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August 5, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Hoopin’ and Hollerin’ – Talking About Cricket

In the last edition of Hoopin’ and Hollerin’ as Carlo talked to you about the beauty of cricket, he managed to neatly skip over the other side of the story: that cricket is an almost unfathomably absurd, spectacularly peculiar sport.

Let’s begin: seldom is a single sporting contest drawn out over five days, or a draw celebrated. Waiting for rain or for the sun to go down are usually activities for farmers, or those in rest homes awaiting the inevitable. Cricket manages to make them tactics. Cricket is a proud staple of Her Majesty’s empire as much as the humble cup of tea, and had been used by the Empire to placate colonial territories. The so-called gentleman’s game was believed to have a ‘civilising effect’ on subjects of the British Realm, and it’s not hard to see why: cricket remains—to the best of my knowledge—the only professional sport in the world where regular breaks are taken from play specifically for tea.

Of all its foibles, the most peculiar has to be the language of cricket. Much of the excitement of sport at large is caught up in the heat of the moment; the adrenaline rush of human competition and the thrill of winning. One of the beauties of cricket is that this can be drawn out over a working week, or a whole day, or condensed into a few hours. One of the downsides of this is that cricketers have a long time to sit around naming things.

Wikipedia’s neatly alphabetised ‘Glossary of cricket terms’ takes over 17,000 words to explain the language of the sport. I don’t know exactly how many individual definitions are provided—I stopped counting in the ‘D’ section when I reached number 128, ‘doosra’ (the finger-spin equivalent of the ‘googly’, for those of you unacquainted). What a googly is, is an entirely different matter altogether.

Reading through the glossary ultimately leaves you with more questions than answers. What’s a duck worth? Who was Duckworth? Can a dibbly dobbly be a dipper, too? Are all dippers flippers, or only some, or none? What I can say with certainty is that an agricultural shot has nothing to do with gardening the crease, and silly mids can be on or off. A run is not contingent on whether you have a short leg or a long leg or even a fine leg. Two half-yorkers don’t make a yorker, hoiks and hooks should not be confused (so long as you don’t nibble at them, I think you’re okay), and you definitely shouldn’t take a nibble at peach. I still haven’t been able to work out whether the sticky dog or the sticky wicket came first. As for toe-crushers, jaffas, trundlers, wags, pie chuckers, worms, mullygrubbers, featherbeds, slog sweeps, tickles, trimmers, wafts, yips, and zooters: your guess is as good as mine.


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