A glossary of cricketing terms

Cricket, probably more than any other sport, is full of jargon, terms and expressions. In an attempt to unravel some of the stranger terminology, we have put together a cricket glossary.


Agricultural shot
A swing across the line of the ball (resembling a scything motion) played without much technique.

Arm Ball
A ball bowled by a slow bowler which has no spin on it and does not turn as expected and stays on a straight line (‘goes on with the arm’)

Around the Wicket or Round the Wicket
A right-handed bowler passing to the right of the stumps during his bowling action, and vice-versa for left-handed bowlers.

The Ashes
Series between England and Australia are played for The Ashes

Asking rate

The rate at which the team batting needs to score to catch the opponents score in a limited overs game

Attacking field
A fielding configuration in which more fielders are close in to the pitch to try to take catches and dismiss the batsmen, at the risk of letting more runs get scored should the ball get past them.


Backing Up
1. Batting: The non-striking batsman leaving his crease during the delivery in order to shorten the distance to complete one run. A batsman ‘backing up’ too far runs the risk of being run out, either by a fielder in a conventional run out, or – in a ‘Mankad’ – by the bowler themself.
2. Fielding: After a fielder chases the ball, another fielder placed at a further distance also moves into position so that if the fielder mis-fields the ball, the damage done is minimal. Also done to support a fielder receiving a throw from the outfield in case the throw is errant or not caught.

Red for first-class and most club cricket, white for one-day matches. It weighs 5½ ounces (5 ounces for women’s cricket and 4¾ ounces for junior cricket)

Ball Tampering
The illegal action of changing the condition of the ball by artificial means, usually scuffing the surface, picking or lifting the seam of the ball, or applying substances other than sweat or saliva

A fielding position close to the batsman designed to catch balls which pop up off the bat, often via the batsman’s pads

Another word for batsman, first used as long ago as 1773

A ball that does not bounce and passes the batsman at or about head height

Bend your back
Term used to signify the extra effort put in by a fast bowler to obtain some assistance from a flat pitch

A pitch which offers little help to bowlers and favours the batsmen

A score of 0

A tactic most infamously used by England in 1932-33, although one which had been around for some time before that, in which the bowler aimed at the batsman rather than the wicket with the aim of making him give a catch while attempting to defend himself. The fielding side were packed on the leg side to take catches which resulted. Now illegal

A short-pitched ball which passes the batsman at chest or head height

The perimeter of a cricket field, or the act of the batsman scoring a four or six

Bowling Analysis
Refers to a notation summarising a bowler’s performance in terms of overs bowled, how many of those overs are maidens, total runs conceded and number of wickets taken. For example, 10-1-30-5 indicates that the bowler had bowled 10 overs, 1 maiden taking 5 wickets for a total cost of 30 runs. Often shortened to wickets taken for amount of runs eg. 5/45 or 5 for 45 (five wickets for 45 runs).

An abdominal protector worn by batsmen and wicketkeepers

Bump Ball
A ball which is played off the bat almost instantly into the ground and is caught by a fielder. Often this has the appearance of being a clean catch

Also known as Rabbit. A member of the side who cannot bat and is selected as a specialist bowler or wicketkeeper, and who almost always bats at No. 11

A run scored when the batsman does not touch the ball with either his bat or body. First recorded in the 1770s.


Carry your Bat
An opening batsman who remains Not Out at the end of a completed innings

Giving the When a batsman leaves his crease to attack the ball, usually against a slow bowler. By doing this he can convert a good-length ball into a half-volley

Used to describe a bowler who delivers the ball with his chest facing the batsman, as opposed to being side on

A ball bowled by a left-arm slow bowler that turns into the right-hand batsman, in effect a left-arm legspinner. Named after Puss Achong

Chin music
Fast bowlers aiming the ball at the batsman’s head. The term originated in the Caribbean

Another term for a bowler who throws the ball

Closing the Face
Turning the face of the bat inwards and, in doing so, hitting the ball to the leg side

Corridor of Uncertainty
Commentators’ term which describes an area just outside the batsman’s off stump where he is unsure whether he has to leave or play the ball

Cow Corner
An unconventional fielding position, more commonly found in the lower reaches of the game, on the midwicket/long-on boundary. The term is thought to have originated at Dulwich College where there was the corner of a field containing livestock on that edge of the playing area. Fielders were dispatched to the Cow Corner

Cross Bat
A cross-batted shot is where the batsman holds his bat horizontally when striking the ball. Examples of cross-batted shots include hooks, pulls and cuts


Dead ball
A ball from which no runs can be scored or wickets taken. First referred to in 1798

When the batting side ends their innings before all of their players are out

Dilscoop / Dilshan
A batting stroke developed by Sri Lankan batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan at the ICC World Twenty20 2009 in England. The stroke involves going on one knee to a good length or slightly short of length delivery off a fast or medium paced bowler and scoop the ball over the head of the wicket keeper and towards the boundary.

