Describing events

« previous post | next post »

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "The thrower started hitting the bats too much, so the king of the game told him to leave and brought out another thrower from thrower jail."

A French friend who recently stayed with me for a while clearly experienced baseball in roughly this way (except without the focused attention).


  1. Michael Carasik said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 9:15 am

    See also Camus' report on this broadcast from the "Philosophy News Network" (h/t Existential Comics):

  2. bks said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 9:22 am

    Curling would have been funnier.

  3. m said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 9:28 am

    AND it fits right in with the recent LL post on "if you're just joining me"

  4. Chris C. said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 10:07 am

    Still not as opaque to the uninitiated as cricket.

  5. D.O. said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 10:14 am

    He should have renamed "bat" somehow. Maybe, a "striking stick"?

  6. Sili said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 10:14 am

    Iono. At least curling makes sense. And runs at quite a clip.

  7. Chappers said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 10:31 am

    Chris C., Still not as opaque to the uninitiated as cricket.

    Ironically, I was naïvely garden-pathed into reading it as about cricket until the pillows came up. Although perhaps the way "leave" is used in cricket is rather too technical for Beret Guy. And obviously I should have known better than to expect an American to write something about cricket anyway…

  8. leoboiko said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 10:50 am

    I'm uninitiated to all of curling, cricket, and baseball, and the latter is by far the most baffling to me, and the only one where I can't even guess what's happening and who's supposed to be winning.

  9. bratschegirl said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 11:02 am

    Insert here one hearty recommendation that all and sundry read Bill Bryson's description of hearing a cricket match radio broadcast while half asleep, from his "In a Sunburned Country."

  10. J. W. Brewer said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 11:26 am

    For Americans who've never taken a foreigner with no understanding of the sport to a baseball game and tried to explain what's going on and why, I recommend it (I did this in the early '90's at Wrigley Field with a young German woman who'd just finished a summer internship at the UN working for a friend of mine and was off to "see America" via Greyhound before returning for her senior year at the University of, IIRC, Constance/Konstanz). It's not unlike realizing you obviously tacitly understand (because you apply it correctly in practice) the grammar of your L1 perfectly well but lack the ability to successfully explain that grammar to the visiting anthropologist, who finds things that strike you as perfectly obvious to be a baffling and chaotic assortment of improbable rules riddled with inexplicable exceptions.

  11. un malpaso said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 11:57 am

    I wonder if there is any socio-psychological research on the "comparative inherent innate comprehensibility of sporting events"?

    In other words, if you were a neutral observer who had no idea of the rules of any sport, how easy would it be to figure out what was happening?

    I would rank baseball, cricket, and American football pretty low on the comprehensibility scale, and ancient competitive sports like races, decathlon, wrestling, etc. pretty high. "It's obvious, those guys are trying to throw the ball as far as possible!" But is this a cultural thing?

    I tend to think that, given a short amount of time watching, even a Trobriand Islander would be able to derive the basic structure of a baseball game. but it would be interesting to find out.

  12. Ralph Hickok said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

    I was once sitting near an English visitor as we watched a World Series game in a bar. He had asked beforehand if it would be all right if he wanted an explanation of anything about baseball and of course I said it would be perfectly fine.

    He had no questions for the first couple of innings. Then, after the announcer said, "The pitch is low and outside. That's a ball," the Englishman leaned toward and asked, "Why does he feel compelled every so often to inform us that it's a ball?"

  13. Linda said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

    @ un malpaso

    But the Trobriand Islanders start with the advantage of knowing how to play cricket, or at least their version of cricket.

  14. Richard Hershberger said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

    My brother told me about a German colleague of his who, upon moving to America, decided he should learn about baseball, what with its being the American national pastime. His strategy was to read a copy of the Official Rules. This did not go well.

    As for cricket, its incomprehensibility is vastly overstated. This is mostly by Americans, but I have come across people from cricket countries who are happy to explain how cricket is much more sophisticated and subtle than baseball. I doubt that people with neither sport in their backgrounds would find either more difficult than the other to understand.

    In both cases there is a manageable set of formal vocabulary. Talking about wides and LBWs is neither more nor less confusing than talking about balls and strikes. Both also have a much larger set of informal vocabulary. This is harder to pick up, partly because of the size of the set, partly because it tends not to be defined in places you can look it up, and partly because it changes relatively rapidly. Radio and television commentators use a lot of this informal vocabulary, which is why they tend to be incomprehensible to non-fans.

