the development of deserving English players. As always, the truth lies somewhere between the two. The counties take two different approaches to the employment of overseas players. Some overseas players have made second homes at English clubs - former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd played regularly for Lancashire and still lives there, while South African fast bowler Allan Donald has formed a close attachment to Warwickshire, helping to coach the club's bowlers even when not employed as a player in 1996. Such players contribute enormously to the success of the club, and to the development of its young players. More recently, there has been an unseemly scramble to attract big-name overseas players on lucrative one-season contracts. Glamorgan reputedly paid Pakistani fast bowler Waqar Younis 140,000 pounds for the 1997 season. He helped them win the County Championship - to chants of "Waqar is a Welshman" from the stands - but is unlikely to become part of the club's fabric. Four clubs vied to outbid each other for the services of Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne for 1998; in the end, he turned them all down to spend the Australian winter at home with his baby daughter. Quite right too. There is no doubt that overseas players can bring valuable fresh ideas into county cricket, as well as bringing more spectators into the grounds. The danger, as is becoming apparent in English football, is that clubs will spend too much on the short-term glamour of foreign stars, rather than invest in encouraging the young local talent that is the future of the game.

Overthrow -- A further run scored when a fielder's throw misses or rebounds from the stumps. If an overthrown ball crosses the boundary, four runs are added to those the batsmen have run.

Over the wicket -- The position of the bowler relative to the wicket, such that his bowling arm is between his body and the wicket. A right-arm bowler will therefore bowl to the left of the wicket. See also Round the wicket.

'owizzeee? -- See How's that?


Pace -- (1) The speed of a bowler's delivery, as in medium-pace or, less often, slow- or fast-paced bowling. (A slow or fast bowler is usually called just that.) (2) Fast bowling. (3) High speed, as in 'the game was played at a tremendous pace.'

[Editors note: Miss Bush also sent us the following curious musings as regards to pace:

Here's one for the Newtonians out there. You know that what we're referring to as 'pace' is, in fact, velocity (well, strictly the horizontal component of a vector quantity, since what counts is the time the ball takes to travel from the bowler's hand to the batsman.) So you also know that Sir Isaac, had he lived beyond the furlongs per fortnight era, would agree that there's only one unit in which to measure velocity, and that is metres per second.

So why is it that, according to cricketers, pace comes by the yard, as in "He's lost a yard of pace since his back injury"? As anyone who's made their own curtains will know, this is meaningless because it doesn't tell you how wide the roll of pace is. I've scoured learned cricketing volumes for information on this, but can't find anything to tell me whether there is a standard width for pace, or whether medium pace comes in a wider roll than, say, searing pace. (There certainly seems to be a lot more of it about.) Not even Military Medium pace appears to adhere to a standard, and the military are famous for their measurements (well, according to Great Aunt Fanny, anyway.)

I think we should be told, and there may be scope here for a CricketUSA campaign. Our track record is good, as Gus Fraser can testify as he polishes up the new ball in Trinidad, so how about it?

So, readers. How about it?]

Pace bowler -- A bowler who bowls with pace, i.e., a fast bowler

Pad -- Usual term for the device known as a leg-guard only in cricket catalogues, a cane and canvas structure strapped to the lower leg to protect it against the impact of the ball. Also worn by the wicketkeeper.

Pad up -- (1) To put on protective equipment before going out to bat; (2) To allow the ball to hit the pad, rather than attempt to hit it with the bat.

Pair -- A duck in each innings. Also - rarely - 'a pair of spectacles'. A batsman coming in for his second innings after a duck in the first is said to be 'on a pair'.

Pajamas -- See Pyjamas. No, we're not kidding.

Partnership -- The time spent at the wicket by one pair of batsmen and the runs scored (including extras) in that time. There are ten partnerships per completed innings, labeled from first-wicket partnership to tenth-wicket partnership, in order.

Pavilion -- The clubhouse of a cricket ground, where the players change, wait to bat and take their refreshments.

Penetration -- Great Aunt Fanny has drifted off into one of her reveries, so I'd better do this one. Generally, penetrative bowling is that which is likely to take wickets, rather than merely being difficult to score off. Of course, there's nothing quite like the moment of penetration, as the gleaming red weapon slips through the last line of defence. The emphasis on economy rather than penetration may explain Great Aunt Fanny's lack of enthusiasm for the one-day game.

Pinch-hitter -- A recent and, as far as we can tell, entirely inappropriate borrowing from baseball. Rather than a substitute batsman (not allowed anyway - see Substitute), a 'pinch hitter' is a big-hitting tail-ender, promoted to the top of the batting order to take advantage of field-placement restrictions in the first 15 overs of a 50-over one-day innings.

Pitch -- (1) The mown area, 22 yards long and ten feet wide, with the wickets and creases at either end; Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the pitch. (2) In hitting the ground on its way to the batsman, the ball is said to pitch; (3) The point on the pitch (1) at which the ball pitches (2)!

