Brian Dalton, Fenruary 2021
I regularly heard many things on or around the cricket pitch over the years. Some were said in the changing room, in the pre-match huddle, or after a wicket fell by an inspirational captain or by a teammate trying to urge on their side. Other times things were shouted as words of encouragement by some over enthusiastic fielder. And then there were the things the batting side would shout out to hearten, or to calm down, their current batters. Below are some of the repeatable examples, broken down in to why they were supposedly used, why they were generally actually used, and when they might have been used.
“We bat all the way down”
Why Used: Often used by a captain before a game or at half time in a match when their team faces a daunting target. It sounds like a positive, like you bat from 1 to 11. Even if your batters fail, you’ll be able to post a target or chase what’s on the board.
Actual Meaning: You bat from 1 to 4, 1 to 4 includes your wicket keeper, and your captain doesn’t believe they have enough runs in them to set or chase a target. The rest of the 11 is made up of dodgy all-rounders and the one bowler you have that bats 11 and takes the new ball. Your lack of actual batting means you’ve over compensated and dropped all your actual bowling, meaning you are a mish mash of nothingness.
When Used: Used throughout the leagues. Made famous by any England ODI side in the late 90’s when the side had Adam Hollioake, Craig White, Robert Croft, Ian Austin, Matthew Fleming, Mark Ealham and Darren Gough batting from 5 to 11.
“We have plenty of time to get these runs”
Why Used: The opposition have made a low total. The captain wants to ensure you win comfortably by batting sensibly. Often accompanied by a quiet word with the more experienced opener that involves the line “I want a not out next to your name when we chase this, as we have very little after you”.
Actual Meaning: The captain has little or no trust in you as a batting side. They have watched all of you throw your wicket away far too often and know a couple of early wickets could result in a catastrophic collapse. They know the majority of the team are better at drinking shots then playing shots, and know the 20 odd extras you’ll pick up if you bat time will see you over the line.
When Used: Used widely, especially back in the day when sides gained their opponents overs if they bowled them out. Immortalised by Old Belvederes lower sides in the late 90’s/early 2000’s when Fintan Synnott and Tom O’Gorman strangled the opposition out for about 110 and Gerry Murphy was sent out to get 40* in the 40/50/60 over chase.
“I’m going to back my bowlers”
Why Used: Regularly used by a captain to justify choosing to bowl first, no matter what the conditions or state of the pitch, despite the protestations of their team-mates. They have full confidence in their bowling attack being able to dismiss the opposition for a low total. Often backed up by looking to the sky like a meteorologist, and looking at the pitch like a groundman with 40 years of experience.
Actual Meaning: If the captain is a bowler, they have zero confidence in their side to set a target. They thus want to ensure they get their full allocation of overs and therefore have every opportunity to take wickets. If the captain is a bat, they believe they, and they alone, will chase down whatever target is set, no matter how high, and that knowing what they personally require is the only way to ensure victory.
When Used: Generally, by egotistic captains who think they, and their performance on the day, is the only way their team will win the game. This, in its worst form, can result in your opponent’s being inserted in 30 degrees heat, having travelled 250 kilometres, when you have little bowling in your side and your opening bowler has forgotten his boots.
“We don’t mind seeing that”
Why Used: An opponent who has been in 6 overs batting solidly and well, has hit two 4’s already off this over from your opening bowler, both through the covers, off the middle and along the ground. The next ball flies to the boundary too, still middled, though slightly in the air, between cover and point. In an effort to encourage the bowler and fielding side, the fielder at first slip, who never has to chase it, lets out this gem of wisdom, in an effort to suggest it was a false shot and the batter will be caught soon.
Actual Meaning: We do mind seeing it, and we would much prefer they had played and missed. The opening bowler has just gone for 12 this over. The cover fielder who has had to chase all 3 4’s is cursing the bowler; the bowler is cursing himself. The batsman is getting very comfortable. There is trouble ahead.
When used: Generally heard when a stroke player is settling in for a big one. They no longer have to keep it on the ground as they are now confident of finding the gap through the air. Think like when Eddie Richardson stops hitting it for 4 and starts hitting it for 6 instead.
“Let’s get two before tea”
Why Used: You’ve been bowled out 1st innings with plenty of overs to spare for a double figure total. Your captain has talked up the pitch and the conditions in his team talk, as well as the advantage you’ve supposedly gained by now being able to get two spells out of your opening bowlers straight away. You have 6 overs in the field, and the plan is to have them 8/2 by tea, thus getting you potentially back in the game, with the openers still fresh to bowl again. The first 2 balls of the innings are dots and the enthusiastic badger at cover shouts these words of encouragement.