  15. Ernie in Berkeley said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    Isn't this an example of Randall's "Thing Explainer", his attempts to explain things using only the most common 1000 words in English?

  16. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

    un malpaso:

    I wonder if there is any socio-psychological research on the "comparative inherent innate comprehensibility of sporting events"?

    In other words, if you were a neutral observer who had no idea of the rules of any sport, how easy would it be to figure out what was happening?

    I think being able to see the spectators' reactions would be a big help. So would TV coverage, knowing what to focus on (at least for a start) and seeing things such as the first-down lines in football and the image of where the pitch went in relation to home plate in baseball.

  17. J. W. Brewer said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

    Re absolute degrees of comprehensibility, I think the world's currently most widely popular sport, i.e. soccer, is quite easy to figure out the basics of (get the ball into the net more times than your opponents do, but don't use your hands unless you're that one player with a different outfit), with nuances like the offside rule coming later but not interfering with basic comprehension in the meantime. Baseball is several orders of magnitude more complex (ok, you win by scoring more runs, but "scoring a run" isn't itself a semantic primitive, because how you initially get on base versus being out, how you can and can't advance around the bases after that, etc. are all complicated and difficult to simplify to a single core concept because there are typically multiple different pathways to the same result). Perhaps soccer is like a pidgin or contact language whose syntax has been stripped down to the bare minimum, in order to facilitate not-very-sophisticated cross-cultural communication?

  18. George Grady said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

    Richard Hershberger,

    Both also have a much larger set of informal vocabulary. This is harder to pick up, partly because of the size of the set, partly because it tends not to be defined in places you can look it up, and partly because it changes relatively rapidly.

    Wikipedia, of course, is there to help:

  19. popegrutch said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

    @Ernie in Berkeley:
    Forunately, the website "Explain xkcd" ( provides us with an answer to your question: 'While the text sounds like it was done in the same style as Up-Goer Five, it does not comply with Randall's rules for Thing Explainer. Running the text of the comic through simplewriter shows that this comic uses words that are not among the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. The non-complying words are "Bat," "Shelves" "Wow," "Rude," "Teammates," "Pillow," "Yikes," and "Hopefully." '

  20. D.O. said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

    @J. W. Brewer. I think you have to distinguish learning basic rules (relatively simple for soccer) and trying to figure out what is going on on the field. When I first watched baseball, it was almost crystal clear what was going on — one guy was throwing a ball, the other one was trying or sometimes not trying to hit it (why, that was a complete mystery) and then some guys are running around the square and others are throwing this ball toward the square (or sometimes not doing it, but once again it was unclear why). The trouble was to figure out what triggers this or that action. In soccer, it is much easier to understand what are the formal decision points, but I think somewhat harder to figure out what everyone is doing at each time moment.

  21. cameron said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

    I think cricket and baseball are about equally complicated. Both of those bat and ball games, however, are dwarfed in complexity by the Byzantine complexity of American Football. In that sport, the officials wear microphones to explain their rulings.

    Just last night we saw an example, though, of a good example of baseball's quirky nature: the fact that the playing fields are so far from standardized, and have specifically defined house rules for games that are played in each ballpark. Specifically, last night a ball was lost in the ivy that covers the back wall at Wrigley Field. The rule is that such a ball counts as a ground-rule double. The upshot of it last night was that the runner who had been on first when the ball was struck had to go back to third base. If it had bounced off the wall, like it would have at another ballpark, the runner would have scored.

  22. John Thayer Jensen said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

    My wife and I moved from the States to New Zealand in early 1973. The first morning we were in our motel, turned on the television, and a cricket match was on. I was completely bewildered by it. First thing that happened was the guy with this really weird bat – flat, which seemed like cheating – hit the ball and didn't even run!. And then when he did run, there was another guy swapping places with him with his own flat bat, which seemed useless where he had been because there was no one going to throw a ball at him.

    And the pitcher (as I thought of him) threw the ball at the ground, and so on and so forth.


  23. Ken Miner said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

    I would like some of that socio-psychological attention to focus on how everybody but me seems to know the rules of all the sports without ever having studied them.

