Friday, May 24, 2024




I confess that I am not a fan or follower of cricket and find watching it as dull as dishwater.

However, here are comments on some cricketing words and phrases, plus a few anecdotes.

By the way:

The expression ‘dull as dishwater’ originated in the 1700s and originally appeared as ‘dull as ditchwater.’ Roadsides commonly had ditches alongside which often contained dirt, debris and muddy water. Either through careless pronunciation or similar analogy, the phrase dull as dishwater seems to have overtaken the original expression in popularity. An early example can be found in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1837): ‘He’d be sharper than a serpent’s tooth, if he wasn’t as dull as ditchwater.’


Some explanations as to origin:
  • It derived from the Old French “criquet”, meaning “goal, post, or stick”.
  • Alternatively from the Middle Dutch “kricke”, meaning “stick” or “staff”. The latter Middle Dutch derivation from “kricke” is generally considered more likely due to the strong medieval trade connections between south-east England and Flanders, which belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy.
  • A further alternative explanation: it comes from the Middle Dutch phrase for hockey, “met de krik ket sen”, which means “with the stick, chase”. Early cricket was played with a stick that resembled more a hockey stick than the modern day cricket bat. Bowlers, at the time, typically kept the ball on the ground or at least skimmed the ground, instead of pitching the ball as they do today. As a response to the change towards pitching and bouncing the ball, in the late 18th century, the straight bat was introduced and is still used to this day.

The game of cricket itself is thought to have been played as early as the 13th century, with the first direct reference to it appearing in 1598 in a court case which referenced a game called “krekett” (sometimes spelled “creckett”) being played at the Royal Grammar School in England in 1550.

Cricket gradually grew in popularity until, in the 18th century, it was named the official sport of England, being the favored leisure activity among the privileged class.

Evolution of the cricket bat. The original "hockey stick" (left) evolved into the straight bat from c. 1760 when pitched delivery bowling began.

Painting by Francis Cotes, The Young Cricketer, 1768

The first recorded photo of a cricket match taken on 25 July 1857 by Roger Fenton

Brit cricket commentator Brian Johnston is said to have commented upon Michael Holding of the West Indies bowling to Peter Willey of England in a Test match at The Oval in 1976: “The bowler's Holding; the batsman's Willey." 

Another Johnston item: During a Test match at the Oval in August 1991, Jonathan Agnew suggested that when Ian Botham was out hit wicket, trying to hurdle the stumps, it was because he had failed to "get his leg over" (a British slang term meaning to have sex; Botham's sexual exploits had attracted national attention). Johnston carried on commentating and giggling for 30 seconds before dissolving into helpless laughter.

The Ashes:

The Ashes is a men's Test cricket series played biennially between England and Australia.

The term originated in a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, immediately after Australia's 1882 victory at The Oval, its first Test win on English soil. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and that "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". The mythical ashes immediately became associated with the 1882–83 series played in Australia, before which the English captain Ivo Bligh had vowed to "regain those ashes". The English media therefore dubbed the tour the quest to regain the Ashes.

After England won two of the three Tests on that tour, a small urn was presented to Bligh in Melbourne. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of a wooden bail, and were humorously described as "the ashes of Australian cricket".

The Ashes urn


Bail, Stumps and Wicket:

In the sport of cricket, a bail is one of the two smaller sticks placed on top of the three stumps to form a wicket.

The bails are used to determine when the wicket is broken or put down, which in turn is one of the critical factors in determining whether a batsman is out bowled, stumped, run out or hit wicket.

The first testicular guard was used in cricket in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.

It took 100 years for men to realise that the brain is also important.


In cricket, an appeal (locally known as a "Howzat", from “How’s that?’) is the act of a player (or players) on the fielding team asking an umpire for a decision regarding whether a batter is out or not.

According to Law 31 of the Laws of Cricket, an umpire may not rule a batter out unless the fielding side appeals for a decision. However, in practice most umpires will give a batter out to an obvious bowled or caught.

On many occasions when a batter has otherwise technically been out, the fielding team has not realised, so neglected to appeal, and so the umpire has not declared them out.

An appeal may be made at any point before the bowler starts their run-up for the next ball.

By the way:

Howzat" is also a song by Australian band Sherbet, released in May 1976. The song reached number 1 in Australia.


Some of the lyrics:

You told me I was the one
The only one who got your head undone
And for a while I believed the line that you spun
But I've been lookin' at you
Lookin' closely at the things you do
I didn't see you the way you wanted me to

How, How, Howzat?
You messed about I caught you out
Now that I've found where you're at
It's good-bye
Well Howzat?
It's good-bye


A deceptive spinning delivery by a leg spin bowler, also known (particularly in Australia) as the wrong 'un. For a right-hander bowler and a right-handed batsman, a googly will turn from the off side to the leg side.

Hat Trick:

A bowler taking a wicket off each of three consecutive deliveries that he bowls (whether in the same over or split up in two consecutive overs, or two overs in two different spells).


Verbal abuse in simple terms, or a psychological tactic in more complex terms. Used by cricketers both on and off the field to gain advantage of the opposition by frustrating them and breaking the concentration of the opposition. Considered in some cricketing countries to be against the spirit of the game, although occasional sledging remains common.

A well-known sledge:

Portly Eddo Brandes was a Zimbabwean medium-pacer by day and chicken farmer by night. During a one-day match between Australia and Zimbabwe in 1996, Australian bowler Glenn McGrath was becoming increasingly frustrated with Brandes’ play.

After several play-and-misses, McGrath looked Eddo up and said: “Why are you so fat?”

Brandes immediately retorted: “Because every time I make love to your wife she gives me a biscuit.”

To conclude, an item which has previously been in Bytes -

The victory song of the Australian Cricket Team, sung by the players after each victory:

"Under the Southern Cross I stand
A sprig of wattle in my hand
A native of my native land
Australia, you fucking beauty"

Maybe it should be the national anthem.

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