An outsider coming into a new sport has much to learn. But the actual rules of the game are just the beginning. To really be a part of that world, you also have to learn to speak the language of sport.
Certainly every sport has its own terminology, but none so much as cricket. The game is shot through with complicated dictionary entries and turns of phrase that seem to come from nowhere, and nicknames that have evolved beyond all recognition of the original.
This secret language allows for exchanges that would put the ‘Who’s on first’ routine to shame: “So that man is a seamer?” “Yes, that’s right, he’s a pacer.” “Then why are they calling him a fast bowler?!” “That’s what I’m trying to tell you!”
For those in the know, the jargon comes naturally from their lips, as if it is their native tongue. In my attempts to learn and love the sport of cricket, I have tried to get a grasp on what these words mean. In my world, that means asking questions and drawing pictures. The education began when we first christened our cat ‘Wicket’, and is ongoing. I learned what a Yorker was in Barbados, about seam and swing in Manchester, and what it meant to “generate pace” just this morning.
Along the way, I have drawn a series of pictures to help me remember the meanings. They were drawn in various cricket stadiums and pubs on our journey so far, and I’m sure they are just the beginning.
So the next time someone tries to talk to you about bouncers and fine legs, there’s this handy guide! You will sound like a cricket genius in no time, or at least until the next sentence.