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The Ashes, What Cricketing Terms Really Mean

By August 7, 2015Literature

What? I’m English, I’m a cricket nut and we had the rare enjoyment of skittling out the Ozzies for 60 runs yesterday (06/08/15). Of course I’m going to maximise any enjoyment derived from it not being my team who have been humiliated. (for once)

Cricket is that quintessentially English sport; where else would you find a sport that lasted five days, broke regularly for drinks, had dedicated lunch and tea breaks, had nine of the eleven players on one of the teams sitting in the Pavilion drinking Pimms and often ended up with neither side winning?
And where else would you ever hear of someone flashing at a googly and snicking their ball to slip?

The Ashes

Let’s start with the elephant in the room; The Ashes. The competition England and Australia are currently fighting out this tiny trophy is, I believe, the smallest trophy given to the winners of an international competition. The Ashes trophy is simply a small urn filled with the ashes of a burned bail from a game played in 1882 where England were defeated by Australia and the loss was deemed ‘the death of English cricket’. There is an inscription label on the side of the urn that reads.

“In affectionate remembrance of English Cricket which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. RIP. NB. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

Played ‘at least once every four years’  the competition is played over a series of five, five day tests with The Ashes either won outright, or if (the series is) drawn, retained by the previous winners.

Asking Rate

The number of runs required per over in order for the following team to win; usually in a One Dayer or Twenty Twenty match.

Ball Tampering

The illegal practice of changing the cricket ball’s behaviour, usually achieved by scuffing it, picking at the seam or using an artificial (not sweat or saliva) lubricant to make the ball swing.


Simply, the batsman; or the one who is holding the cricket bat.

Bat Pad

A fielding position close to the batsman designed to catch balls which pop up off the bat, often via the batsman’s pads.


The cricket ball is supposed to bounce at some point between the bowler and batter. Occasionally it doesn’t, sometimes it sails past the batter’s head; that’s a beamer.


A pitch that favours the batsmen and not the bowler.


No, not the Neighbour’s dog, this is a ball that is pitched short (bounces closer to the bowler than the batter) and then bounces up past the batter at chest or head height.


The perimeter (usually a bit of rope) that denotes the outside edge of the playing field.


The official description claims this to be an abdominal protector but we all know it’s there to protect your meat ‘n two veg, your crown jewels or your smuggled budgie.


Runs scored when the batsman hasn’t touched the ball. Probably from ‘bye bye ball’ maybe.

Cow Corner

An unconventional fielding position, on the midwicket/long-on boundary. The term is thought to have originated at Dulwich College where there was the corner of a field containing livestock on that edge of the playing area. Fielders were dispatched to the “cow corner”


Popping  Crease – The line which the bowler must be behind when he releases the ball and the batsmen must be behind to avoid being run out.


A simple catch.


A Hindi/Urdu word which means “second” or “other”, the doosra is the offspinner’s version of the googly, delivered out of the back of the hand and turning away from the right-hand batsman.


A score of zero.

A Golden Duck, out first ball without scoring.


Runs not scored by batsmen. There are four common extras – byes, leg byes, wides and no-balls.


A legspinner ball that appears to be pitching short but the ball skids on quickly and often results in bowled or lbw.

Full Toss

A ball that reaches the batsmen without bouncing.


A bit of repair work on the pitch, usually made by a batsman tapping his bat on a perceived divot after he’s had a delivery sail past his nose. (Not my fault, there was a bloody great hole in the wicket!)


The legspinner bowler’s variation that turns into the right-handed batsman and away from the left-hander


A ball tracking technology which can be helpful in judging LBWs.


A fixed-duration segment of the game, during which one team attempts to score while the other team attempts to prevent the first from scoring.

Also the length of time a single batsman remains at the crease before being got out, or running out of team mates.


A bowled ball that is just too good for the batsman, one that leaves him flailing around and often; OUT.

King Pair

A double Golden Duck. Hardly worth getting padded up for.


Leg Before Wicket; In simple terms, if your leg is what stops the ball from hitting your wicket, you’re out.
Yes it’s more complicated than that, pitching in line etc, but for this blog, keep your leg out of the way of the ball!


A virgin over; a series of six balls in which no runs are scored.

Middle (it)

Simply, hitting the ball with the middle of the bat.


The English superstition that 111 and its multiples are unlucky. The sticks resemble 111, and is loosely connected with Lord Nelson’s physical attributes, a Double Nelson is 222.
Older umpires would often be seen hopping or standing on one leg if the score was a Nelson.


The slightest of contacts between bat and ball.


A non-batsman promoted up the order towards the end of a day’s play with the idea of shielding a recognised batsman in the final overs; a form of damage limitation.

No Ball

An illegitimate delivery, usually when the bowler has overstepped on the front crease


The ending of a batsman’s innings. There are ten possible ways of being out: bowled, caught, hit wicket, lbw, stumped, timed out, handled ball, obstruction, hitting the ball twice, and run out.


The area in which the game is played; also the bounce of the cricket ball.


This is how the batsmen score, they run between the wickets and each time they reach the crease, a run is scored.
Run rate, the average number of runs scored per over.
Run out, when a batsman has not reached the safety of the popping crease before having his bails broken by the cricket ball.


No, not hurtling down a snowy hill on a tea tray, sledging is actually rather frowned upon. It’s when players will purposefully try and put off the opposing team by verbally abusing them.
I find it quite funny, especially a certain incident between Freddie and Tino.


Belting the ball; whacking it, hitting it with the bat anyway you can that is not considered a recognised coaching shot.


Bowlers who tend to be a bit rubbish at batting, so come in towards the end of an innings.


Anything. Really it could mean anything; the stumps and bails, the 22 yards between the stumps, hitting the stumps, the score of a pair of batsmen, pick something on a cricket pitch, it’s probably been called a wicket at some point.


A ball that pitches at the feet of the batsman. Hard to play and often results in an LBW.

Isn’t the game of cricket filled with weird and wonderful terminologies. The above are in no way a comprehensive, or even a completely factual list. I’m sure I’ve explained some of the terms incorrectly and missed out some corkers.

Silly Mid On/Off, see I forgot that.. That’s a fielding position you just don’t want to be standing in, unless you’re either insane or don’t care about your face.

I hope you enjoyed our little foray into the sporting world; as we speak the Australians are 7 wickets down and 90 runs behind England  who are still to bat. I think we may have this one in the bag, and with that regained those little bits of burned bail.

Oh and our pride.

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