An easy catch

A Hindi/Urdu word which means ‘second’ or ‘other’, the Doosra is the offspinner’s version of the googly, delivered out of the back of the hand and turning away from the right-hand batsman

Drifter / Floater
A delivery bowled by an offspinner which curves away from a right-hander, and then carries straight on instead of turning

A score of 0

Duckworth Lewis
Named after Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis, two mathematicians who devised a system to help decide one-day cricket matches when rain interrupts play.


Economy Rate
The average number of runs a bowler concedes per over

Runs not scored by batsmen. There are four common extras – Byes, Leg-byes, Wides and No-balls.


A batsmen-friendly pitch with little life for the bowlers.

A variation for the legspinner that appears to be pitching short but the ball skids on quickly and often results in bowled or lbw. It is a delivery that is used sparingly

Full Toss
A ball that reaches the batsmen without bouncing. Above waist height it becomes a Beamer


The act of the batsman repairing indentations in the pitch, made by the ball or studs, with his bat.

Good length
The ideal length that the bowler aims for, getting the batsman in two minds as whether to play forwards or back

The legspinner’s variation that turns into the right-hander and away from the left-hander

A ball that hardly bounces – see also Shooter


Half Volley
A ball that is the perfect length for driving, fuller than a good length but not a Full-Toss

Handled the Ball
If the batsmen deliberately touches the ball with his hands he can be given out.

A tracking technology which helps to explain the intricacies of the sport, Hawk-Eye can be helpful in judging LBWs.

Heavy Ball
When a delivery is quicker than it looks and hits the bat harder or higher than is expected

Hit the Ball Twice
If a batsmen deliberately strikes the ball twice to gain runs he can be given out. However, the batsman can knock the ball away from his stumps with the bat

Hit the Deck
The bowler’s ability to deliver the ball from height and extract extra bounce from the pitch

Same as Slog, but most used for on-side shots


An inswinging delivery that moves into the batsman very late. Wasim Akram produced deadly versions with the older ball

Inside out, turning the batsman
A batsman aims to leg but the ball goes past the off and he is forced to play the ball open-chested

Inside-out shot
A stroke where the batsman moves towards the leg side and hits a ball around leg stump into the off side


A delivery that is too good for the batsman, and leaves him groping hopelessly at thin air or dismisses him


King pair
Out first ball for zero in both innings


Leading edge
When the batsman mis-hits the ball and edges it forward in the opposite direction to which he was attempting to play

When the ball deflects off the pad and the batsmen run. A shot must be offered to the ball. Leg-byes do not count against the bowler

When the ball pitches and turns from leg to off for a right-hander

A ball which cuts and moves away from the batsman towards the offside (if he is a righthander)

The area of the pitch behind the batsman’s legs

Leg theory
See Bodyline

Where the ball pitches down the wicket. Lengths can be generally short, full or good

A ball that rises unexpectedly

The line of attack the bowler employs when he is bowling

A really easy ball to hit – a ‘gift’

Long hop
A ball which pitches short, sits up and ‘begs’ to be hit

The flight of the ball


An over where no runs that are attributable to the bowler are scored (byes or leg-byes may be scored in this over, though, as these don’t count against the bowler)

Running-out of a non-striking batsman who leaves his crease before the bowler has released the ball. It is named after Vinoo Mankad, an Indian bowler, who controversially used this method in a Test match. This is relatively common in indoor cricket and is noted separately from run outs, though almost unheard of in first-class cricket.

The Marylebone Cricket Club, the spiritual home of cricket at Lord’s in St Johns Wood in London. For the greater period of cricket’s formal history, the MCC which was founded in 1787, was the autocratic arbiter in cricket matters. No law could be changed without its approval. The administration of the game world-wide has moved to the International Cricket Council, and to the England and Wales Cricket Board in Britain, the MCC is still regarded as the ultimate defender of the laws of the game, a type of Privy Council of cricket.