    I was a bookish kid and avoided sports by every means available, but on one occasion I was somehow inveigled into playing baseball. I knew nothing of the rules, since no one had ever explained them to me. I was at bat, missed every pitch, and figured I was out. But on the last pitch, the catcher apparently failed to catch the ball. Everybody was shouting “Run, Miner, run!” I took this to be mockery, walked off the field, and never tried to play baseball again. Or anything else.

    I guess there is a rule that says if the catcher does not catch the ball, you can run. This is no doubt covered in the rule book covering every sport, issued at birth to everyone in the culture, except me.

  24. Rubrick said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

    "Chair shelves" was timely for me; I recently had an Englishman express perplexity at "bleachers" (a singularly odd and opaque term). Though baseball announcers usually refer to them as "stands", which is amusing on its own.

  25. PAUL R HOEBER said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

    Hard to beat Andy Griffith's 1953 monologue: "What It Was, Was Football" — it's easy to find on the internet to listen to, read, or buy.

  26. J. W. Brewer said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 3:04 pm

    Ken Miner: fwiw if you'd asked me before the experience referenced above of taking a foreign guest to a ball game if I followed sports I would have said not very much, and, indeed, that I was probably a couple standard deviations below median for an American male of my generational cohort in that respect (although I guess not as far out in the left tail of the distribution as you were). But it turned out that when contrasted to a true outsider to the culture I had a more detailed and accurate tacit understanding of the grammar of baseball than I might have supposed I did.

  27. Chas Belov said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 5:07 pm

    As I recall, cricket is well-explained in the excellent novel How I Won the War by Patrick Ryan (but not the dreadful film version).

  28. Bloix said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 5:07 pm

    There is an amusing scene in one of the Aubrey-Maturin novels in which Stephen Maturin, an Irishman, steps in to bat in a cricket match. Not knowing the rules, he assumes that they are similar to hurling, so he catches the ball, tosses it up, and smashes it out of the field.

  29. Ralph Hickok said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

    Bob Newhart's take seems to fit here:

  30. Gregory Kusnick said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

    It's not just a question of how complex the rules are, but also of whether the players actually obey them. Basketball, hockey, and (American) football are notable in that rule violations form a routine part of the action, which invokes a whole 'nother set of meta-rules. For me, that's the mark of a dysfunctional game whose rules have been gerrymandered to the point of unplayability.

  31. Gregory Kusnick said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 9:29 pm

    Serendipitously, I just came across this explanation of whack-bat in Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox.

  32. Barbara Partee said,

    October 21, 2015 @ 11:01 pm

    I posted this comic on my Facebook page and got some more interesting discussion. One that LLog readers should enjoy is this reference – Cricket Tea Towel of Doom:

  33. Jason said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 12:15 am

    Rita Rudner did a very funny sketch in the eighties where she explained cricket to Americans, but it isn't googlable unfortunately. But of course this joke is at least as old as Lucian's "Discussion on Physical Training", where he has the barbarian Anacharsis get the Greek concept of "gymnastics" explained to him, with increasing incredulity.

  34. Bart said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 2:06 am

    In most sports there are certain conventions that are not written down but quite vital.
    In soccer it is illegal to trip an opponent deliberately. But that rule is unenforceable. How can the referee possibly know what is in the player's mind? The player might be a very decent fellow who would never trip an opponent deliberately, but so clumsy that he often trips an opponent accidentally. How is the referee to know that?
    So in practice by convention the rule is interpreted as 'it is illegal to lunge at the ball without getting it in such a way that the opponent trips over, but it is ok if you do get the ball, even though the opponent trips over. '.

  35. Joyce Melton said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 2:19 am

    I took an English friend to see a baseball game back in the 90s. I warned him that it was a slow, careful, low-scoring game but it turned out to be a homerun derby and the final score was 17-15 with three home runs hit by each side and one each grand slam.

    He seemed to be enjoying himself with occasional questions. Soccer was his game and he knew only marginally more about cricket than I did.

    After the game, I asked if he had fun and he said yes, he had. "What did you enjoy most?" I asked.

    "That you serve beer in your stadiums," he said, grinning.

  36. Geoff said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 4:01 am

    What about baseball for 8-year-olds?

    Batter hits the ball and starts running. Fielder catches it and looks around as though to say, 'what do I do now?' Coaches shouts, 'Throw it to two!'

    Fielder, holding the ball, thinks about this for a bit. Probably he's trying to remember what 'two' refers to. Batter is still running. Coach shouts, 'Throw it to three!' Fielder now has an expression that says, 'But you just told me to throw it to two!'


