I’m sure that those of you who listen to Test Match Special will have become used, over the years, to Geoffrey Boycott’s habit of prefixing almost any technical term with the phrase “what I call“. I think he began by using it to refer to some catchphrase of his own (e.g. “The Corridor of Uncertainty”), but it seems to have developed into a kind of obsessive verbal tic, so that he finds himself saying things like “What I call the bowler is handing what I call his sweater to what I call the umpire”.
This also finds its way into print, as in this example from the Telegraph –
“I also think India’s batsmen must target Tillakaratne Dilshan’s gentle off spinners and the same goes for Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner, because you just can’t allow what I call two ordinary bowlers to tie you down.”
and this (from Pak Passion) – he’s talking about Shoiab Akhtar –
“It’s a gift to be able to bowl fast, genuinely what I call really fast.”
But I realised, listening to his commentary on the last Test Match, that he seems to have retired the phrase, and replaced it with “what we call“. Now perhaps someone at the BBC might have suggested that he was beginning to sound a little – what I call – egocentric – or perhaps someone has pointed out another resemblance …