To hit the ball from the meat of the bat, ‘to middle it’ is to connect really well. Middle is also the centre of the field, where the bulk of the action takes place

Military Medium
A slightly derogative term for a bowler who has no real pace


A difficult batting track. The pitch is in such a state of disrepair that it is almost impossible to play “proper” shots as the ball is popping up everywhere


The English superstition that 111 and its multiples are unlucky. The sticks resemble 111, and is loosely connected with Lord Nelson’s physical attributes. Double Nelson is 222

Nervous Nineties
The psychological pressure on the batsman knowing he is approaching a century

New Ball
Can usually be taken every 80 overs. The advantage is to quick bowlers who have a shiny and bouncy ball, but conversely it can result in an increase in scoring rate as the ball comes off the bat faster

A faint edge off the bat
Nightwatchman A non-batsman promoted up the order towards the end of a day’s play with the idea of shielding a recognised batsman in the final overs

An illegitimate delivery, usually when the bowler has overstepped on the front crease

The batsman nudging the ball around and into gaps


When the batsman wilfully blocks or distracts a fielder to prevent a catch being made or a run-out being effected

Occupy the Crease
When a batsman stays at the wicket but scores slowly, often with the intention of playing out for a draw

A ball turning into the right hander- from off to leg (from left to right)

An offbreak delivered at speed

Off the Mark
When the batsman scores his first run

The side of the pitch which is to batsman’s right (if right-handed), or left (if left-handed)

The same as the leg-side

On the Up
Making contact with the ball before it reaches the top of the bounce – hitting it on the rise. Viv Richards was a prominent exponent

There are ten possible ways of being out: Bowled, Caught, Hit Wicket, LBW, Stumped, Timed Out, Handled the Ball, Obstruction, Hit the Ball Twice, and Run Out. To be out ‘Retired Out’ is gaining in currency and popularity and counts as a dismissal, unlike ‘Retired Hurt’

Outside Edge
When the ball hits the edge of the bat which is furthest away from his body

When the ball swings away from the batsman and towards the slips


A sweep shot

When a batsman gets a duck in both innings

Lower-order batsmen promoted in the line-up to try and hit up a few quick runs. Used mostly when a team is chasing a huge total in a one-dayer – the thinking being that a few quick runs will reduce the asking rate; and if the pinch-hitter gets out, the specialist batsmen are still around

The bounce of the ball – ‘it pitches on a good length’. Also, the cut strip in the centre of the field of play

Play On
When a batsman hits the ball but it goes on to hit the stumps and he is bowled

When the batsman is clearly LBW, even at full speed, he is said to be plumb in front.


A slow, stodgy pitch which will be difficult to score quickly on


a back-foot leg-side shot, distinct from the hook because the pull is played to a ball that hasn’t risen as high.


See Bunny

Return Crease
Parallel white lines pointing down the pitch, either side of the stumps. A bowler’s back foot must land inside this area or else a no-ball will be called.

To postpone or end one’s innings, either voluntarily through boredom when you’re simply too good for the opposition, or involuntarily and in agony, when a nasty fast bowler has taken his pound of flesh

Reverse Sweep
The epitome of the type of shot you will not find in the MCC coaching manual. This stroke is played by dropping to one knee and reversing one’s hands, so that you can swing the ball from leg to off, rather than the more natural off to leg. It is a handy stroke for beating conventional fields in a one-day game, but it has its drawbacks as well

Reverse Swing
When the ball is 50 overs old and the pitch is as flat as a pancake, this phenomenon is often a bowling side’s saving grace. First mastered by the Pakistani quicks of the 1980s and 1990s, it involves sideways movement of the ball through the air that is contrary to your average everyday laws of physics. If it sounds like rocket science, that is because it is

Big turn for a spin bowler, especially a legspinner, who can use the whole action of the wrist to impart maximum revolutions on the ball. Shane Warne, consequently, bowls a lot of ‘rippers’

Ring Field
A standard fielding arrangement, with men positioned in a circle all around the bat saving the single

Colloquial term for cricket ball

To flatten the playing surface with a heavy rolling device. At the end of an innings, the side about to start their innings will be offered the choice of a heavy or light roller

A heavy rolling device designed to flatten the surface of the pitch

Used to mark the perimeter of the field. If the ball crosses or hits the rope, a boundary will be signalled

The area of a pitch that is scuffed up and loosened by the action of a bowler running through in his follow-through. Usually, this will be situated a foot or so outside leg stump, and consequently it becomes a tasty target for spin bowlers, who can exploit the extra turn to make life a misery for the batsmen

Generally the fourth innings of a first-class or Test match, and the latter stages of a one-day game, when the match situation has been reduced to a set figure for victory, in a set time or maximum number of overs

Of particular importance in a one-day game, this is the average number of runs scored per over, and is used as a guide to a team’s progress (see Duckworth Lewis)

The preparatory strides taken by a bowler as they steady themselves for delivery. Also the area in which they perform said action

