Beginner's guide to must-know cricket terms amid T20 World Cup fever

To spare cricket fans from having to explain to the less fortunate the most basic cricketing terms

By Shashi Tharoor

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Published: Thu 20 Oct 2022, 8:05 PM

Last updated: Sat 22 Oct 2022, 8:08 AM

As every cricket fan — and I am notoriously one — knows, the T20 World Cup is currently under way in Australia. Since so many television sets are going to be tuned to the goings on Down Under, obliging even the uninitiated to hear endless (and to them incomprehensible) chatter about “bowling a maiden over” and “fielding at silly point”, and to spare cricket fans from having to explain to the less fortunate the most basic cricketing terms, here’s Part One of a quick glossary of the words the unenlightened need to know.

Of course, one assumes the very basic doesn’t need explaining: that there are eleven players a side; there are two sets of three “stumps”, also called “wickets”, stuck into the ground at opposite ends of a 5-foot wide, 22-yard “pitch”; the bowling side delivers 20 “overs” of six balls each aiming to strike the stumps; the batsmen defend their wickets and in turn try to score “runs” by running between the wickets or hitting the ball to the “boundary”; and there are multiple ways a batsman can be dismissed in the process. Now here goes:

APPEAL: When a bowler or fielder (usually the wicket-keeper) shouts towards the umpire (usually “Howzzat?”) because he thinks he has got a batsman out.

AROUND-THE-WICKET: When a bowler bowls with the wicket on the other side of the body to the bowling arm. (If the bowling arm is nearer the stumps, he is bowling OVER THE WICKET).

BAILS: The two small pieces of wood which sit on top of the stumps and need to be dislodged from their grooves for a batsman to be dismissed bowled, stumped or run out.

BEAMER: When a fast bowler bowls a ball to a batsman that reaches him without bouncing on the pitch first, going directly towards his body or head and could injure him. A beamer is usually declared a no-ball, and two in the same over could result in the bowler being barred from continuing to bowl.

BOUNDARY: The markings, usually a rope — or these days a string of advertisements — around the edge of the playing area. Once the ball touches or crosses the boundary, a “boundary” is scored — four if it has hit the ground on the way there, six if it goes over the boundary without touching the ground first.

DOLLY: A very easy catch for a fielder.

FIRST CHANGE: The bowler who comes on to replace either of the bowlers who delivered the first and second over of the innings.

GOLDEN DUCK: When a batsman is out on the first ball without scoring. (A DUCK is a score of zero.)

LBW: “Leg before wicket” is when a batsman’s leg or other body part stops the ball from hitting his stumps, he is given out LBW.

MAIDEN: When a bowler delivers an entire over without the batsman managing to score a single run off it.

ROUGH: A worn section of the pitch, usually just in front and to the side of the stumps, often caused by the spikes of the bowlers and sometimes the batsmen standing or running on it. A rough can be exploited by the bowlers pitching the ball on it and getting it to move unpredictably.

SEAM: The stitching around the middle of a cricket ball. But SEAM BOWLING is fast or medium-fast bowling that usually involves the skill of moving the bowl in the air after it has struck the pitch.

SILLY: If this word precedes a fielding position (like “silly point”, “silly mid-on” etc.) it means it is dangerously close to the batsman and the fielder could get hurt fielding there.

SLOWER BALL: When a fast bowler surprises the batsman by deliberately bowling at a speed lower than those of his usual deliveries; the batsman often completes his stroke too early because he expects a faster delivery. The slower ball seeks to prompt an error on the part of the batsman.

YORKER: A delivery that is intended to pitch directly underneath a batsman’s bat or on his toes and go on to hit the wicket.

And this ends our innings for the week. We’ll be back with more essential cricketing terms next week.

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