Plank -- Typically an old or poor-quality bat that imparts more energy to the batsman than to the ball when hit.

Playing back -- When batting, to play a ball off the back foot, a good strategy against a short-pitched ball. See also Footwork.

Playing for his average -- Accusation levelled at a batsman who plays the role of the blocker when his team needs quick runs.

Playing forward -- When batting, to play a ball off the front foot, a good strategy against an overpitched ball. See also Footwork.

Point -- Fielding position square of wicket on off side.

Popping crease -- A transverse line four feet in front of the bowling crease. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the pitch. The batsman must ground his bat or body behind this line in order to complete a run or to avoid being stumped by the wicketkeeper. As he releases the ball, the bowler must keep some part of his front foot behind the popping crease if he is not to bowl a no-ball. (see also Benaud, Richie)

Promotion and relegation -- Not really a cricketing term - not yet anyway. Sporting leagues in Britain are routinely split into Divisions; top teams from lower divisions win promotion to the division above, while teams from the bottom of a division are relegated to the one below. Some cricket leagues do this, but it is more usual in football and rugby leagues, where more teams are involved.

Protective equipment -- Pre-war photographs show Bradman and others going out to bat in little more than pads, skimpy rubber-spiked gloves and a green Australian cap. Modern batting gloves are far more heavily padded, and yet batsmen seem to suffer more broken fingers than ever. Minimal batting equipment consists of pads for the shins and knees, a strap-on foam pad for the leading thigh, a box and a pair of gloves. Oh yes, and a bat. Other batsmen may variously add a second thigh pad, foam pads for the leading forearm and chest and - universally in modern Test cricket - a helmet, usually with a metal grille in front of the face. Certain short, nervous or pessimistic club batsmen also bat in helmets, seemingly unaware of the automatic response of the opposing fast bowlers: "Wonder what that sounds like". Please see this helpful diagram of protective equipment.

[Editors note: We can only wonder how Miss Bush, the author of this glossary, was able to discern from pre-war photographs whether or not Sir Donald George Bradman, the greatest batsman of all time, was indeed not wearing a box.]

Pull -- A cross-bat, usually back-foot batting shot, directed into the sector between long-leg and mid-on.

Push him! -- Batsman's call to his partner, urging him to run the first run quickly in the hope of inducing a mistake from the fielder, and thus turning one run into two.

Pyjamas -- Derogatory term for the coloured clothing worn in certain forms of one-day cricket. Advocates of coloured clothing regard its detractors as stick-in-the-mud traditionalists, but this is to overlook an important truth - it is invariably hideous, designed with the taste and discrimination of a two-year-old in a paint factory. (Please view this photographic evidence.)


Qadir, Abdul -- Abdul Qadir (b.1955) can take much of the credit for the rising popularity of wrist-spin bowling, an art that had appeared to be in terminal decline, in modern international cricket. His aquiline features and his quasi-mystical spinning of the ball from hand to hand as he walked back to his mark gave him the air of a magician and added to the already beguiling effect of his bowling. He played 67 Tests for Pakistan between 1978 and 1990-1, taking 236 wickets. His 9-56 in England's first innings at Lahore in 1987 is still the best innings return by any Pakistan bowler, and the best by any bowler against England.

Quicks -- (usually plural) Fast bowlers.


Rabbit -- Not-very-competent batsman, usually a tail-ender.

Raising the standard -- Much-touted but bizarrely irrelevant proposal on the future of the County game in England, produced by the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Lord MacLaurin, in August 1997. Before its publication, there was much speculation that it would propose to split the present 18-club county championship into two divisions, with promotion and relegation between them. The idea was that this would improve the competitiveness of first-class cricket and reduce the influence of the one-day game. What emerged was a proposal for an incomprehensible system of three 'conferences', with end-of-season play-offs for the leading teams, and MORE one-day cricket. Thankfully, the county clubs for once saw sense and rejected the proposal, although this means that the 1998 championship will be played under the same out-dated conditions as before. MacLaurin has since publicly wished that he'd had the nerve to stick with his preference for two divisions. I think there's a little lesson for us all in here.

Ralgex -- The most essential item in the kit bag of a club's senior player (see also Slips). By rubbing it into his groaning muscles and joints, he can reduce his time for the hundred metres to a matter of mere days. To a club novice, Ralgex is 'the stuff that nice old chap in the corner of the dressing room suggested I clean my box with.'

[Editors note: An American equivalent would be "Aspercreme" or "Heet". Tee hee.]

