ENGLISCH/821: Questions to Mrs. Gobbledygook (151) Sensational cricket (SB)


151. Boycott scored 22 centuries

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

...Never heard such a nonsense in my life. "Boycott scored twenty two centuries", said the man in the radio, who is supposed to be a sports commentator but left this statement entirely unexplained. I am very upset about this useless piece of information, that the listener is supposed to find out by himself, and I will never listen to that program again.

Yours sincerely,

Alfred Gscheidle (from Stuttgart, Germany)


Dear Mr Gscheidle

Thank you so much for your kind letter. Please accept my apologies for not having answered your letter earlier but I was not quite sure whether or not you simply sent it to the wrong address. Considering you complaint a request I am writing to let you know the good news that ... there is a simple key to your lack of information. You were listening to a sports program. Anyway, to return to your question "Boycott scored 22 centuries" and supposing that you are not very familiar with cricket, I should explain that "Boycott" is a very famous cricketer, and if you score a century you score one hundred runs.

Furthermore I should explain that cricket is very popular and therefore one of the most British sports in Britain and the British Commonwealth, but only here. It seems that nobody in other countries can understand it!

There is an old English saying:

On the continent, people think that life is a game.
In England, they think that cricket is a game.

But if you ask an American, "How do you play cricket?", he or she will probably answer you something like:

"A lot of people in white clothes come on to a field.
Nothing happens.
It starts to rain.
Everyone has a cup of tea until the rain stops.
They come on to the field again.
Nothing happens.
Everyone says: 'That was a good match, wasn't it?' and goes home happy."

Now, how do you actually play cricket? To put it in a nutshell, there are eleven men - or sometimes women - in a cricket team. You need two teams for a match. There are two men with bats. They are the batsmen and they are in one team (we'll call it Team A). All the other players that you can see are in the other team, Team B.

The man who is running towards the wicket has got the ball. He is Team B's bowler. In a moment he is going to throw (or 'bowl') the ball along the pitch to the batsman. He is trying to hit the wicket behind the batsman with the ball. If he is lucky he will. But ...

The batsman is going to try to hit the ball with his bat. If he can hit it far enough, he can run from his own wicket to the one near the bowler and score a point (it is called a run - and in your case Boycott scored 2.200 of it). He has to arrive there before the players in Team B can get the ball, throw it back, and touch it on the wicket.

When the first batsman starts to run, the second has to run, too. (They cross in the middle of the pitch). The second batsman is now where the first one was, and next time the bowler will bowl the ball to him.

If the bowler can hit the wicket with the ball when he bowls, the batsman is out: he has to leave the pitch and the next player from Team A comes on. A batsman is also out, if he hits the ball into the air and a player catches it in his hands.

When all the men in Team A have batted, it is Team B's turn. The game ends when the players of Team B have finished (when they are all 'out'). The team with the most points wins the match.

Being such a popular sport there have been a lot of matches between unusual teams. In one, all the men in one team were left- handed, and all the men in the other right-handed. The 'Ugly Men' have played the 'Handsome Men' and of course teams of men have played teams of women. Perhaps the most unusual match was between two teams of old men in London. All the men in one team had only one leg and all the men in the other team only one arm. This was due to the famous British sense of humour.

Go for a drink in a London pub and you will hear lots of stories about cricket: Or did you know that during a cricket match in Manchester, a batsman hit a ball which arrived in Liverpool forty kilometres away. The ball landed in a train which was travelling past the cricket pitch and the train carried the ball to Liverpool.

In a match in Australia, the bowler bowled the ball, it hit a box of matches in the batsman's pocket and his trousers caught fire.

Some bowlers bowl the ball very fast. The fastest can bowl it at more than one hundred and fifty kilometres per hour.

All this is hard to believe but true. Hope I could help you with the piece of information you were missing.


Mrs Gobbledygook

15 December 2008