Cricket is not a game that an outsider can easily pick up and understand.
Apart from attempting to decipher what Alastair Cook does, newbies to the sport will also struggle with the rather Shakespearean sounding terms used by its players, commentators and fans.
One might be able to explain what a googly is, or what LBW stands for or even how to use a Dernbach. However, do you know the history behind this cricketing terminology?
Below is a random sample of some of the more interesting genealogy.
Let’s start with this innocuously sounding, apparently self evident name. It describes what is known as a ‘short ball’ , which is ironic, as those small in stature like James Taylor can’t actually reach them.
The name doesn’t come from the way the ball bounces steeply as one may imagine it does, but from the famous dog in the Australian sitcom ‘Neighbours’.
The generally accepted story is that during filming of a street cricket scene for the show in the 1989, Bouncer leapt at a short ball in an attempt to try and catch it. Unfortunately, he required assistance from the sound technician as the composite ball caught him flush on the nose.
Bouncer retired hurt from filming that day.
The word ‘bouncer’ entered the cricketing vernacular when in 2006, Shane Warne re-lived the story with Ian Healy during the 2nd day’s coverage of the Australia versus West Indies ODI in Brisbane.
Shane Warne was on the set of Neighbours that day in 1989 as the understudy for Toadfish.
Lady Delia de la Schlumberger of East Wessex was considered the finest out fielder of her time. Quick across the ground, a lethal arm and an ability to ensure her hat and camisole remained firmly in place no matter the circumstances.
During the English women’s tour of India in 1883, Lady Delia took a fancy to the Maharaja of Punjab during an official rest day. Over high tea, the playboy King left a WhatsApp message for Lady Delia with instructions on how to find his palatial boudoir.
The following day Lady Delia took a stupendous catch on the boundary from a skied top edge off the bat of Pooja Narine. The Maharaja was asked his thoughts on the fair skinned beauty by his brother, Prince Sehwag of Tendulkar.
‘I don’t know much about cricket, but last night I learned she has a fine pair of legs.’
The story was overheard by the royal chai walla, who promptly fed it to the touring cricket journalist Mr Scyld Etheridge. Given the poor English spoken by the boy selling tea, Mr Etheridge took the story to mean that the place where Lady Delia took the catch was known as ‘Fine Leg’.
The name has stuck ever since, forever highlighting the need for the media to triple check their stories before going to print.
Although a relatively recent term in regards to cricket, the word ‘Maximum’ dates back to Roman times.
In 58BC, head council to Emporer Trajan was the much loved Septimius Maximus. One of his key duties was to select how many men would bravely die fighting the lions at the Colosseum.
The practice of the time was to condemn no more than four men at once. Collectively, they were known as a ‘boundary of men’.
However, Septimius Maximus, in an effort to lift the pre-match entertainment, introduced two “Emporer” picks to add to the existing four men. These guys were chosen from a draft pool called the ‘Infelicitas Personam Leto’. This translates loosely to ‘the unlucky persons to be slain’, or IPL for short.
Promoters of the day sold tickets to the new 6 man events and called them “Maximums” in honour of Septimius’ innovation.
The term didn’t find its way into cricketing terminology until the Indian summer of 2009. Commentator Ravi Shastri chose to use it after an MS Dhoni six.
Given no one knew what the relevance of the term was, Shastri eloquently went on to tell the story of Septimius Maximus in a manner that the doctor would have ordered.
An area of the ground made famous by the Steve Waugh across the line slog, Cow Corner is a well established cricketing term.
It was first coined by English Lt Colonel William Whitehead in 1742.
During this period, Scottish marauders were making life difficult for the northern English farmers by swooping down from the Highlands during the night and stealing livestock.
The Lt Colonel was in charge of the eastern coastal defences. At the time, cricket was enjoying a renaissance in that part of the world. However, the Scots had rejected the game and instead preferred golf.
Given the raiders were unlikely to look on the cricket fields for livestock to steal, Whitehead ordered that all herders move their cattle to the south east corner of Giles Clarke Field in the quaint rural town of Mooresborough.
He dubbed this area ‘cow corner’.
Whitehead’s intuition proved to be correct.
That night, the Scots went looking for cows to steal in the paddocks rather than on the cricket field where they were hiding under camouflaged canvas sheets. The red coats were waiting and went on to slay the descendants of William Wallace to a man.
The Scots would take years to recover, never fielding a decent cricket team or golfer for centuries.
A memorial plaque can be still found at the area known as ‘Cow Corner’ on Giles Clarke Field.
“Here in 1972, eleven score of brave bovine stock survived by believing in the inspired leadership of Lt Colonel William Whitehead. Hit ye balls here with reverence to those jerseys that came before you.”
It’s a pretty crappy plaque and rather dangerous for the youngsters fielding there on a Sunday morning.
Uneducated Englishmen claim the word ‘yorker’ likely comes from the Middle English word “Yuerke”, meaning to trick or deceive.
However, they would be incorrect.
It in fact references the traders from the ship ‘The Banal Strauss’ that sailed from Yorkowicz, a small fishing village near Gdansk in Poland in 1909.
These visceral merchants landed at Bath on the 29th February of that same year, bringing goods to trade such as smoked sardines and plum vodka.
Famous Somerset historian Jeremy Clarkson recalls the events of that fateful night.
The Poles visited the best tavern in town, the Drunken Gower, and traded their wares for lager.
After quite a volatile evening of eating and drinking, the captain of The Banal Strauss, a man by the name of Herschelle Goldberg, decided that he could lift the blacksmith’s anvil.
Remarkably, the drunk captain Goldberg showed incredible strength and was able to lift the steel, only to drop it on his toes.
The town’s local cricket captain, who happened to witness the event, tweeted that a Pole had just “Yorkowiczed” himself. He meant to reference the stupidity of a drunk foreigner inflicting unintentional self harm.
However, his team mates took the term and used it in their next match against the Surrey Protestant XI. Any ball landing on an opponents toes was referred to as a Yorkowicz.
It was later shortened to ‘yorker’ by the younger, hipper members of the team.
In the Jewish religion, males are circumcised on their 8th day of life.
In 1525, Rabbi Aaron Krusty travelled from Romania to France to teach the Jewish people of Aquitaine Province how to perform a proper bris (circumcision ceremony).
The Rabbi meticulously taught how when the knife slices away from the body, that the foreskin will follow in the same direction.
However, Frenchman Sebastian Henri somehow made the correct stroke, but had the remnants fly in the opposite direction of what was intended.
The Rabbi took this story back with him to native Romania. Later that year, when umpiring his son’s under 12 game at the Transylvania Sports Stadium, Rabbi Krusty witnessed his boy aim to play a classical cover drive yet see the ball skip to the fine leg boundary. The opposite of where he intended.
The French Cut was born.
When the 3rd fleet of convicts arrived in Botany Bay from the Thames in 1796, it brought with it something the country had never seen before. White females.
The Governor of the day was a grossly overweight single man going by the name of Mitch Gabba. He saw the landing of the women as an opportunity to find himself a wife.
Over consecutive nights, he invited six different ladies into his dining tent to impress them with fillets of kangaroo and Emu.
It didn’t work. The women, although desperate for comfort in this new hell, couldn’t bring themselves to be seduced by the highly unattractive and chronically filthy Governor Gabba.
His 6 consecutive attempts at landing a partner all failed.
Forever more, when his soldiers were playing beach cricket at Bondi, six consecutive attempts to score and fail was labelled the ‘Curse of the Maidens’, or later, simply a ‘maiden’.
Do you have any other terms that we should know the history of? Please leave the details in the comments section below.
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