Ratings -- (1) Royal Navy personnel below the rank of Petty Officer; a couple of Bristol Creams and Great Aunt Fanny will tell you all you want to know about them. (2) Once upon a time, it was sufficient for a sporting hero to score the winning try against the All Blacks, or to clear six cubits and a span in the high jump. Not any more; now that everything and everyone is sponsored, the Managing Director of Dougal's Dog Biscuits wants to know that he is backing the leader in his field, so everyone has to be ranked. Cricket has always attracted more than its share of statistical anoraks. In the old days, they would marvel at the third decimal place of Denis Compton's batting average, but there was always the suspicion that a mere mean didn't fully reflect the value of the runs scored or the wickets taken. This, combined with the advent of the computer, led the accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand to spot the chance of some cheap publicity by devising a more sophisticated and 'scientific' system for ranking cricketers. The method they came up with awards points for batting and bowling performances, but applies weightings for the strength of the opposition and according to the high- or low-scoring nature of the match. Thus five top-order wickets against Australia in a high-scoring match (by implication in good batting conditions) will earn a bowler more points than five New Zealand tail-enders on a cabbage patch. A Test player's Coopers and Lybrand rating is now a part of the profile that BBC TV displays whenever it needs to fill a lull in proceedings. The accountants must be delighted. For full details of the method, and the current ranking list of Test players, visit Coopers and Lybrand's site at

The Scotch whisky brand Whyte and McKay sponsors a similar system of rankings for English county cricketers.

Records -- Cricket is full of records. So full, in fact, that hardly a Test match goes by without a commentator announcing (or being prompted to announce by the shadowy man at the back of the box) that 'This is now the highest seventh-wicket partnership for Pantsland against Trouserstan on this ground,' or something of the sort. These records are often all the less remarkable, when you consider that it this may well be only the fifth time the two teams have met at that venue, and one of those matches was rained off. Whatever, Click here to read our Fanny's essay on cricket records.

Retired hurt -- Entry in the scorebook against a batsman who was incapacitated during his innings. Such a batsman is considered not out, and may resume his innings, if fit, at the fall of a wicket. The same entry is used, out of delicacy, where, as occasionally happens, a batsman retires dead.

Return crease -- longitudinal line, four feet either side of the middle stump. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the pitch. The bowler must keep all of his back foot inside this line if he is not to bowl a no-ball.

Reverse sweep -- An unorthodox batting shot, popular in the one-day game, played by a right-handed batsman as if left-handed, or vice-versa.

Reverse swing -- A recent innovation in fast bowling technique, by which an old ball can be made to swing sharply, and in the opposite direction to that achieved by conventional swing. The cause of much, mostly ill-informed, speculation about ball tampering, reverse swing can be achieved by perfectly legal means.

Rope -- See Boundary.

Rough -- Bowler's footmarks, usually outside a right-handed batsman's leg stump, from which spin bowlers, especially wrist-spinners, can obtain more turn than from smooth areas of the pitch.

Round the back yard -- Great Aunt Fanny's favourite - a batsman bowled by a ball that passes behind his legs.

Round the wicket -- The position of the bowler relative to the wicket, such that his bowling arm is on the far side of the bowler's body from the wicket - i.e. to the right of the wicket for a right-arm bowler. See also Over the wicket.

Run -- The basic unit of scoring. To complete a run, each batsman must run from the position he stands in as the bowler bowls to make his ground at the other end, without being run out. Having completed the first run, they may turn and run more runs, as long as it is safe to do so without being run out. (see also One short)

Runner -- Where a player has sustained an injury during the game that leaves him fit to bat but unable to run, another member of his team (not a substitute), wearing the same protective equipment, may do his running for him. By introducing a third opinion into the debate over whether to take a run, this can produce hilarious - sorry, embarrassing - results.

Running on -- Commentator's shorthand for a bowler's offence in following through too close to the line of the stumps. A BBC graphic almost as familiar as the record winning fourth-innings total shows the area, 12 inches either side of the middle stump and beginning four feet in front of the popping crease, in which the bowler may not put his feet. (Small marks on the bowling crease and at the sides of the pitch provide a guide for the umpires.) The restriction was introduced to prevent bowlers roughening the pitch on the line of the wicket, thus providing an unfair advantage to spin bowlers from the other end. A bowler who infringes this law receives a caution from the umpire, followed by a final warning and removal if he persists.

Run out -- If the fielding side can dislodge a bail from the wicket with the ball before the batsman nearer that wicket has made his ground, that batsman is out, run out, and the run he was attempting does not count. The bowler is not credited with the batsman's wicket. See also Out.


Score -- A batting side's score is expressed as a total of runs scored for wickets lost, e.g. 176 for 5 or 176-5. In Australia and New Zealand, this convention is often reversed - 5 for 176. The score for a completed innings is usually written simply as a total of runs - e.g. 355, rather than 355-10 or 355 all out.

Scorer -- One of (usually) two off-field officials, whose job is to record the events of the match in the scorebook. Each side will usually supply one scorer; two scorers help each other with the identification of players and in making sure the two books agree. They are the intended recipients of the umpires' signals (with the exception of the raised finger for 'out'), and produce a summary of each batsman's innings and an analysis of each bowler's overs. Sounds great, doesn't it? At club level, it doesn't often work this way, and unless a willing schoolboy can be pressed into service (and as Great Aunt Fanny will confirm, they're harder to find than they used to be), the players waiting to bat have to keep score themselves. The result is a scoresheet in a number of varyingly legible hands, a corresponding degree of variation in the accuracy of the arithmetic and, considering all this, remarkably few fights over the result at the end of the match.

