The Simple Cricket Dictionary




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With origins dating back to the 16th century, cricket has been around for centuries. And whilst its popularity has increased tenfold over its 500-year history, many still struggle to understand the somewhat complex terminology that players and commentators use. 

From ducks and ‘LBWs’ to creases and yorkers, it can leave everyone feeling slightly overwhelmed by cricket jargon. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered with our very own simple cricket dictionary. 

Cricket Equipment

Bails: Two small pieces of wood that sit on top of the stumps to form the ‘wicket’ – “The bails fell off the stumps after the ball hit them.”

Box: An item of equipment batsmen wear to protect their groin – “Don’t forget to wear your box, you don’t want to hurt the crown jewels.”

Cricket Ball: Cricket balls used in top-level cricket matches are made with a leather exterior and a cork core.

Cricket Bat: Cricket bats used in professional matches are most commonly made using English willow. For more information about cricket bats, please visit our comprehensive cricket bat buying guide.

Stump: One of the three vertical poles that the bails sit on – “They placed the bails on top of the stumps to signify the start of play.”

Pitch & Cricket Field Terminology

Boundary: The edge of the pitch – “He stopped the ball before it hit the boundary and went for four.”

Crease: Painted white lines at either end of the pitch which help determine where batsman and bowlers should stand – “The batsman stood at the crease waiting for the ball to be bowled.”

Leg Side: The side of the pitch behind the batsman as he goes to hit the ball – “He hit it over the leg side.” The “Leg side” of the pitch, is also sometimes referred to as the “on side”. 

Off Side: The side of the pitch in front of the batsman as he goes to hit the ball – “He hit the ball off side.”

Wicket: Can be one of three things; (1) a set of stumps and bails, (2) the pitch or (3) a term used when a batsman gets out – “(1) The batsman stood in front of the wicket, (2) it had been raining so the wicket didn’t look too good, (3) the bowler took three wickets in his innings.”

Batting Terminology

Batsman / Batswoman: One of two players on the batting team who is at the ‘crease’ or a player who specialises in batting – “He’s more of a batsman than a bowler.”

Bye: A run scored when the ball is not hit by the batsman or caught by the wicket keeper – “It’s missed everything, it’s gone for a bye.”

Century: A batsman scoring 100 runs in a game – “He celebrated scoring a century.”

Duck: When a batsman gets out without scoring any runs – “Zero runs and he’s out, he’s got a duck.”

Extra: A run scored without the batsman doing anything (can be a ‘bye’, ‘leg bye’, ‘penalty’, ‘wide’ and ‘no ball’) – “The batting team scored 220 including 17 extras.”

Four: A shot that hits the boundary and instantly scores four runs to the batting side – “He’s hit it for four there, no one is stopping that ball from touching the boundary.”

Free hit: In limited-overs cricket, a free hit is usually awarded to the batting team as a result of a no-ball (illegal bowling delivery). During the free-hit, the batsman cannot be given out by being bowled out, caught or LBW. A batter can however be run-out on a free hit.

Golden Duck: When a batsman gets out on the first ball faced – “Well that’s embarrassing, he’s been on the pitch for five seconds and is out with a golden duck.”

Half Century: A batsman scoring 50 runs in a game – “He celebrated scoring a half century.”

Innings: Each player or team’s turn to bat – “They scored 170 in their innings.”

LBW (Leg Before Wicket): When the batsman or batswoman stops the ball from hitting the wicket, by having his or her leg in front of it – “He’s got to be out, that was definitely an LBW.”

Leg Bye: A run scored when the ball comes off a batsman’s thigh pad or leg after he’s tried to play the ball – “He tried to hit it, but it hit him and has gone for a leg bye.”

Not out: “Not out” is a term used to represent that a batter has not been given out when the innings is complete.

Opening batsman or batswoman: The opening batsmen or batswomen are the first two batters of an innings. They are sometimes referred to as the “openers”. They are the first players to get a feel for the pitch and also face the new ball. It is their responsibility to get the innings off to a good start. 

Out: When a batsman has been dismissed from the pitch – “The balls been caught, he’s out.”

Runs: The way to score in cricket – “The winning team scored 267 runs.”

Six: A shot that goes over the boundary without touching the ground and instantly scores six runs – “Look at that shot, he’s definitely hit it for six.”

Switch Hit: A switch hit occurs when a batter swaps hands immediately before the ball is bowled by the bowler. For example, a right handed batsman can switch to left handed just as the bowler bowls. The switch hit was made popular by England player Kevin Pietersen and allows batters to target areas of the field bowlers weren’t expecting them to hit into.

Tail-Ender: A tail-ender is a lower-order batsman or batswoman who specialises in bowling and has relatively poor batting skills compared to those higher-up in the batting order. If a tail-ender scores more runs than expected, it’s sometimes referred to as the “tail wagging”.