A player who is called upon by a batsman who might otherwise need to retire hurt. He is required to wear the same padding and stands at square leg or the non-striker’s end to perform the duty of running between the wickets. Often the cause of endless confusion and inevitable run-outs


Sandshoe crusher
Colloquial term for Yorker, a full-pitched delivery that is aimed at the batsman’s toes and usually hits them as well

The ridge of stitching that holds the two halves of a ball together, and causes deviation off the pitch when the ball lands. Seam bowlers, as opposed to swing bowlers, rely on movement off the pitch, rather than through the air

Shoulder arms
The description of when a batsman decides that rather than risk being dismissed from a ball he lifts the bat high above his shoulder to attempt to keep his bat and hands out of harm’s way

A flat, lifeless, soul-destroying wicket that is beloved of batsmen the world over, and loathed by bowlers of all varieties. For a prime example, see the Antigua Recreation Ground

See grubber

Side on
A side on bowler has back foot, chest and hips aligned towards the batsman at the instant of back foot contact or a batsman is side on if his hips and shoulders are facing at ninety degrees to the bowler.

The easiest, most innocuous and undroppable catch that a fielder can ever receive. To drop one of these is to invite a whole world of pain from the crowd and constant embarrassment from the giant replay screen (see dolly).

Act of verbally abusing or unsettling a batsman, in an attempt to make him lose concentration and give his wicket away. Often offensive, occasionally amusing, always a topic of conversation

Used to describe a shot which is not in the coaching book

Exponent of the slog

A heave to the leg side, played like the sweep, but a lofted shot

Slower ball

Deliver a ball at a significantly reduced pace, while at the same time turning your arm over at the same speed so as to deceive the batsman. This change of pace can be achieved by a change of grip, or a late tweak of the wrist.

Standing Back / Standing Up
Where a wicketkeeper positions himself for a particular bowler. He stands back for fast bowlers, and stands up for spinners

Stock Ball
A bowler’s regular delivery, minimum risk, little chance of runs or wickets. To get away with a slower ball, they need a stock ball to lull the batsman into a false sense of security

To protect one’s wicket at all costs, putting defence above all other virtues. See Jacques Kallis. Also a gay pride organisation

Strike Rate
The number of runs a batsman scores per 100 balls; the number of deliveries a bowler needs to take his wickets
Sundries Australian word for extras

A ball that curves through the air, as opposed to off the seam. See also, reverse swing


Players who come in towards the end of an innings, generally Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11, who are not noted for their batting prowess (although ideally they can bowl a bit by way of compensation)

To deliver the ball with a arm that flexes at the elbow at point of delivery, thereby enabling extra spin to be imparted for a slow bowler, or extra pace for a quick bowler. A topic of endless debate

A century (100 runs by a single batsman in one innings)

To give the ball a good wallop, onomatopoeically named after the sound a good hit makes. See also twat, biff, thwack, belt, spank and leather

The pitch


Slow, laborious type of bowler who thinks he’s quick, once was quick, or is simply old, fat and unfit and needs to be put out to pasture. See military medium

Twelfth man

A substitute fielder (and drinks waiter) for the chosen eleven. If called upon to play, he is permitted to field wherever he is needed, but can neither bat nor bowl

A wicket that is beginning to break up, usually after three or four days of a Test match, and so produces some deliveries that leap off a length, and others that sneak through at shin-height


Uncovered pitches
Pitches that are left open to the elements for the duration of a match so developing a variety of characteristics.


V – in the
The arc between mid-off and mid-on in which batsmen who play straight tend to score the majority of their runs. Modern aggressive players tend to prefer the V between point and third man


A circular graph or line-drawing depicting the region in which a batsman has scored his runs

When a batsman gives himself out without waiting for an umpire’s decision

Can be used to describe the 22 yards between the stumps, the stumps collectively (bails included), the act of hitting these stumps and so dismissing the batsman, and conversely, the act of not being out.

A delivery that pitches too far away from the batsman. The umpire will single this by stretching his arms out horizontally, an extra will be added to the total and the ball will be bowled again

Wrist Spin
The version of spin bowling in which the revolutions on the ball are imparted via a flick of the wrist, rather than a tweak of the fingers. As a general rule, a right-arm wristspinner’s action turns the ball from leg to off (legspin) while a left-armer turns it from off to leg (see chinaman)

Wrong ‘un
Australian term for a Googly – a legspinner’s delivery that turns in the opposite direction, ie from off to leg


A full-pitched delivery that is aimed at the batsman’s toes and/or the base of the stumps. If the ball is swinging, these can be the most lethal deliveries in the game