Seam -- The six rows of raised stitching around the equator of a cricket ball.

Seam bowler-- Bowling technique that causes the ball to deviate by landing the seam on the pitch.

Seamer -- See Seam bowler.

Season -- Cricket is known as a summer game, and so it is, but the wide range of climate in cricketing countries means that the timing of the season varies widely around the world. In Europe (Britain and, to some extent, Ireland, Holland and Denmark), the season begins in mid-April and extends to mid-September, with Test matches played in June, July and August. In cricketing archives, European seasons are the only ones referred to by a single year. Cricket in the the Southern Hemisphere - in South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Australia - occupies the corresponding months of the Southern summer. As in Europe, the main considerations are of firm ground and length of daylight. (See Bad light.) In tropical countries, in Asia and the Caribbean, warm weather is not usually a problem, but monsoons, hurricanes and the like can be. For this reason, the international season is usually concentrated in the early months of the year, although the domestic season extends either side of this. In all countries outside Europe, a season is referred to by the two years it spans.

Seeing it like a [insert large spherical object here] -- (of batsman) Well established and accustomed to the conditions, so that he finds the flight and speed of the ball easy to judge.

Selectors -- Members of the committee that selects a country's Test team.

Session -- One of the three periods of play, usually of approximately two hours each, on each day of a first class match.

Shakoor Rana -- Retired Pakistani railwayman and former Test umpire, who officiated in the second Test of England's series in Pakistan in 1987-8. His status as the only Pakistani umpire known outside Asia was assured when, on the second day, he stopped England's Eddie Hemmings running in to bowl to Salim Malik to inform the batsman that England captain Mike Gatting had moved a fielder closer to the wicket. Shakoor accused Gatting of cheating, and there ensued a furious, finger-wagging stand-off, before Gatting led his team from the field. The game was halted for six hours, before captain and umpire were persuaded to exchange grudging apologies. The incident was the low point in an unhappy series, marred by acrimony between the teams and mutterings about unfair decisions by the umpires. It soured cricketing relations between England and Pakistan, and England have not played a Test match in Pakistan since. The two countries are now friends again, however, thanks in part to the personal friendship between the present captains, Mike Atherton and Wasim Akram, and played a successful Test series in England in 1996.

Sheetanchor -- Variously appreciative or euphemistic term for a blocker.

Shooter -- A ball which, after pitching, travels almost along the ground. Impossible for the bowler to bowl intentionally but, when straight and fast, almost always terminal for the batsman.

Short -- Prefix added to name of fielding position, similar to 'silly'. It indicates 'close to the bat'. To confuse the Americans - and others - it's usually 'silly point' or 'silly mid-on', but 'short mid-wicket' or 'short extra cover'.

Shortpitched -- A ball whose length gives the batsman time to play it easily off the pitch with his weight on the back foot.

Shoulder arms -- Commentator's term for the technique of lifting the bat out of the path of a ball that the batsman judges to be safely away from his wicket.

Sightscreen -- White- or blue-painted board placed at the end of the ground behind the bowler in order to give the batsman a clear background against which to see the ball. Also target offered to bowler who is having difficulty locating the wicket.

Signals -- The means by which the umpires communicate their decisions to the scorers and players. They sound - and sometimes look - curiously masonic, but with the exception of the strange and pointless One Short signal, serve their purpose well. David Shepherd's (see also Nelson) variation on the leg-bye signal is worth the admission fee on its own.

Silly -- Prefix added to name of fielding position to indicate that it is extremely close to the bat, e.g. silly mid-on, silly point.

Single -- One run, as distinct from the first of several. The seemingly obvious other forms - 'double', 'triple' are not used.

Six -- Cricket, chapter two, verses nine to twenty-seven: And the Lord spake, saying: "First shalt thou hit the ball beyond the boundary on the full. Then shalt thou score six runs, no more, no less. Six shall be the number thou shalt score, and the number of the scoring shall be six. Seven shalt thou not score. Neither score thou five, excepting that thou then proceed to six. Once the number six, being the sixth number, be reached, then swingest thou thy holy bat of Noah and Sons against thy foe who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Amen.

Six-foot-five -- The ideal height for a bowler, as demonstrated by A.R.C. Fraser and A.R.Caddick (England), I.R.Bishop and C.A.Walsh (West Indies), G.D.McGrath (Australia) and C.R.Williams (Henley-in-Arden).

Sixteen stone -- A stone being 14 pounds, that would be about, erm, ah, oh about 224 pounds. Or 100 kilograms. Many bowlers who are six foot five have been known to achieve these proportions.

Skipper -- See Captain.

