Across the line - (of batting shot) in which the bat swings across the path of the ball, rather than along it. Risky, since it requires expert timing to make good contact.

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Backing up - Backing up: (1) Non-striker's action in walking up the pitch as the bowler bowls, in order to be ready for a quick run (similar to 'taking a lead' in baseball.) As the ball is in play at this point, he risks being run out if the bowler spots him out of his ground, although some batsmen seem to regard such a dismissal as unsporting conduct on the bowler's part, rather than sloppy cricket on their own. (2) Fielder's action in taking a position on the opposite side of the wicket from the fielder throwing the ball, in order to prevent overthrows. Its absence is the principal cause of recrimination within club second XIs.

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Calling - Batsman's method of indicating to his partner whether or not he intends to run. One of the few truly simple things in cricket - if the ball goes in front of the wicket, the striker calls; square or behind the wicket, the non-striker does. Better still, there are only three calls: 'Yes' and 'No' are self-explanatory; 'Wait' acts as an amber light, for example, when the ball is hit hard at a fielder, who may or may not stop it cleanly.

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Dead ball - When the ball is not in play, it is said to be 'dead'. The ball comes into play when the bowler starts his run-up, and becomes automatically dead when the umpire considers it to have 'finally settled' in the hands of the wicket-keeper or bowler, when a wicket falls, or when the ball reaches the boundary or when the umpire calls 'over' or 'time'. The umpire may call the ball dead at other times - for example, when the ball lodges in the batsman's clothing, or when a serious injury occurs to a player.

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Economy - A bowler's ability to prevent the batsmen from scoring. Of course, the best way to do this is to put them back in the hutch, but economy is usually measured in runs per over. In most forms of cricket, a bowler is happy with a rate of less than three runs an over.

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Farm the strike / bowling - Where a good batsman is batting with a tail-ender, he will often want to face as much of the bowling as possible, since he ought to be at less risk than his less proficient partner. To this end, he will aim to take a single from the fifth or sixth ball of an over, in order to put himself at the receiving end for the next. An astute captain will be aware of this tactic and may set his field to frustrate it, or to encourage the good batsman to take a single. Sometimes, however, a captain becomes so focused on getting at the tail-ender that he appears to forget about getting the batsman out. A valuable late-order partnership can develop this way, when a more aggressive approach from the fielding side might have stopped it before it began.

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Gardening - The laws allow a batsman to make minor repairs with his bat to the surface of the pitch, for example to pitch-marks made by the ball or scratches from fielders' studs. There's an element of psychology at work here too: a batsman beaten by a ball that whistled past his chin might prod the spot where it pitched to spare the bowler from giving himself too much credit for the delivery.

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Half-volley - An over pitched ball, whose pitch the batsman can reach easily, and so hit off the front foot.

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ICC - International Cricketing Council. See Governing bodies.

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Jaffa - Good or unplayable ball, typically one that bounces and leaves the bat late in its trajectory.


Knee roll - Not the peculiar chicken-effect product containing more gristle than meat, whose appearance at tea-time can be grounds for a club's removal from its visitors' fixture list, but the thickened part of the pad that protects the batsman's knee. Most usually spoken of when commentators use it as a crude guide for judging the height of a possible lbw: a ball that hits the batsman above the knee is likely to pass over the wicket.

Knocking in - Conditioning the surface of a new bat by repeatedly hitting it with an old ball or a wooden mallet. A bat that hasn't been adequately knocked in will splinter under the impact of a new ball.


Late cut - See Cut.

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Maiden - An over in which no run is scored off the bat, nor from a wide or no-ball. The traditional best man's joke about bowling a maiden over ceased to be funny before the First World War and was eventually outlawed by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1927.

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Maker's name - Sound defensive batting technique involves meeting the ball with the full face of the bat - 'showing the bowler the maker's name'. These days, most bats are so garishly decorated that the bowler could probably see the maker's name from the end of his run.

Match referee - An off-field official at Test matches and other major events, whose responsibility is to oversee the broader conduct of the game and to take any disciplinary action that may be required against the players.

Mid - Prefix of three infield fielding positions: mid-off between bowler and covers; mid-on in equivalent position on on-side; mid-wicket between mid-on and square leg.

Mid-wicket - A leg-side infield fielding position. As far as I can guess, the name derives from sense (3) of 'wicket', since the fielder is roughly level with the halfway point of the pitch.

Middle - (1) See In the middle. (2) The middle of the bat. (3) To hit the ball with the middle of the bat. Bat makers go to great lengths to persuade players that the new Ergomax Arsekicker has a larger, sweeter middle than any bat ever made. The truth is, however, that as long as the bat has a middle somewhere, a good player will have the timing to find it.

Middle, In the - Involved in the game. A batsman returning from injury or in a run of bad form may be said to be 'short of time in the middle', meaning short of match practice.

Middle stump - Of the three stumps which comprise a wicket, the one in the middle. See also Off stump and Leg stump.


Nelson - The number 111. The connection to Admiral Lord Nelson is tenuous and mostly unexplained, but the number that bears his name, and multiples of that number, are held to have mystical properties in English cricket. There are those - Test umpire David Shepherd prominent among them - who will not keep both feet on the ground while 111 is on the scoreboard, although quite what they are trying to prevent is not clear either.

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Obstructing the field - Another rare means of dismissal. A batsman who causes an intentional obstruction to the fielding side may be given out. The kind of accidental collision that occasionally results from two players watching the ball is not considered an infringement of this law. See also Out.

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