Cricket’s often mocked for having its own weird and wonderful language. Who’s a fine leg? Why is a point silly? Where did the third man go, and why? But beneath the surface there’s an ever-stranger language – one more private, rarefied, esoteric – reserved for those of us who play club cricket.
“One brings two”
A perky invocation delivered from the safety of the office* that marries unimpeachable mathematical truth with the blindingly obvious. Delivered after a wicket falls, it’s the job of the fielding side to inform the new batsman that another wicket will now fall almost immediately. Considered across the spectrum of time itself, and taken with the knowledge that our little universe has been marking its guard for something like 13.8 billion years (give or take), we’d argue they’re on pretty safe ground.
* Office = the slip cordon. Obviously.
“What’s it doing?”
An existential poser, uttered with mocking souciance by the incoming lamb, pertaining to the nature of the bowling he is about to face. Emerging from the rabbit hole to discover his would-be vanquisher’s properties are wrapped in a densely buried mystery, he searches for guidance, even support. In quiet desperation he turns to the man at the other end, godless and barren, known only as ‘The Partner’. The question is posited to Partner, who leans on his bat. After a pause, he will offer a wordless shrug, and, by way of afterthought, a casual swish of the arm across the body. It will do, says the gesture, what it does. Cricket: it’s a team game, but it’s not.
“You and me here”
A touching if mildly craven call traditionally offered by the publicly chirpy, privately lovelorn stumper in the direction of his strappingly highly-sexed bowler. The idea being to fetishise both ‘line’ and ‘length’, thus ruling out the involvement of any other players on the pitch – batsman included.
“We don’t mind that”
A counter-intuitive chirp commonly proffered at the start of an innings after a bowler has been effortlessly clattered for four. At any other point boundaries are regarded as a negative outcome but when the ball is new this is a sign that the batsman is riding his luck and will imminently spoon one up to a fielder. While the bowler and the fielders all secretly despair, pretending otherwise can at times confuse the rustic batsman and cause him to wonder whether all this boundary hitting is actually detrimental to his team.
“Not to him”
Just not to him, alright? Not to him. You’ve not seen what he does? Not to him, that’s all. Him, sure. And him, and even, for that matter, him. Just not to him.
A Beckettian refrain ostensibly reserved for the seamer who has ‘settled in’ to a length and indeed a line so crushingly unimaginative that the game and possibly the whole great swindle of existence itself has ground to a halt.
“Get your head down”
Directed at the next man in as he walks out to the middle, normally in the grubby midst of a collapse, urging him to apply himself. This advice is most commonly offered by team ‘mates’ who have already donned their shorts and flip-flops having already given their wickets away.
“Keep your head up”
Normally used three balls later as consolation when the new batsman returns to the pavilion having been bowled swinging across the line.
“He’s only got one shot!”
Another phrase aimed at turning the negative of being hit repeatedly for boundaries into a positive. Having only one shot, despite it being an effective one, means that you are not a complete batsman and you should therefore aim to try and hit the ball somewhere different.
What have we missed? Should we keep our head up or do we need to change it up? Let us know your favourite phrases at email@example.com. Let’s build up an anthology of this stuff.