Skier, skyer -- A ball hit so high in the air that it descends almost vertically. Especially dangerous if it comes down close to the wicket, giving several fielders the chance to assume that someone else will catch it.

Sledging -- A term that originated in Australia for a practice that is probably as old as the game, the verbal abuse of opponents. Batsmen are more usually targets than sledgers, partly because they are outnumbered on the field, and partly because sledging can involve long words, which tend to frighten them. With the increasing use of on-field effects microphones in TV coverage of cricket, sledging poses a knotty problem. The BBC's technicians are instructed to switch on the microphone only as the bowler starts his run, and to switch it off again as soon as the ball hits or passes the bat. Despite this precaution, you didn't have to be an expert lip-reader to catch Darren Gough's 'fook me!' after he'd bowled Australia's Greg Blewett with a no-ball at Edgbaston in 1997. (Gough had Blewett caught at slip with his next ball.)

Slip -- Fielder in catching position, behind the wicket on the off side. At Test level, this is the position for the sharpest-eyed, surest-handed men in the team; in a club side, the two 50-year-old, sixteen-stone endomorphs are usually parked there because they don't often have to run far. Multiple fielders may play in this position and are called 1st, 2nd and 3rd slips, with the 1st slip being closest to the wicket-keeper. See also Fielding position.

Slippers -- Rubber-soled, unspiked cricket shoes. Usually found in a dustbin after their wearer has slipped while turning for a hasty third and been run out by half the length of the pitch.

Slog -- Unorthodox attacking batting shot, usually played regardless of the merits of the delivery. Also used generally of the closing stages of a one-day innings, where scoring quickly is more important than conserving wickets.

Soft hands -- Nothing to do with Fairy Liquid, otherwise Nanette Newman might have been the finest player of legspin ever to bat for England. This is part of a batsman's defensive technique by which he allows the bat to yield on contact with the ball. The idea is that, even if the ball turns or bounces unexpectedly, an uncontrolled shot played with soft hands is less likely to carry to the close fielders.

Spell -- Sequence of consecutive overs bowled by one bowler from one end. (Interspersed, obviously, with overs by other bowlers from the other end.) A fast bowler can seldom sustain peak effectiveness for more than about ten overs (even a bowler of six-foot-five), but spells of four to eight overs are more usual; slow bowlers can bowl much longer spells, although even they tire eventually.

Spin specialist -- Not a true specialist, since any batsman that can't play fast bowling is unlikely to make much of an impression, a batsman who is comfortable against the subtle menace of spin is an asset to any team. Notoriously rare in England, especially since the departure from the Test side of M.W.Gatting (b.1957), although J.P.Crawley (b.1971) and N.V.Knight (b.1969) have shown encouraging signs.

Spinner -- A bowler whose bowling style incorporates some form of spinning the ball. See Finger spinner, Wrist spinner.

Splice -- The V-shaped join between the willow blade and cane handle of the bat. The natural compliance of the wood has little effect up here, so a ball that bounces sufficiently to hit the splice will cause the batsman some discomfort. Tee hee.

Square -- The closely-mown central part of the playing area, from which pitches are prepared. The width of the square varies with the size and prestige of the ground, while its length, of course, is fixed at a little over 22 yds. The square at Henley is about 10 or 12 pitches wide, while a Test match ground might have the space for 20 or more. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the pitch.

Square (position) -- Fielding position close to an imaginary line drawn at right angles to the centre-line of the pitch and passing through the batsman's guard position. Also used to describe the location of other things such as batting shots.

Square cut -- See Cut.

Stance -- See Guard.

Standing back -- Term used to describe the position of the wicketkeeper 10 to 20 yards behind the wicket. Used with a fast bowler so the wicketkeeper has more time to react.

Standing up -- Term used to describe the position of the wicketkeeper immediately behind the wicket. Used with a slow bowler to be in position to perform a stumping.

Stock bowler -- Bowler whose primary task is to bowl a large number of overs as economically as possible. (See Economy.) Something few bowlers will admit to being (see Strike bowler) but a role that someone has to play to prevent the batsmen filling their boots on an easy pitch.

Straight bat -- The technique of holding the bat perpendicular to the ground, face to the bowler, that gives the best chance of hitting a good ball. Used as a byword for correct, disciplined batting, and a good way to avoid hearing "Bad luck, mate".

Sticky dog -- See Sticky wicket.

Sticky wicket -- A wet pitch, drying in the sun, on which batting is extremely difficult. Rare at first-class level, now that pitches are covered. Sometimes called a 'sticky dog'.

Strike bowler -- A bowler, usually a fast A bowler or an aggressive spinner, whose primary aim is to take wickets. What every A bowler would like to think he is; best employed in short spells so that he is fresh and effective when he is most needed.

Striker -- The batsman facing the bowling. See also Non-striker.

Stroke -- See Batting Shots.

Strokemaker -- An aggressive, hard-hitting batsman, usually better suited to the middle of the batting order than to the top. Australia's M.E.Waugh (b.1965) is perhaps the leading example in modern Test cricket.

