Cricketing Jargon Illustrated : “Doing a Bit of Gardening”

No doubt, over the coming days, many of you will be listening in to Test Match Special, and some of you may find that you are confused by some of the expressions used by the commentators.  I know I am, particularly by young Michael Vaughan, with his talk of bowlers “notching up 120 clicks” and so on.

But there are some expressions that I do understand, and I thought it might be helpful to try to explain one or two of them, by the use of illustrations from cricketing history.

“Doing a bit of gardening“, for instance.  You will often hear batsmen being described as doing this between overs, or even balls (particularly when Cook and Trott are sharing a partnership).

Does this mean that they are doing a bit of weeding on the square, or planting a row of peonies along the popping crease?  Certainly not.  It means that they are using their bats to replace any small divots that they might have created, or remove any minor obstructions that might divert the progress of the ball.  This ritual also enables the batsmen to remain “in the zone“, which is clearly crucial.

The illustration here is of Frank Woolley, the great Kent and England all-rounder.

(If you can’t see him properly, by the way, I suggest standing ten yards or so back from the computer, and squinting.  Then he appears as clear as a bell.)


2 thoughts on “Cricketing Jargon Illustrated : “Doing a Bit of Gardening”

  1. Any chance of making the Backwatersman Illustrated Lexicon a regular feature? I enjoy cricket, but I confess that I don’t always understand the lingo. What exactly IS the offside rule…..

  2. I’ll see what I can do, WH, if I can get the scanner to behave.

    The off side rule used to be that it was considered ungentlemanly to hit the ball to the leg side (i.e. not to the off side) but this has been archaic since about the time of Ranji and Fry in the early 1900s. I believe other sports have their own offside rules.

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