Cricketing terminology.
Its use – or sometimes – its misuse

My pet hate is  listening to players, spectators and especially TV and Radio commentators talking about the `wicket'.How it looks – flat, green, two paced, have uneven bounce etc etc. But why? Of course it is the pitch they are talking about. The wickets are the stumps and bails at each end.

Two umpires are appointed to control a game of cricket. They are the Bowler`s end umpire and the Striker`s end umpire – not the Square leg umpire. When at striker`s end, the umpires will often take their stance at or near the fielding position Square leg, but may also decide to stand at Point on the off side.

As the Law states , they stand where they can best see any act upon which their decision may be required. However umpires should remember that fielders `have right of way` on the field of play and umpires will adjust their positioning/stance to accommodate them.      

There are a host of restrictions on fielding positions in the various forms of limited overs cricket that we play, but also two in the Laws which apply in all cricket.  One is often carelessly referred to as “only two fielders are allowed behind square on the leg side”.  

I remember umpiring in a match where this situation arose. The bowler had a fine leg and a backward square leg and asked the captain for a short leg as well. The fielder was duly placed with the instruction “make sure  you are in front”.  

I trotted over to the off side so I could see all three fielders and the close fielder was crouching down with one foot on either side of the popping crease. `No ball ` “It wasn`t me”  protested the short leg - “I was  definitely in front”.    

They all thought that ` in front` meant in front of the line of the stumps. The Law wording  “At the instant of the bowler`s delivery there shall not be more than two fielders, other than the wicket-keeper, behind the popping crease on the on side”.

Talking of fielding positions, they really are a curious set of names.  The only fielder permitted to wear external leg guards and gloves is the wicket-keeper.  But what does that name mean?   Does he/she have to take the stumps and bails home after the match?  

Maybe Stumper would be better as they are the only fielder who can effect such a dismissal. Then we have slip, gully, point, cover and third man – Oops, can`t say that any more – it is not gender neutral. The commentators are split 50/50 on this. The more enlightened ones now describe the position as just `Third`. Lastly, when mid- off or mid- on are brought up to field close to the striker, they become  Silly mid-off and Silly mid-on.

Running out the non-striker.  I was very pleased that this long running controversy seems to have been, finally. put to bed. It was in 1947 that Aussie opener Bill Brown was dismissed twice  in this manner in a Test match.  

Since then the family name of the bowler concerned has been  used to describe this method of dismissal, in a derogatory manner, as if it was non-sporting, sharp practice or even cheating.  

The re-wording of the relevant Law by MCC was, in some small part, due to comments from the family speaking of their distress that their good name was still being sullied in this way some 76 years later. (So I haven`t used it here either.)    

With so much limited overs cricket played nowadays, dot balls are nearly as valuable as wickets, so non-strikers  taking a two or three yard start in what is effectively a 20 yard sprint had to be restricted.  

The Law is now crystal clear,  the non-strikers must be in their ground from the moment the bowlers begin their run ups until the instant they deliver the ball.