HomeCricketThe Ultimate Guide to Cricket Slang: Terms Every Fan Should Know

The Ultimate Guide to Cricket Slang: Terms Every Fan Should Know

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the names of two professional footballers that most Americans would immediately recognize. With more than 200 million followers, the NFL is one of America’s most followed sports.

Believe it or not, in global terms, the NFL doesn’t even crack the top ten in terms of most popular sports around the world. The humble game of cricket, with an estimated 2.5 billion fans from across the globe, ranks as #2 overall – and for the first time, an international tournament is set to host games in the U.S. this June.

If you can’t tell the difference between a diamond duck and a bouncer, don’t worry, you don’t need a Master of Sports Journalism to decipher the mysteries of cricket slang. Here are some of the key cricket slang you should know, so the next time you’re watching the world’s most beloved red ball sport on television, you can understand what’s happening!

What on Earth is Cricket?

If you’ve never experienced cricket, it can sometimes be difficult to understand just what’s going on. Keeping it very simple a cricket game goes like so:

Each team has eleven players – these consist of a range of batters, bowlers, and a wicketkeeper. Taking turns, each team plays an innings – similar to a baseball inning, the goal, however, is to score as many runs as possible, before losing all of your team’s wickets.

As the batting team tries to rack up the runs (get a large score), the objective of the fielding team is simple – get the batting team’s wickets, by knocking the bails off the wicket (bowled out), catching the cricket ball mid-air (caught out), or through another method, like stumping or LBW (leg before wicket). There are ten different ways that you can get a batsman out.

Still confused? That’s OK – fortunately, the English and Wales Cricket Board has a really handy guide that goes into cricket in a little more detail.

From Bumper to Hat Trick – Bowling Slang

Bowlers have a range of tricks available to them – using a range of physical movements, they can change the way the ball reacts to the physical environment around them. Typically, bowlers specialize in a single type of bowling – whether that be fast bowling, medium-pace, or spin.

Fast bowling can be challenging to face as a batsman – with the bowlers having one objective, and one objective only – hit a ball hard enough that it takes out an opponent’s stumps, or deflects in such a way that the wicketkeeper or fielders can catch the ball without it hitting the ground.

It would seem a bit silly to bowl the same type of ball, the same way, every shot – if that were the case, a batsman may as well be facing a ball machine. Instead, bowlers try different sorts of variations, to make it difficult to hit a ball.

For example, a bowler may try to play a bouncer or a bumper – a ball that leaps up as high as the batsman’s shoulder or head. These are often used as an intimidation tactic by experienced bowlers.

A bowler that can spin bowl may make rapid adjustments to the way they grip the ball using their wrist and fingers to cause the ball to spin – where a ball rapidly changes direction when striking the pitch (contrary to the standard bounce and continue straight forward).

The objective of a bowler is simple – get the batsman out for as few runs as possible. If you get them out for a duck (zero runs), even better! A truly skilled bowler may be able to get three batsmen out in consecutive deliveries, known as a hat-trick – an incredibly difficult feat to pull off, but highly regarded if you can do it.

Common Cricket Slang

Batting Slang – From Slogs to Sweeps

It may seem like a simple task for a bowler – hit the ball with the bat, as hard as possible, to get some runs on the board. The reality is, with the wide range of bowling varieties present, it can become very difficult to get a score on the board, so to speak.

A great batsman will have a wide array of different shots in his arsenal – much like Hawkeye and his bag of trick arrows, a good batsman will have an option available for a range of situations.

For example, a batsman under pressure might find themselves under pressure, and try to slog the ball – trying a somewhat reckless shot that aims to hit the ball over the boundary for four runs.

Some batsmen specialize in unique batting movements. While a slog might be OK once in a while, a good bowler will catch on and try different variations to try and get the batsman out. They may even have to come up against bowlers with different skill sets, such as spinners.

In this case, a move like a sweep may be used – where a batsman tries to sweep the ball aside the stumps, allowing the ball to carry some momentum and roll through to a boundary. While sweep shots are somewhat more common today, they’re often criticized by purists as being unfair and against the spirit of the game.

Ultimately, batters aspire to hit a half-ton, or a ton of runs – 50 or 100 runs respectively. For cricketers that outperform, there is rarefied air – Brian Lara, a legendary West Indian test cricketer, once scored 400 runs in a single innings – a record that has remained unbeaten in the twenty years since it was set.

But That’s Not All!

There are a million other pieces of slang that I could write about, but by the time we finish, you’d miss the next innings. Cricket is beautiful in the way that it can bring people together – even if the words and meanings can sometimes be a bit tricky.

So go on, get out there – give the ball a slog. And look, even if you’re not hitting boundaries on your maiden innings – keep going! You never know what you might achieve.

Times of Sports
Times of Sports
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