  37. DPickering said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 5:25 am

    Aside from arcane details, as a spectator I can get the gist of most sports while watching them. I find nearly incomprehensible, though reading a description of a cricket match. Too many prepositions used as nouns. I think.

  38. Ralph Hickok said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:21 am

    Another comedic approach to the problem was Andy Griffith's classic "What It Was, Was Football":

  39. Richard Hershberger said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:30 am

    @ Bart: "In most sports there are certain conventions that are not written down but quite vital."

    Very much this. It happens with any sport above a minimal level of complexity. American football derived from Rugby around 1880. The Americans had the Rugby rules, but little direct contact with people who had played it in England. They couldn't quite make it work, because they didn't know the unwritten conventions. They had to alter the rules, resulting in a drastically different game.

  40. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:56 am

    "As for cricket, its incomprehensibility is vastly overstated. This is mostly by Americans, but I have come across people from cricket countries who are happy to explain how cricket is much more sophisticated and subtle than baseball. I doubt that people with neither sport in their backgrounds would find either more difficult than the other to understand."

    Yes, this. It suits both nations' amour propre to claim that cricket is incredibly hard to understand: we Limeys can then congratulate ourselves on being all culturally sophisticated and Greece-to-their-Rome, and Americans can congratulate themselves on having no use for that effete tea-drinking malarkey, being no-nonsense people who cook with gas and get things done. This means that the complexity of cricket is routinely exaggerated on both sides of the Atlantic.

    I would say the two games are roughly equally complex. (I'm a big fan of both, with cricket edging it, perhaps because having been brought up on it I can read it better.) My favourite writer on cricket, the late and much missed Mike Marqusee, was an American, and seemed remarkably unbaffled, throughout his career, by the sport's supposedly recondite character.

  41. mollymooly said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:58 am

    I was recently amused to discover that Fighting in ice hockey and Violence in ice hockey are two different Wikipedia articles.

    @Richard Hershberger:

    The Americans had the Rugby rules, but little direct contact with people who had played it in England. They couldn't quite make it work, because they didn't know the unwritten conventions.

    Similarly, the Southern Hemisphere has evolved a game completely incompatible with that played in the Northern Hemisphere.

  42. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 8:07 am

    I've been thinking about prepositions used as nouns in cricket, and I'm not sure there are any. "Over" looks like one, but I think it derives from a predicate-adjective use of "over" (as in "That bowler's turn is over".) "Bye" is a homophone of "by", but no more than that.

    "On" and "off" look like candidates, but I reckon they're really plain-vanilla adjectives: we occasionally say "hitting the ball to off", but we mean by that "hitting the ball to the off side", and fielding positions like "silly mid-off" derive from this adjectival usage, not from any prepositional one.

    I might be missing some, though, in which case my middle stump will cartwheel towards the keeper, and I'll begin the lonely walk to the Pavilion. What were you thinking of?

  43. Rodger C said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 8:42 am

    Ken Miner, thanks for bringing this subject up. This cartoon took me back to afternoons in my living room reading while my father listened to Cincinnati Reds baseball. The slow, intermittent, repetitious, incomprehensible chitchat helped turn me away from sports (well, that and being two years younger than nearly all my classmates). The only game in gym class that I ever halfway enjoyed was the few times we played soccer–because none of my classmates knew any more about it than I did, and because, unlike American football, (a) it was transparent and (b) the action was continuous instead of being chunked into ten-second episodes of violence separated by five minutes of being harangued.

  44. Bloix said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

    Phil, he was making a joke. As an American who travels to London on business, and has occasionally read a report of a cricket match in the papers, I can verify that the stories barely appear to be written in coherent English. They are harder to follow than Jabberwocky, because there you can at least tell what the parts of speech are, while in cricket the sentences are not merely meaningless, they're not even sentences. "Hitting the ball to off" – WTF?

  45. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    Ken Miner:

    I would like some of that socio-psychological attention to focus on how everybody but me seems to know the rules of all the sports without ever having studied them.

    I was a bookish kid and avoided sports by every means available, but on one occasion I was somehow inveigled into playing baseball.