Stumped -- If the wicketkeeper removes a bail from the wicket with the ball, while the striker is out of his ground but not attempting a run, the striker is out, stumped. The bowler is credited with this wicket. Only the wicketkeeper may perform a stumping: if any other fielder touches the ball, even unintentionally, the batsman is run out, not stumped.

Stumps -- (1) The three posts which hold the two bails. The bails rest in grooves at the top of the stumps. Together, the stumps and bails comprise a wicket. The three stumps are individually known as the off stump, the leg stump and the middle stump. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the wicket. (2) Term used, most commonly in Australia, for the end of a day's play.

Substitute -- A fielder deputizing for a teammate who is incapacitated during the game, not simply unable to field due to being 55 and sixteen stone. A substitute may not bat or bowl.

Sunday League -- See Competitions, domestic.

Sundries -- Australian term for extras.

Swan off -- To go somewhere one's spouse would rather one didn't, usually to the cricket club on a day when said partner has found a small household task that simply must be done that afternoon. The verb is often used (and the task identified) retrospectively, when one arrives home in triumph, expecting an audience eager for tales of one's one-for-plenty and heroic nought-not-out, only to find that the toilet's been leaking again, the garden fence needs creosoting, and it's all one's own fault.

Sweep -- A front-foot leg-side batting shot played with bat parallel and very close to the ground. Possible only against slow bowling, and must be skilfully played to avoid giving a catch off the top edge of the bat.

Sweeper -- Modern term, scorned by the purists, for a fielder on the extra-cover boundary, usually in a one-day match, to cut off an aggressive batsman's favourite scoring shot.

Swing -- Bowling technique that causes the ball to deviate in the air. Factors that influence this deviation include: the angle of the seam relative to the travel of the ball, the relative shininess of the two sides of the ball, the bowler's arm and hand action, the hardness and prominence of the seam, cloud cover and relative humidity. That the ball does swing is evident even to the casual observer, but to date, no amount of scientific investigation has fully explained the mechanism by which it does so.

Swing bowler -- A bowler who employs swing in his bowling.


Tail-ender -- Batsman, usually in the team as a bowler, who bats late in the order.

Take guard -- To mark, with the help of the umpire, the resting position of the bat on the popping crease. The batsman may ask to cover, for example, leg stump or leg stump and middle stump. This is important in that it determines the position of the batsman's eyes, and hence his judgement of the balls he has to play and those he can safely leave alone.

Taken off -- (Of bowler) prevented from bowling again in the innings. (See Caution, Running on, Bouncer, Beamer.)

Tea -- The first thing on the mind of a certain type of amateur cricketer (see Sixteen stone). A club may have a cabbage patch for a square, provide neither scorer nor umpire and possess neither sightscreens nor decent changing rooms, and yet remain on the fixture list year after year; but should it provide substandard refreshments in the interval between innings, questions will be raised at the AGM as to whether this is a worthy place for us to be spending our Sundays. Draw your own conclusions.

Telegraph -- (1) one of two (Daily and Sunday) British newspapers, whose news and editorial content is rather comically right-wing (India's recent celebrations of 50 years of independence must have come as a nasty shock to Telegraph readers), but whose cricket coverage is remarkably balanced, lucid and comprehensive. (2) bizarre, and thankfully obsolescent, term for what normal people call the scoreboard.

Teletubbies -- See BBC.

Test -- The highest level of cricket. A Test is a first class match played between two full international teams over five days, usually as part of a series of three, five or six matches. At present, there are nine Test-playing countries: Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Test Match Special -- BBC Radio's ball-by-ball cricket programme, not just for Test matches but also for One-Day Internationals and major occasions in the domestic season. Revered within the game and enjoyed by many non-cricketers for the style and character of its presentation, it defies simple description, but can be sampled at intervals during England's Test matches on the BBC World Service.

Test trial -- Something from the old days, when domestic programmes were less crowded than today. Two teams of 'probable' and 'possible' Test players would play a match under first-class rules, to give the selectors a chance to watch them in action. Very rare nowadays, although a match did take place at Birmingham in April 1997 between an England 'A' XI and 'The Rest'. It was ruined by rain and near-freezing conditions, and yielded very little useful information.

Testimonial match -- Non-competitive match, nowadays usually in one-day format, played to raise funds for a player's benefit, or for some other cause. Teams are often pro-celebrity based, or feature famous players from overseas or years gone by.

Third man -- Fielding position on the boundary, behind the wicket on the off side.

Tie -- A match that finishes - both sides' innings completed - with the scores level is a tie. This is a rare occurrence. Note that if the scores are level but the side batting last has not completed its innings, the match is a draw, not a tie.

Time -- The umpire's call to indicate the end of a session or a day's play. He then removes the bails from the wicket.

Timed out -- After a wicket falls, the next batsman has two minutes to appear on the field. Should he intentionally take longer than this - i.e. not because five wickets have fallen in two overs and he is frantically trying to get his box in the right way up - he may be given out. Nope, never seen this one either. See also Out.

