Sport is a big part of the culture of many countries, and the terminology of sport often enters the mainstream language. Frequently the original meaning of the sporting term is adapted to apply to other sets of circumstances or situations. This is particularly true of the game of cricket and English.
Cricket is probably the second most popular game in the world after football (or soccer if you think that the “World Series” is an international sporting event). The reason for cricket’s popularity is because it’s the number one sport in several countries with huge populations specifically India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Cricket has been played in England for hundreds of years, a form of the game was probably played as long ago as the 12th century. However, it was not until the 18th century that the game became a well-organized sport. A full explanation of the rather complex rules of cricket is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that two teams of 11 players try to score points (runs) by hitting a ball, with a bat, that is thrown (bowled) at the battings team’s wicket (three up right sticks-stumps-with a shorter stick balanced on the top). If the bowling team hits the wicket, then that batting player is “out” and must be replaced by one of his team mates. When all eleven players on a team have batted the teams swap over. The team with the most runs at the end of the game is declared the winner. Runs are scored when the batting player hits the ball far enough enabling him to “run” the length of the “pitch” (a 22 yard (20.12 m) long strip of the field in which the game is being played) before the ball can be gathered and returned to the bowler. Extra runs are awarded if the “batsman” can hit the ball to the edge of the field. If the hit ball is caught by one of the bowling team’s players, then the batsman is also ruled out.
To have a good innings. To have had a long and happy life. “Tom died last week. He was 95 so he had a good innings.” An innings is the length of time a batsman manages to stay in front of his wicket before being given “out”.
Be cricket. Fair play. "The way the boss treated his workers was not cricket.“
To hit someone for 6. To surprise someone. “When my wife told me she was leaving me it hit me for six.” A batsman scores 6 runs if he manages to hit the ball hard enough for it to reach the edge of the field without it touching the ground.
To be bowled over. To be astonished by something. “I was completely bowled over by the performance of the band.” A batsman is described as being “bowled” when he misses the ball and his wicket is hit by it.
On a sticky wicket. To be in a difficult situation. “The Government is on a sticky wicket. Do they ease the quarantine or not?” If the ground around the where the batsman is standing is uneven or less than ideal in some way, it will affect the bounce of the ball making it much harder to hit.
To be stumped. To have no idea what is going on. “I don’t know how to fix this problem I am completely stumped.” A batsman is given out when he fails to run the length of his pitch before the bowler can gather the ball and knock his wicket over with the ball, that is to “stump him”.
Off one’s own bat. To do something because you want to and no one else is instructing you to. “I came to Russia off my own bat, no one told me to.”
To catch someone out. To outwit someone. “The pickpocket was caught out by the watchful detective.” A batsman is given out if the ball he has hit is caught by an opposing player before it hits the ground.
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