Actual Meaning: Your captain has ignored the fact both the pitch and conditions were perfect and the only reason you were bowled out was your own incompetence. If the opposition are 20/0 at the break it’s game over, their confidence is up, yours, already low, will be at rock bottom, and you might as well not go out after tea. The opposition knows this. Even the enthusiastic badger knows it.
When Used: Against teams like Leinster 1sts in 2012. The opposition have batted first and Tim Law, Joey Carroll, Joel Leacock and Anton Scholtz have gone through them with overs to spare. Leinster need to bat 6 overs before tea, as they have been so good in the bowling department. Even if they get the 2 before tea, they only have Moreton, Scholtz, Leacock, Carrol and O’Dwyer to get out before getting a sniff of the tail. But two before tea still has a nice ring to it.
“We have them, they need them” or “That’s x dots in a row”
Why Used: Sayings that tend to be used in an effort to both encourage your own team and put pressure on the opposition. Commonly used after a string of dot balls by one of the outfielders. The intention of same is to remind the batter of this pressure in the hope they will try and break the run of dots by playing a false stroke off a good ball instead of batting sensibly (as they have been) and waiting to dispatch the bad ball that will eventually come.
Actual Meaning: We don’t really have them, and you’re going to get them providing you don’t do anything stupid. There really is no pressure for you to score quickly, mainly due to the fact you probably have 30 overs left and were ahead of the rate before this run of dots. But we are on top in the last 8 balls, and it’s only the here and now that matters.
When Used: Used widely. Most effective against stroke players, but can be used against anyone, particularly those that are poor at maths and unable to work out required run rates in their head. Quite effective at times, leading to many false strokes being played that result in the ball going in the air and coming down with snow on it; the only question being which field it will come down in. If it’s the one next door, the individual who shouted the saying, is left with egg on their face.
“He/She misses, you hit”
Why Used: The batter is playing strokes, attempting to hit every ball to the boundary, whether it’s going to hit the stumps or not. Tends to be used to encourage a bowler who has just been hit for numerous boundaries, by a fielder that hasn’t had to chase the ball.
Actual Meaning: Please God, let this batter miss the rare one you actually bowl on the stumps. Otherwise, it’s going to be a very long day.
When Used: Used generally in the lower leagues, particularly when individuals with a good eye and a hurling background are batting. Balls are flying to all areas of the ground, usually due to some quite agricultural shots. Despite putting 5 fielders in a ring around cow corner, the ball keeps beating them. You’ve already dropped the batter twice on 1 and 15 and they are now 55* off very little. Your last hope is hitting those stumps.
“It’s swinging like a 60’s disco”
Why Used: The ball is swinging like a big banana, or so you want the opposition to think. Used to put doubt in the mind of the batting side and to encourage your bowler, by a keeper or member of the slip cordon after one beats the edge, having swung or not swung.
Actual Meaning: 60’s discos must have been pretty poor as this bowler hasn’t managed to swing a ball since they used a Wind Ball at Under 11s level. Yes, it should be swinging for everyone, as the conditions are perfect, and the team have worked on the ball, but it’s not for this guy. But if the opposition think he’s swinging it, great.
When Used: Any time the ball beats the bat this one can be thrown out, whether its swung or not. Comes in to its own when it is actually swinging and you have a bowler that can swing the ball. The make of the ball can play a vital role in this, just ask anyone that has had the pleasure to bowl with a ball Sathish Ayyappath has brought back from India with him.
“Backing up lads, There’s one there”
Why Used: Shouted by those on the side-line, mainly by those that have batted already on the batting side, particularly in a close 2nd innings chase, when the batters appear to have missed out on a run. Used to encourage those who are batting to ensure they miss out on no opportunities to pick up a run.
Actual Meaning: Do as I say, not as I do. Having not run 30 such singles in the previous 30 overs the now dismissed batters expect those who are currently in to risk their wicket for an even tighter single then the ones they themselves turned down earlier.
When Used: Mainly used by the individual who never runs a single and is known for sitting on their bat handle at the non-striker’s end. There is, and never has been one there when the individual shouting it has batted.
“Keep the head down”
Why Used: Another one used by the batting side, from the side-line. Can be used in either innings and tends to be thrown out after the batter has struck a slightly streaky 4 to encourage the batter to concentrate and play correctly.
Actual Meaning: An unprintable version of “Stop being an idiot and bat sensibly”
When Used: You need 6 an over, you’ve already hit 10 off 3 balls this over, and you’ve played a shot, missing the ball by inches, off the 4th ball that would have seen the ball go 3 fields over if you’d connected.
There’s plenty more such sayings about, generic ones like the above, as well as ones unique to each club. Have a think about them. When you get one, you tend to get two.