A Guide To Cricket Slang

Cricket slang is another language, even to regular players and viewers. What’s a dolly? Where’s the Cow Corner? And why is the dog from Neighbours being mentioned?

There are so many obscure terms associated with cricket, it can be difficult to keep up sometimes. Fear not, though – here’s our guide to cricket slang, to help you stay on the ball.

Baggy Green

cricket slang

This is the term used for the dark green cap worn by the Australian cricket team. The baggy green has been worn by the Australian national team since the early 1900s and is a symbol of national pride.

Beamer

A beamer is a delivery that passes above the batsman’s waist before it hits the ground. This is considered a very dangerous delivery.

It reduces the bowler’s amount of control and often results in the batsman being struck by the ball. As such, it’s illegal in a game of cricket, and can result in a no-ball being called.

If a bowler delivers a beamer twice, they can be barred from bowling for the rest of the game. So, if you’re a bowler, avoid this at all costs.

Bouncer (chin music)

Originally a baseball slang term, chin music refers to a bowling strategy whereby bouncers target the batsman’s chin or throat.

The balls rise with significant speed from the pitch, so are tough to hit and arguably harder to bowl.

A bouncer isn’t technically illegal, but if you deliver too many you could get a warning from the umpire.

(In case you didn’t get the Neighbours reference above, the dog in this sitcom is called Bouncer.)

Castled/Skittled

To ‘skittle out’ is to dismiss a batsman very quickly. Castled is generally used when the batsman is beaten by a Yorker (see below).

Cow Corner

This is the area of the field where the batsman is least likely to hit the ball.

The Cow Corner’s location depends on if the batsman is left or right-handed. However, it’s generally the deep part of the field on the batsman’s leg side.

Because batsmen rarely hit the ball into this area, fielders often avoid the area and utilise other spaces.

Hence the term – an area of the field so deserted and undisturbed, that cows could graze there happily.

Dolly

In cricket slang terms, dolly is basically a very easy catch. For example, if the batsman only glances the ball with the side of his bat and it pops into the air, this is a dolly if the fielder only moves slightly to make the catch.

The term was most famously used in 1993, when England’s Mike Gatting dropped a dolly during a match against India.

Duck/Golden Duck

A ‘duck’ is perhaps the best-known cricket slang term. This refers to when a batsman is dismissed without scoring. A ‘golden duck’ is when they are dismissed by the first ball.

Jaffa

This is an unplayable delivery to a batsman that doesn’t even need to get them out.

LBW

LBW (leg before wicket) is a means of dismissing a batsman. This is used as a means of dismissal when the umpire believes a batsman’s body part (usually the leg) has impeded the path of the ball, when it was clearly going to hit the wicket.

Leg spin

Sometimes referred to as a leggie, a leg spin is a form of spin bowling. A bowler must bowl with their right arm whilst creating a spin action with their wrist to achieve a leg spin. This causes the ball to spin from left to right, away from the leg of a right-handed batsman.

Well-known masters of this technique include Bernard Bosanquet (who is credited with inventing the googly) and Shane Warne.

On side / off side

On and off side refer to the two halves of the pitch.

The off side is the half of the pitch in front of the batsman’s body. For a right-handed batsman, this is the right half of the pitch, and vice versa for a left-handed batter.

On side is the half of the pitch behind the batsman when they’re making a swing.

Slower ball

A slower ball is generally delivered by a fast bowler, ironically enough. The reason it’s called a slower ball is because it’s delivered with medium pace, which can deceive the batsman and make them hit the ball too early. When this happens, it gives the fielders the chance to get under the high ball for an easy out.

Swing / reverse swing

Swing bowling is a common form of delivery among fast bowlers.

Fielders will polish just one side of the ball so that it’s worn on one side and shiny on the other. This enables them to swing effectively, as the air will travel faster over the shiny side than the worn side. Therefore, the ball will curve in the air.

Reverse swing is a lot more complicated. Basically, it’s the act of making the ball curve opposite to the way it would with swing bowling.

There are many theories about how this is achieved, but generally it’s through atmospheric conditions and bowling with an older ball. This method was invented by Sarfaraz Nawaz, the fast bowling Pakistan international.

Tail ender

The last batsmen in a team, usually the bowlers (numbers 8-11), are referred to as the tail. This is because the more skilled batsmen have been and gone. Therefore, a tail ender is one of these players, specifically numbers 10 and 11. 

Toe-crushers

A toe-crushers is another term for a yorker (see below). It describes an inswinging yorker and was commonly used by commentators in the 1990s to describe the bowling from Pakistan’s Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram (see Swing / Reverse Swing).

Yorker

This term is used when the ball hits the cricket pitch near the batsman’s feet during the bowler’s delivery.

Yorkers are notoriously difficult for batsmen to deal with. If a batsman adopts a normal stance during the delivery, they may raise the bat too high when the ball lands on the pitch.

However, if they spot a yorker in time, they will jam their bat down in the ground in a defensive stance to deal with the delivery.

It’s still debated today where this term originally came from. Some people say the term originated from Yorkshire, while others suggest it derived from the term “to pull Yorkshire”. This slang term was used in the 18th century which meant you were deceiving someone.

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