16 cricket terms you must know

Shashi Tharoor's World of Words is a weekly column in which the politician, diplomat, writer and wordsmith par excellence dissects words and language

By Shashi Tharoor

Published: Thu 27 Oct 2022, 10:04 PM

In T20 matches, each side has only one go at bat, or “innings”. But this week we’ll have a second innings of cricket terminology for the uninitiated!

ALL-ROUNDER: A batsman who is capable of both batting and bowling well enough to be picked for either skill.

BALL-TAMPERING: Illegally altering the condition of the ball; this is sometimes done by the fielding side scratching one side of the ball to get it to swing more. It’s against the rules since such a premature alteration in the ball gives the bowling side an unfair advantage.

BEATEN: When a batsman attempts to play but misses the ball, he is said to have been ‘beaten’ by the bowler’s skilful delivery. It doesn’t mean he’s out or has lost the match; a batsman can be beaten several times, survive, and then go on to make a good score.

CHINAMAN: A left-handed spin bowler’s leg-break delivery. Normally, a left-arm spinner turns the ball from leg to off, but a Chinaman turns the other way. It’s a left-arm spinner’s GOOGLY.

CALL: A shout during playing action. It could be a batsman communicating to a batting partner whether to run, usually by shouting “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. It could be a fielder shouting “mine!” to alert other fielders that he is going to attempt a catch; failure to do so could result in a collision between converging fielders. When an on-field disaster occurs, commentators usually shout out despairingly, “call!”

DOOSRA: When a right-handed off-spinner bowls a delivery that turns the “other way”, from off to leg side; the mirror image of a CHINAMAN.

DRS: Decision Review System. Introduced just a few years ago, this allows the players to challenge an umpiring decision, which is then reviewed using television replays and technology to establish whether the ball struck the bat, whether a catch was taken cleanly, or whether the predictive pattern of the delivery (“ball tracking”) suggests that it would have struck the stumps. In T20 matches, each team is allowed only two unsuccessful reviews.

EDGE, SNICK, NICK: When the ball touches the edge of a batsman’s bat and travels behind the stumps — sometimes to the boundary, sometimes to be caught by the wicket-keeper or the slips, sometimes to be dropped.

EXTRAS: Runs added to a team’s total but not scored off the bat. These include runs credited for byes (balls missed by the batsman but not collected by the wicket-keeper), leg-byes (ditto but going off the batsman’s pads), no-ball (usually when the bowler oversteps), and wides (deliveries beyond a batsman’s reach).

GOOGLY: When a leg-spinner bowls to a right-arm batsman, the ball normally spins from leg or middle to the off side, but a googly spins from off to leg to deceive the batsman.

REVERSE SWEEP: A shot employed by a batsman by reversing his stance from left-handed to right-handed or vice versa. The fielding side sets its fielders in anticipation of his normal stance; a reverse sweep permits the batsman to exploit gaps on the other side of the field.

RUN-OUT: When a batsman running for a run fails to reach the crease before a fielder throws the ball and breaks the stumps, he is “run out”.

SHOOTER: A ball that does not rise off the ground after pitching and usually “shoots” under the bat to strike the stumps or the legs. Such deliveries, resulting from the vagaries of the pitch, are usually unplayable.

TAIL: A batting side’s later batsmen, who are playing for their bowling rather than batting skills, usually bat towards the end of the innings and are called “the tail”. A team with several players of limited batting ability is said to have a “long tail”.

TWELFTH MAN: An emergency fielder brought on to substitute for a regular player in the eleven who has gone off the field for any reason. A twelfth man can stop the ball, take catches and effect run-outs, but cannot bowl.

And finally for this week, ALL OUT: When a batting side has lost ten wickets and there’s no one left to bat, the team is ‘all-out’, and its innings is over. In T20 cricket, the innings is over in any case when 20 overs are bowled, whether or not the team is “all out”. But we are all out of essential cricket terms for this column!.


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