Bowling Terminology

5-fer: Five wickets taken by a team or bowler – “The bowler took a 5-fer during his innings.”

10-fer: Ten wickets taken by a team or bowler – “The bowler took a 10-fer during his innings.”

Beamer: A beamer occurs when the ball is delivered towards the wickets at a height that passes above the batter’s waist. A beamer is considered dangerous and will result in a “no ball” or a “free hit” in twenty20 and one-day matches. 

Bouncer: When the bowler bowls a fast and short ball which comes up near the batsman’s head – “Woah, look at how quick that bouncer was, it nearly hit his head.”

Bowlers: A player who delivers the ball to the batting team or a player who specialises in bowling – “He never bats high, he’s a bowler.”

Bowled: A way for the batsman to be ‘out’, when the bowler’s ball hits the stumps and removes the bails – “The batsman left the pitch after being bowled.”

Death Bowler: death bowlers will bowl near the end of a match or innings and are skilled in executed bowls that make it difficult for the batting team to score any runs. 

Doosra: The Doosra is a controversial style of bowling that is delivered by an off-spinner bowler. The doosra aims to confuse the batter, in that it spins in the opposite direction to the bowler’s normal delivery. The doosra was invented by Pakistan bowler Saqlain Mushtaq during their 1999-2000 tour of Australia. 

Dot Ball: A ball bowled without any runs scored off it – “Nothing happened, he’s bowled a dot ball.”

Economy Rate: A bowler’s “economy rate” is determined by the average number of runs they concede per over they bowl.

Fast bowler: A fast bowler delivers the ball at high speed. By delivering the ball at a fast pace, the batsman must react quickly and predict the bounce accurately in a short space of time.

Googly: a Googly or “Wrong un” is a bowling delivery that appears like a normal “leg spinner” but actually turns towards the batter, rather than away. A googly is delivered out of the back of the hand.

Jaffa: A jaffa is a delivery that is virtually impossible to hit/play. A jaffa is normally, but not always executed by a fast bowler. The bowl may hit the stumps directly, or the batter may edge it and be caught out. 

Maiden: A maiden is an over that results in no runs being scored by the batting team.

No Ball: When the bowler bowls an illegal ball (can be overstepping the ‘crease’, bowling above waist height, throwing or having more than two fielders behind square on leg side) and the batting side is awarded one extra run and the ball has to be bowled again – “His front foot is over the crease, it’s a no ball.”

Over: An over consists of 6 legal deliveries or bowls – “The bowler took one wicket during his over.”

Spin Bowler: Bowlers who spin the ball using their fingers or wrists – “He’s definitely a spin bowler with that delivery.”

Seam Bowler: Bowlers who focus on bowling with seam movement – “He’s more of a seam bowler than a spin bowler.”

Wide: When a bowler bowls the ball wide of the wicket, giving the batting side an extra run – “The bowler’s bowled that wide, he’s going to back to bowl an extra ball.”

Yorker: When the bowler bowls a fast ball that typically lands close to the batsman’s feet making it difficult to hit – “It’s going to be tricky for the batsman to hit that.”

Fielding Terminology

Caught: A way for the batman to be ‘out’, when a fielder catches the ball without it bouncing – “They’ve caught him, he’s out.”

Gully: the gully is the position on the cricket field, where one of the slip-field stands. It is considered an attacking fielding position, behind the wicket keeper on the “off side”. 

Mis-field: A mis-field occurs when a fielder makes an error and fails to collect the ball cleanly. The fielder might drop the ball, or fumble the ball allowing the batting team to score additional runs.

Run Out: When a batsman gets ‘out’ by the opposition hitting the wicket whilst he’s outside the crease – “What a great bit of fielding, he’s been run out.”

Slip: Positions of fielders, the ‘first slip’ being next to the wicket-keeper – “Move into the slip, we can catch this ball.”

Wicket Keeping Terminology

Stumped: When a batsman gets ‘out’ by the wicket-keeper hitting the wicket with the ball when the batsman is outside his crease – “That was an easy one, he’s been stumped.”

Wicket Keeper: The player on the fielding side who stands directly behind the batting end wickets – “The wicket keeper stumped the batsman to get him out.”


All-rounder: An all rounder is a cricket player who has a high level of skill in both batting and bowling. 

Duckworth–Lewis–Stern Method: Used in limited-overs cricket by the team batting second, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method (or “DLS” for short), is a mathematical formula that is used to calculate the number of runs required to score in order to win. This is required when a team will be unable to complete their full number of overs because of factors such as weather delays. 

ODI (One Day International): An international match which takes no more than one day to be played and is limited to 50 overs per innings – “England are playing Windies in an ODI today.”

T20: A match where each team has an innings of 20 overs – “Lancashire are playing Yorkshire in a T20 game tonight.”

Test Match: A match played over five days with unlimited overs – “India have a test match against Pakistan next week.”

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 By: Andrew Griffiths

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