    I was a bookish kid, but my parents watched sports on TV and I watched with them, and they explained things to me. They also took me out into the yard and showed me how to hold a bat and run bases and catch with a glove and stuff like that, which I enjoyed till I started to realize how bad I was. However, I probably didn't learn the rule about dropped third strikes till later than a lot of the boys (possibly surprising, considering how often I struck out).

    Also, I was forced to play baseball-like games in a number of gym classes.

    Since you avoided sports, it's no wonder you avoided all the opportunities to learn the rules by ordinary means.

  46. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 4:31 pm

    "Phil, he was making a joke."

    You reckon? You're probably right. But you can't expect someone from another culture to be 100% sensitive to that kind of nuance of tone, especially in writing. Americans often fail to spot when Limeys are joking too. (Plus I must admit, I think it's a *slightly* thin comic seam. Different culture is different.)

    I still think the idea of the nouning of a preposition is pretty interesting, even if it was meant as a rib-tickler. I wonder if there are any actual examples.

  47. Ralph Hickok said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

    @Phil Ramsden:
    I think an "out" in baseball is one example of nouning a preposition.

  48. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 5:23 pm

    Ralph: that occured to me, but again I think it comes from a predicate usage. "You're out."

  49. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 5:36 pm

    This conversation reminds me a bit of this classic bit of vintage Dawkins irritability, aimed at Steven Jay Gould:

    '… baseball occupies 55 jargon-ridden pages of this otherwise lucid book and I must enter a mild protest on behalf of those readers who live in that obscure and little known region called the rest of the world.
    I invite Americans to imagine that I spun out a whole chapter in the following vein:

    "The home keeper was on a pair, vulnerable to anything from a yorker to a chinaman, when he fell to a googly given plenty of air. Silly mid on appealed for leg before, Dicky Bird’s finger shot up and the tail collapsed. Not surprisingly, the skipper took the light. Next morning the night watchman, defiantly out of his popping crease, snicked a cover drive off a no ball straight through the gullies and on a fast outfield third man failed to stop the boundary . . ." etc. etc.'

    Full piece at

  50. Chris C. said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

    After reading Ralph Hickock's experience with an English first-time baseball watcher, I tried imagining how I'd explain what a "ball" is to someone who knows absolutely nothing about baseball. It turned out to be much more complicated than I'd imagine.

    @Bliox — I have the Jabberwocky experience when I read a newspaper column on bridge. The sentences seem to consist of words of the proper parts of speech, but what they might signify is a mystery.

  51. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

    "A ball is a pitch that misses the strike zone (in the opinion of the plate unpire) and that the hitter doesn't swing at." Doesn't that about cover it, bar some technicalities about checked swings and so on? I guess you need to know what the strike zone is.

  52. Chris C. said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

    Yes, but once you know what a "strike zone" is more questions would tend to come up. The point isn't that it's inexplicable, it's that finally making sense of a "ball" so you understand what it means to the game needs more than its bare definition.

  53. Jason said,

    October 22, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

    @Chris C.

    If you're talking to someone from a cricket-playing country, you can simply explain that a "ball" means the same thing as a "wide." Or if they demand more precision, the intensional denotation is the same or similar. The precise extensional semantics that are involved in applying the notion of "unfair because it's pitched too far out for the batter to reasonably hit" to baseball are hardly important.

  54. Bart said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 2:52 am

    @ Phil Ramsden
    Dawkins’s piece is pretty irritating because it contains numerous inauthentic things that suggest Dawkins isn't really fluent in cricketspeak:
    – nobody ever says ‘his popping crease’; ‘the popping crease’ is normal
    – ‘the gullies’ is possible but very unusual; there is normally no more than one gully fielder
    – if the batsman ‘snicked’ the ball it might well go in the direction of ‘third man’ but on the way it wouldn’t go straight through gully or (in Dawkins's text) ‘straight through the gullies’
    + other things too tedious to explicate

  55. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 5:11 am

    Bart: yeah, I know. Also (and I think more damningly), if the tail has collapsed, then how come they sent in a nightwatchman? You only do that after the loss of a top or middle order wicket.

    I like to imagine that this has been pointed out to Dawkins repeatedly, to his intense irritation.

  56. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 5:14 am

    Mind you, an edge through gully might well be fielded by the third man fielder, especially if there was no deep backward point.

    I'll stop now.

