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Editorial NR

Cricket and Baseball

Specific words and terms used in these two games are in BOLD in each text below. The meanings will become very clear when you watch the videos.


Cricket was invented in England. It has been played since the 16th century and the game spread throughout the world during the expansion of the British Empire. There are 42 complicated Laws or rules, but basically the game is played between two teams each made up of 11 players. The bowler from the fielding team bowls the ball to the batsman from the batting team who tries to hit the ball with their bat. The batsman scores a run by hitting the ball and running one full length of the pitch between the wickets before the fielders can hit the wickets with the ball. Each team takes turns at batting and fielding/bowling. The team with the most runs wins. Now watch this short, 2-minute video which clearly explains the game:

Cricket is similar to baseball but it is traditionally played over a number of days rather than on one day.


Baseball is played between two teams of nine players who each have nine innings. The pitcher throws a ball towards the batter who scores runs by hitting the ball and running around the four bases in a counterclockwise direction. They are then called runners and try to reach the bases. If a player reaches the base before the ball, they are ‘safe’. This can be done all in one go or in stages, remaining safe on a base until the next hitter comes. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the ninth inning wins the game. Now watch this short video which clearly explains


There are many very common words and expressions in everyday English that come from cricket and baseball. You do not have to know this or understand the games to use them. Native speakers use these words and expressions all the time, often without being aware of their origins. Here are a few examples and their meanings.


Since cricket is a very British sport it is not surprising that these words and expressions are more commonly used in British English.

TO HAVE HAD A GOOD INNINGS: said about somebody who has died to mean they enjoyed a long and fulfilling life.

TO HIT / KNOCK SOMEBODY FOR SIX: to surprise or shock somebody.

TO BE BOWLED OVER: to be astonished or impressed by something.

TO BE STUMPED: to have no idea what to say or how to solve a problem.

TO DO SOMETHING OFF ONE’S OWN BAT: to do something spontaneously, because it’s your own idea rather than being told to do it.

A STICKY WICKET: a difficult or awkward situation.

TO CATCH SOMEBODY OUT: to put somebody in a difficult position for which they are not prepared.

TO THROW SOMEBODY A GOOGLY: to present someone with a question or piece of information that is surprising or unexpected.

ON THE BACK FOOT: at a disadvantage, in a weaker position or in difficulty.


TO HIT A HOME RUN: to do something that is very successful.

A BALLPARK FIGURE: an approximate number or estimate.

TO STRIKE OUT: to fail to achieve a desired result.

TO THROW A CURVEBALL: to surprise someone with an unexpected challenge.

TO TOUCH BASE: to briefly make or renew contact with someone.

ON THE BALL: attentive, knowledgeable and quick to take action.

TO PLAY HARDBALL: to act aggressively and ruthlessly.

TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE: to take responsibility for doing something in response to an opportunity or crisis.

RIGHT OFF THE BAT: instantly, immediately, without delay.

About author

Jack Scholes is the author of many books, including Slang – Gírias Atuais do Inglês, Modern Slang and Slang Activity Book. He is also co-author with Jane Revell of Sucesso nos Exames. His most recent publications are Inglês Rápido, Quick Brazilian Portuguese and Why do we say that? Por que dizemos isso?. All published by Disal Editora
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