Reading Between the Wickets

Posted by sepoy on October 11, 2006 · 11 mins read

My friend Gerry emailed:

"Every so often I like to read up on what's happening in the world of cricket. And, every so often, I'm struck by how impenetrable cricket lingo is to the uninitiated." He then linked to this news post at BBC: Windies Destroy Tigers to qualify, with a quote: "Marlon Samuels missed a straightforward chance at deep backward square-leg off Jerome Taylor and the talented 20-year-old recovered to heave Taylor down to fine-leg and clip Ian Bradshaw off his pads for sixes as he raced to his seventh ODI fifty off only 40 balls. And commented further, "I get some of this, but by no means all. Is baseball this hard to decipher?"

Now, normally, I would link to Patience Propels Tigers and ask him to explain:

The first 12 Detroit batters took the first pitch until Magglio Ordonez hit a bases-loaded infield single off the glove of third baseman Eric Chavez. Ordonez's hit came during a two-run third in which the Tigers made Zito throw 38 pitches and raise his pitch count to 69.

The Tigers were extremely effective in forcing Zito to throw his knee-buckling curve for strikes, Placido Polanco laid off a curve near the outside corner for a walk, and Sean Casey took the next two pitches before working Zito for another walk that preceded Ordonez's RBI single.

But. This is the new and improved CM. The helpful CM. So, gentle readers, what follows is a decoding of the BBC article for those interested in penetrating the dense fog of cricket jargon - with some helpful commentary.

First thing first. The Tigers are _not_ the Detroit Tigers - because last I checked there were no Tigers in Detroit; or jungles; or trees; or inhabitants. The Tigers are the Bangladesh Tigers - which does have Tigers [Bengal Tigers, no less.]. Ok. Similarly, the Windies are not a team afflicted with severe gastrointestinal distress. Or yatchsmen with claims on gods. They are the collective cricket team of the West Indies Islands. They used to be pretty good; and are middling now [think Atlanta Braves - pitching analogy is strongest]. The Tigers suck. The two teams are playing in a tournament called Champion's Trophy. We don't really care about it.

The confounding report:

Chris Gayle's century helped West Indies crush Bangladesh by 10 wickets to send themselves and Sri Lanka into the main Champions Trophy group stage. Any time you see 10 wickets, that means one team whupped the other so bad that there is no dignity left in defeat. None. Might as well just start playing baseball.

Dwayne Bravo (3-14) helped dismiss the Tigers for 161 after Aftab Ahmed (59) put on 85 with Shahriar Nafees (38). The braket '(3-14)' tells us that Mr. Bravo is a bowler [pitcher] who claimed the fur of three tigers for just 14 runs. While the bracket after Mr. Ahmed '(59)' that he is a batsmen who scored 59. Lesson: Dashes go to the bowler. Other lesson: Dwayne Bravo is the coolest name, ever.

Gayle (104) smashed three sixes and Shivnarine Chanderpaul hit 52 as the Windies won with 13.3 overs to spare. A 'six' is a home-run in cricket. More like a grandslam plus 2 runs, actually. Three 'smashed' in an inning is quite good. In cricket lingo, one always SMASHES the six. Also fours. One cannot smash a single. One would look very foolish.

The losers of their game with Sri Lanka will join England in Group A, while Bangladesh finish by playing Zimbabwe. They had put up a fight against Sri Lanka in the first game but were soundly beaten by the holders after failing to make the most of good batting conditions.This cements our impression from the 10-wicket info - that the Tigers are not having a good day. The 'holders' is Windies - the title holders. Don't bother.

It looked promising enough when Aftab made light of Mohammad Ashraful's early dismissal by launching a succession of crunching drives and pulls. Besides smashing, we cricket folks also crunch our drives and pulls. A drive and a pull are fancy ways of saying, the dude hit the little ball with the big paddle, while making some crunching noises.

Marlon Samuels missed a straightforward chance at deep backward square-leg off Jerome Taylor and the talented 20-year-old recovered to heave Taylor down to fine-leg and clip Ian Bradshaw off his pads for sixes as he raced to his seventh ODI fifty off only 40 balls. Oh boy. The 'straightforward chance' is an easy catch according to our nameless beat-reporter. Basically Mr. Samuels had an error in fielding. Where was Mr. Samuels standing when he dropped the ball? At 'deep backward square-leg'. If you find yourself standing at deep backward square-leg, know that you are the least interesting part of the game. Unless you drop a straightforward chance. Then, you also suck. Also, the square-leg is the distance equal to the square root of the combined length of the two legs of the batsmen. The measurement is taken before the game starts by an international referee. And I am talking about in-seam measurement. IF you know what I mean. Those kinky brits. Some of these legs are also classified 'fine' - which while a subjective category is highly coveted. Another thing to note is that sometimes our 'sixes' are not smashed; they are 'heaved'.