Timing -- The difference between that exquisite moment when a gentle push sends the ball speeding to the rope, and the big heave that goes nowhere and leaves your arms vibrating and your teeth feeling like Pink Panther-style crazy paving. It means meeting the ball with the sweetest part of the bat at the optimum point in its trajectory, thus conserving the kinetic energy the ball already has. It is what makes the best batsmen such a pleasure to watch - unless you happen to be bowling to them, of course.

TMS -- See Test Match Special.

Topspinner -- A wrist-spinner's delivery bowled to spin 'end-over-end', in the direction of travel. Rather than turning, the topspinner picks up speed after pitching. Some finger-spinners also bowl a variety of topspinner.

Tosh -- Generally in British English used to mean 'rubbish', so bowling can be 'tosh', as was 'The English Patient'.

[Editor's note: As Great Aunt Fanny has generally been loathe to include jargon or slang which is not strictly cricket-related in our Dictionary, we surmise that she must have felt an overwhelming need to comment on 'The English Patient.' What do you think?]

Toss -- After naming their players, the captains toss a coin. The winner of the toss may elect to bat or field first. Unless the conditions are very likely to favour his swing or seam bowlers, the winning captain will usually choose to bat.

Trapped -- Lazy commentator's or journalist's automatic description of a batsman being out lbw, so much so that it may appear three or four times in an account of a single innings.

Trundler -- A club player who may once have been a fast bowler, but who is now reduced by age to bowling at slow-medium pace. Immensely boring to watch and to play against, a true trundler is still fiendishly difficult to score off. This may be why every club league team seems to have one.

TV Replay -- A replay on TV. Current Test rules allow for a third, off-field umpire to adjudicate line decisions - i.e. run-outs, stumpings and boundaries, but not catches or lbws - with the aid of slow-motion replays.

Twelfth man -- See Substitute.


Umpire -- One of the two officials who control the game on the field. At first-class level, these are usually respected ex-players with a detailed knowledge of the game. This is true of some club umpires too, but sadly, not of many.

Unbeaten -- Not out.

Underarm -- From being a dirty part of most cricketers, this became a dirty word in the game in (I think) 1978. With New Zealand requiring six to win from the last ball of a one-day international, Australian captain Greg Chappell called on his brother Trevor to bowl the last ball underarm, along the ground. Underarm bowling was the norm in the game's formative years in the 18th century, but then so were top hats, powdered wigs (sorry Goochie) and Union Jacks in the American colonies. The game has, of course, moved on since then, but underarm bowling remains legal, so long as the bowler informs the batsman of his intention. After the Chappell incident, however, a rule was introduced to require overarm bowling in one-day internationals.

Universities -- For reasons of tradition, the university teams of Oxford and Cambridge are still considered first class. Although they do not play in the County Championship, the universities each play several three-day matches against county teams. Now that all players are full-time professionals, however, such matches tend to be unequal contests, although they provide useful early experience for those student players (such as England captain Mike Atherton) who go on to play professionally. The counties tend to use the matches as practice games, resting their main players and introducing those in need of first class experience or match-fitness.

Unorthodox spinner -- A seldom used term for Wrist spinner.

Use his feet -- When batting, for the batsman to leave his crease to bring himself closer to the pitch of the ball, or even to turn a good-length ball into a full toss. In doing this, he risks being stumped if he misses the ball, but it is a tactic that can upset a bowler's rhythm and accuracy.


V, in the -- Between mid-off and mid-on - part of the 'straight bat' theory of batting. This is where you can hit the ball without hitting across the line.

Varsity match -- The universities of Oxford and Cambridge play each other annually at just about every sport they play, from archery to yachting. In the major sports, like rugby and cricket, the matches are played at their games' headquarters, and are usually won by Cambridge. For those who care (i.e. the players' parents), the 1998 Varsity match takes place at Lord's on 1, 2 and 3 July.

Village cricket -- Imaginary game, usually involving warm beer and cucumber sandwiches, cringemakingly depicted in a hundred misty-eyed Merrie Englande-style films and TV dramas. There is invariably a blacksmith, and usually a village squire and a bicycling vicar as well. Note to those contemplating a visit to England in search of this phenomenon: DON'T.


Wa-hoo -- see Cow shot

Waaaaaaaaaaaah? -- See How's that?

Wait! -- The call from one batsman to the other indicating that he should wait before running. See Calling.

Walk -- (of batsman) leave the field voluntarily when dismissed, without waiting to be given out by the umpire.

Watercooler -- What is alleged to have been placed in the dressing-room at Chelmsford to replace Graham Gooche's locker in order to eliminate bickering over who should have the retired batsman's spot, thought to have talismanic powers.

