Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cricket's Baseball Lingo a Sticky Wicket

Baseball terms are slowly but surely making their way into the lexicon of British bat-brethren cricket, reports the New York Times.

In fact, a baseball exhibition is being co-hosted at the esteemed Lord's cricket ground in London--think, England's Yankee Stadium--by both the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Baseball Hall of Fame up in Cooperstown.

If American baseballers--and business-folk--"swing for the fences," cricketers (or are they cricketeers?) "slog for the boundaries."

Yet the two sports--both of which include a guy trying to cream a ball that another guy is attempting to throw past him (key difference: baseball uses a bat, cricket uses a fraternity ass-paddle)--increasingly share some terminology. "Batter" has apparently replaced "batsman" in English cricket, and the Times reporter also overheard "catcher," "pinch hitter," "outfield," "switch-hitter" and "curveball" while at Lord's cricket ground.

Mind you, a "splitter," "rib-eye steak" and "sink" have not yet been picked up by the Brits.

And it's worth mentioning that the baseball-language-to-cricket is not a one-way street. I have childhood memories of baseball announcers--not sure if it was Bob Murphy or Ralph Kiner or even Lindsey Nelson--saying a ground ball skittering between a shortstop's legs went "through the wickets."

Wickets, of course, are the cricket sticks a pitcher, known as a bowler, aims to knock down if he can sneak the ball past the batter. Jerry Seinfeld famously complained of a "wicket googly" while cricketing in an old American Express commercial. Offers Wikipedia (uh, shouldn't someone across the pond create a Wicketpedia for cricket fans?):

Most of the time, the wicket is one of the two sets of three stumps and two bails at either end of the pitch.[1] The wicket is guarded by a batsman who, with his bat, attempts to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket.

The origin of the word is from the standard definition of wicket as a small gate. Historically, cricket wickets had only two stumps and one bail and looked like a gate. The third (middle) stump was introduced in 1775.

By that definition, you could have a picket fence with a gate, and that gate would of course be a picket wicket.

That would be, as they might say around Fenway, wicket cool.
[image: NY Times]

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