His confidence was starting to transfer to Nafees when the latter cut Samuels straight to Gayle at slip and, from 95-1, the innings declined alarmingly. Cricket is very concerned with confidence. How much does one have? How will it be measured? etc. 'Slip' is an interesting fielding position. Mostly because if you are standing there and you let an incoming catch 'slip' through your fingers, than you are shite. So, why did they call the position 'Slip'? Is that challenging fate? God? Thats like N. Korea labeling their nuclear program FAIL.

Saqibul Hasan drove loosely at Corey Collymore and got an inside edge on to his stumps, while Habibul Bashar - who lasted two balls against Sri Lanka - went for a golden duck when trapped leg-before next ball. 'Stumps' are the left-over bits after the fine leg of a golden, roasted duck is consumed. Oh, I forgot you have to trap the duck before you get to consume it. That usually takes 2 or less balls.

Aftab holed out to long-on, Farhad Reza played on to Bravo after being dropped by keeper Carlton Baugh and Mohammad Rafique was lbw sweeping at Gayle to complete a spell of six wickets for 16 in 40 deliveries. I have to say. These Windies don't really know how to catch a ball, do they? Anyways. 'LBW' stands for 'leg before wicket'. Cricket is a game of legs. Who has the nicest one. Where to put one's legs. It is, simply, all about the legs. Know that.

Khaled Mashud - only the third man to make it into double figures - helped boost the total beyond 150 but despite an encouraging spell from Mashrafe Mortaza it was never likely to prove taxing. Gayle, struggling to shake off the effects of a viral infection which had laid low Fidel Edwards and Dwayne Smith, started off cautiously before launching an array of blistering strokes. Why was Mr. Gayle sick? Will we ever know? In any case, the 'spell' you keep seeing, refers to the bowler and his pitching of the balls. He casts a spell. Or he hopes to. Mostly, he gets his balls scattered around the ground due to some blistering strokes. Smash. Crunch. Heave. Blister. Know these adjectives.

He crashed Mortaza past point and punched Syed Rasel down the ground with some authority before launching an emphatic cover drive off Abdur Razzak. Whoa. Crashed. Punched. Hulk Smash. Army Strong.

Chanderpaul also mixed caution with authoritative shots, a cover drive off Rasel and blistering cut when Mortaza dropped short among the highlights as he ground out a half century off 97 balls. Another meme in cricket, alongside 'confidence', is 'authoritative'. People do things _ with authority_.

Gayle should have been on his way for 33 when he feathered Razzaq to wicket-keeper Mashud and made the most of that reprieve to hurry his team to victory. 'Feathered' means the balls kissed-oh-so-lightly- the bat on its way to the keeper. However, on account of being blind, the umpire was unable to see this and declare Mr. Gayle out.

Reza's one over went for four fours while two of the three maximums, off Mohammad Rafique and Aftab, landed on the roof straight down a big ground. There was just enough time for Gayle to complete his 13th ODI century off 116 balls before victory was sealed. 'maximums' would be the 'sixes' we already met - the maximum a batsman can score on one shot being 6 runs. By hitting the ball out of the boundary.

So. There you have it, gentle readers. Legs. Ducks. Smashing. Your cricket, demystified.


Early Modern Notes Demystified | October 11, 2006

[...] Sepoy, er, ‘demystifies‘ a cricket match. Posted by Sharon on 11 October 2006 at 9:32 pm in [...]

aa | October 11, 2006

so sad. why couldn't desis in their never-ending quest to be british have chosen a real sport to obsess over? imagine if the subcontinent was soccer crazy - it might be a respectable place today. i mean, come on, cricket "athletes" wear sweaters and take breaks for tea. it's quite embarassing.

Jonathan Dresner | October 11, 2006

Bravo. Dwayne Bravo.

Brett | October 12, 2006

This is a great start, but there are so many cricketing terms that need to be explained to the benighted souls outside the Commonwealth: the leg glance, the silly mid-on (and -off), and the full toss, for example. Hopefully you won't avoid the follow-on!

Stickiewicket | January 23, 2007

For West Indies Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle are great players. In the recent One day match against India Chanderpaul hit a brilliant century. West Indies lost the match but came close to the winning total.

Another Damned Medievalist | March 25, 2011

Even though I understood the report, I loved the commentary as well. And yes on Dwayne Bravo.

Sin | March 25, 2011

If this doesn't become a regular feature, I will be severely disappointed. I've never enjoyed cricket more.

sepoy | March 25, 2011

@Sin: Considering that this post dates from 2006 and no follow-up happened, the chances for getting this as "regular feature" is slim. HOWEVER, nice to see Sin back commenting here from 2004.