  57. Bart said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 5:35 am

    I thought of that about the nightwatchman. But then I thought in fairness to Dawkins that he could save himself by postulating events in the following sequence:
    1 5th wicket falls: nightwatchman comes in (say number 11 batsman instead of number 7)
    2 6th wicket falls: as described, batsman (not nightwatchman) out lbw
    3 tail collapses: not all of it, only wickets 7, 8 and 9, but not including the nightwatchman
    4 skipper takes light
    5 next morning play starts with 9 wickets down with the nightwatchman who came in at the fall of the 5th wicket still there; he snicks etc.
    It’s a conceivable sequence. But I don’t get the impression that Dawkins is knowledgeable enough about cricket to construct it.
    Anyway, I’ll stop now.

  58. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 11:38 am

    @Bart: No, no, I think everyone's loving this…

  59. Phil Ramsden said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 11:42 am

    I've got a candidate for a sporting noun from a preposition: "behind", from Australian Rules football.

  60. Bart said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

    @Phil: Yes, I can sense the silent beams of contentment all over Baseball-land.

    In that case, I disagree with your message of 0514 rebutting mine of 0252.
    My point was that if you try to play a cover drive and snick the ball, then the ball is pretty certain to go behind the wicket, and since gully isn't behind the wicket the ball can't go through that area.

  61. Chris C. said,

    October 23, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

    @Jason — Fine. What the hell's a "wide"?

  62. Bart said,

    October 24, 2015 @ 2:03 am

    @ Chris C
    You need to read Law 25 Wide ball which starts off
    1. Judging a Wide
    (a) If the bowler bowls a ball, not being a No ball, the umpire shall adjudge it a Wide if, according to the definition in (b) below, in his opinion the ball passes wide of the striker where he is and which also would have passed wide of him standing in a normal guard position.
    (b) The ball will be considered as passing wide of the striker unless it is sufficiently within his reach for him to be able to hit it with his bat by means of a normal cricket stroke.

    However, the term ‘normal cricket stroke’ is not defined anywhere, which seems a bit of a gap IMO.

    The whole Law 25 is too long to quote here. There are seven more clauses some of them with sub-clauses, of which 3a is a little gem:
    If the umpire adjudges a delivery to be a Wide he shall call and signal Wide ball as soon as the ball passes the striker’s wicket. It shall, however, be considered to have been a Wide from the instant of delivery, even though it cannot be called Wide until it passes the striker’s wicket.

    But this raises a question which remains unanswered anywhere in the eight clauses and their sub-clauses: What if the ball is bowled so wide that it ends up far away on the boundary and never passes the striker’s wicket?

  63. Chappers said,

    October 26, 2015 @ 9:48 am


    I think the MCC's got us covered there:

    Basically, it's a No ball in that case. And probably 4 byes, although that seems a little harsh on the wicket-keeper…

  64. Graeme said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 8:43 am

    The meaning of sport, its experience, ineffability and rules seem to trump workaday linguistics, if the number of posts here is a guide.
    I'd recommend a recent BBC 5 special on being a blind sports fan.
    Given how dominant vision is in 'spectatorship', its intriguing to hear the passion of fans including many blind from birth. Who enjoy not just radio broadcasts (to me, a sighted person, still the most imaginative and flexible way of following a game). But who enjoy most of all being part of the vibe and tribalism of attending big games and who say they can follow much of the action based on reading the crowd noise.

    For those playing one upmanship on baseball vs cricket and the complexity of their rule books, remember we are living through another Rugby World Cup. I'm a legal prof of 20 years: I can't make head nor tail of the minutiae of Rugby refereeing. In fact neither can most fans I speak to. And yet we are told the best games of the tournament so far have been close matches where one side kicked four or five penalties (ie place kicks after an incomprehensible infringement). Without scoring any tries/touchdowns, the ostensible point of the game.

  65. BZ said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

    At a high level, soccer, hockey, and basketball are variations of the same game, so someone familiar with one of them would grasp the basics of the other two and figure out the rules by watching. But I'd like to suggest that tennis is actually the easiest of the popular sports to learn to understand from scratch.

  66. John Thayer Jensen said,

    October 27, 2015 @ 3:12 pm

    I have always felt there are three big classes of ball sport:

    1) Soccer, basketball, hockey – incomprehensible to me – basically, human Brownian motion

    2) Rugby, gridiron – uninteresting to me – mock armies in battle

    3) Cricket, baseball – I enjoy watching – ballet with balls


RSS feed for comments on this post