Wicket -- (1) The structure of three vertical stumps and two horizontal bails, 28 inches high by nine wide, at either end of the pitch, that it is the batsman's primary responsibility to defend. Please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the wicket. Also please see this diagram for a graphical representation of the wicket's placement on the pitch.(2) By extension from (1), the batsman's right to be on the field; by getting a batsman out, a bowler is said to take his wicket. (3) Term colloquially but incorrectly used to refer to the pitch.

Wicketkeeper -- A specialized fielder who stands behind the wicket to catch those balls the batsman does not hit. To a slow bowler, he will stand immediately behind the wicket ('standing up'), in order to perform a stumping. To a fast bowler, this is too difficult and dangerous, so he stands 10-20 yards from the wicket ('standing back'), where he has more time to react. The wicketkeeper wears heavy leather gauntlets to protect his hands and pads similar to the batsman's on his shins. Although the law does not specifically prohibit it, other fielders do not wear gloves.

Wide -- A ball that passes so far from the batsman that he cannot hit it, something that few umpires at club level seem competent to judge once, let alone to judge consistently. The batsman can be out to a wide in any way that is physically possible, given that the ball may not, by definition, pass within reach of the wicket or his bat. A wide counts one run to the batting side's score. If the batsmen run, or the ball goes to the boundary, that number of wides is scored instead.

Willow -- Wood from which cricket bats are made, usually grown in eastern England, even for those bats made in other countries. Hence 'to wield the willow', which means to bat and is not - in most cases - synonymous with 'to beat the bishop'.

Winning Margin -- If the side batting last wins the game, its margin of victory is expressed as the number of wickets still standing as it passes the winning target. The result of the first Test in the 1997 Ashes series was as follows:

Australia 118 and 477
England 478-9 dec and 119-1

England won by nine wickets

If the side fielding last wins the game, its margin of victory is the difference between its total of runs and that of the other side. The result of the third Test of the 1997 Ashes series was as follows:
Australia 235 and 395-8 dec
England 162 and 200

Australia won by 268 runs

Where one side's score in one innings is greater than the other's aggregate of two completed innings, the winning side is said to win by an innings and the difference between the totals. The result of the fourth Test in the 1997 Ashes series was as follows:
England 172 and 268
Australia 501-9 dec

Australia won by an innings and 61 runs.

Women's cricket -- For too long the Cinderella area of the sport (in my younger days, it was all I could do to get so much as a good knock-up behind the pavilion), women's cricket has increased sharply in popularity in recent years. I can think of two possible reasons for this. Firstly, in 1993, a summer when the men's team was being soundly thrashed by Australia, England's women beat New Zealand at Lord's to win the World Cup. Secondly, women players have at long last abandoned the ridiculous 'culottes' they used to wear (whether these were skirts or baggy shorts was never clear, despite my great-nephew's careful observation through powerful binoculars at the 1993 final), in favour of trousers. Although physical factors dictate that there is less brute force in the women's game, at the top level it is played with great skill and at a considerable pace. There is no giggling and no throwing like a girl, and the display of exuberant but controlled hitting by England's Jo Chamberlain in the 1993 final was worth the admission money on its own. It should be the hope of all cricketers that the women's game will continue to grow, for it represents the best hope that the words 'You were out all day on Saturday, surely you're not playing Sunday as well' will be heard no more.

World Cup -- A one-day international tournament held every four years. The nine Test-playing countries qualify automatically, and are joined by the top three 'minor' countries from the ICC Trophy. The World Cup is presently held by Sri Lanka, and will next be contested in England in 1999.

Wrist spinner -- Bowler who turns his wrist at the point of delivery to impart spin to the ball. This action can impart far more spin than the finger spinner, and by varying the angle of the wrist, the bowler can vary the direction of the spin, and thus the turn of the ball. (See Googly) A right-arm wrist spinner is a leg-spinner.

Wrong'un -- See Googly


XI -- Conventional notation for a cricket team, or 'eleven'. 'The Duchess of Norfolk's XI' is not a shocking Victorian novel, but the invited team assembled for a touring team's traditional first fixture at Arundel Castle in Sussex. The Roman numerals are probably a product of English public school elitism - cricket and hockey teams are XIs, rugby union teams XVs, but one seldom hears of a Tottenham Hotspur (football) XI or a Rochdale Hornets (rugby league) XIII. Irrelevant thought: in these days of Premiership squad numbers running into the 30s, wouldn't it be fun to put Roman numbers on footballers' shirts? "Taking the field for Barnsley, number XXXVIII, Norbert Fothergill." They'd have to stop at 39, though, or the players might mistake XL for the shirt size and wear them inside-out. [Note: the M&B Brew XI is not a cricket team.]


Yes! -- The call from one batsman to the other indicating that he should run. See Calling.

Yorker -- A ball bowled to pitch at the batsman's feet, to pass under his bat and hit the wicket.


Zoehrer, T.J. -- Tim Zoehrer (b.1961) kept wicket in 10 Tests for Australia between 1985 and 1987, claiming 18 catches and one stumping.

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