Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cricket Humour

In my opinion, no game other than cricket has the ability to produce incidents that are humourous. I hope not many will disagree! There are many on and off the field incidents and jokes that have been recorded in various places - in autobiographies, media, articles, books, magazines etc. Humour adds to the fun and makes playing all the more enjoyable. That's what the game is there for! Over many years of my not-too-voracious reading, I have collected a few and here they are. In the days esp. up to the 20th century, there seems to have been more incidents of fun rather than controversies triggered from on-field banter, esp. involving Australia [the present 2008 series with India Down Under]. So my small collection dates back to the days of yore.

Here they are: [I've given a title for each one of them]

Fine job:

One day, the great leg-spinner ‘Tich’ Freeman was bowling so badly that he was being hit all over the ground. After one such over his captain told ‘Tich’ that he was doing a fine job and having the batsmen in two minds – whether to hit for a six or a four!


Facing fast bowler Ray Lindwall for the first time Johnny Wardle’s bat was shaking in his hands as he took guard. “Now come on what do you want?” asked Ray. “A slow full toss down the leg side please.” came Wardle’s reply.

Long run:

Roly Thompson of Warwickhshire used to take an unnecessarily long run to bowl. Joe Hardstaff told “He takes such a long run that you are out of form by the time he reaches the stumps.”

Staying tactic:

In an England-Australia match, Ray Lindwall was bowling to a new batsman who knew that he would not survive the fury of Lindwall, decided to at least spend some time at the crease. He wanted the sight-screen to be adjusted. He was not satisfied with any position of the screen even after five minutes. The umpires got furious and asked him where exactly he wanted the screen. “In between myself and Lindwall” came the batsman’s witty reply.

Dropped catches:

On the famous occasion when Victoria amassed 1107 runs against NSW for whom Arthur Mailey was bowling, his figures were 4 for 362. He said afterwards “I should have had even better figures if a bloke in a brown trilby hat in the sixth row of the pavilion roof hadn’t dropped three sitters.”

But, is he out?

During an Indian tour of New Zealand an umpire was declining every appeal by the Indians. B.S.Chandrasekhar once bowled a batsman and appealed “Howzzaat?” The umpire retorted “Can’t you see he is bowled?” Chandra asked “ I know, but is he out?”


Australian captain Bill Lawry, the world knew, was no ‘walker’ when it came to being ‘out’. Once he was declared caught behind but stood his ground till first slip shouted “Move it Bill, waiting for a bus or something?”

Frequent appealing:

Ashley Mallett had the habit of appealing rather too often till umpire Cecil Pepper told him quietly “You will never die wondering, son”

Famous spoonerism:

Denis Compton, a fine commentator after his playing era, often got tongue-tied over cricketers’ names. The man who suffered most at his hands [or tongue] was Alan Connolly, the Australian quickie. Compton always announced him as ‘Anal Colony’, despite repeated corrections!

Hope realized:

When the bald Brian Close announced his retirement, a gushing reporter asked “Well Closey, have any of your childhood hopes been realized?” Close quipped “Yes, when my mother used to pull my hair, I wished I didn’t have any.”

Bad patch:

Once, JWHT Douglas was in a ‘bad patch’. In a match he was just blocking the balls. Someone in the crowd shouted “Johnny Won’t Hit Today.” referring to his initials.

Not out:

When another LBW appeal was negative, Fred Trueman, the bowler asked the umpire icily “I think that’d have hit the bloody wicket. Where do you think it would have hit, huh?” “How the heck should I know? The batsman’s leg was in the way.” replied the unruffled gentleman!

Biggest hit:

When asked which was the biggest ever hit made by Gilbert Jessop himself he was fond of saying “The one that went from Beccles to London.” A reference to a ball he had once hit into a railway truck passing by!

Grand piano

A batsman had played and missed a number of times. Someone in the crowd shouted “Send him down a grand piano and see if he can play that.”

Fear of Typhoon

During a Test Match in Australia when a particular Australian batsman was going out to fact Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson, he was so nervous that he could not close the latch of the pavilion gate after him. A voice from the crowd shouted “Leave it open buddy, you won’t be long.”

Worthy bruises:

During the ‘Bodyline’ series Bill Ponsford frequently turned his back and let the ball hit him on his backside or shoulders was once bowled by behind his legs by Bill Voce to a ball that did not rise as he expected. This was at Adelaide where he made a courageous 85 and reckoned his bruises were worth 2-10-0 each. The Australians were paid 30 shillings per Test.

Which is Hobbs?

In 1920, JWHT Douglas led the Englishmen on to the Melbourne field for the first time in 8 years. Most were of average height, including Hobbs, the world’s premier batsman of that time. So an onlooker called “Which is Hobbs?” A barracker’s instant reply: “The one in white pants.”

Taste of own medicine:

Arthur Carr, the Notts captain had encouraged Larwood and Voce to bowl bodyline in several matches. Carr himself once fell flat on his posterior in dodging a bouncer from Surrey’s Maurice Allom, saying as he got up, “This is no way to play cricket.”

Testing Cricket:

The most famous cricket ignoramus was probably George Bernard Shaw, who on being told that England won the Australian Tests asked “What have they been testing?”


Notts ‘keeper Tour Oates was happy to become an umpire at the end of his playing career, when in one of his early matches as umpire at the bowler’s end saw the batsman hit squarely on the pads. “Owzzaat?” he shouted, filled with sudden excitement! “Out” said the bowler. And out it was!

Coffee apartheid:

During the 1970-71 World XI vs Australia series, Clive Lloyd was having black coffee. Richard Hutton remarked, “Don’t be racial, have some milk too!”

Radio-active Rohan:

During the 1970-71 World XI vs Australia series at Perth, Rohan Kanhai was yet again hit on the chest. When he came back after an X-ray, he was greeted by Richard Hutton with the remark “Don’t come near me with all the X-rays you’ve taken so far, you must be radio- active!”

Most garbled call:

In a letter the “The Times” in 1935, Mr. Charles Ponsonby wrote “I was playing in a match last year, and as the bowler delivered the ball the umpire muttered “B-v-v-v..” and after a sudden pause, added “I beg your pardon, I meant to say no-ball. But I dropped my teeth!”

Cunning Grace:

Bobby Abel was all set for a ton, on 96 at lunch. The fielding captain Dr.W.G.Grace told Abel that he’d help him reach his century by bowling a slow full toss just after lunch. Abel happily hit the ball from Dr.Grace not knowing he had a fieldsman placed on the mid-wicket boundary for that very purpose, only to be caught easily. Abel while walking back grumbled at Grace that he was a ‘big old toad’.

Handsome Hendren:

There was a rumour that an English team was picked merely on the players’ good looks. Later when Patsy Hendren was fielding on the boundary, someone asked him on what grounds he was picked. Hendren replied “On good looks!” A fine batsman that he was, he was certainly undeserving to be listed there!

Grace ball:

Once, Dr.W.G.Grace was a guest player against a village team. Their fast bowler uprooted Grace’s , middle stump first ball. Grace fixed a piercing eye on him and said “That was a very good trial ball, and now let’s begin.”


In the match between Sussex and West Indies at Hove, N.I.Thomson hit a ball from Valentine to leg and a black dog bounded on the field, seized the ball and carried it over the boundary, hotly pursued by players and umpires. The four runs were credited to Thomson, not the dog.


Before the start of the 1970-71 World XI vs Australia series Perth “Test”, the World XI players had gone to have a look at the wicket. England’s Richard Hutton threw the ball on the wicket and when it bounced back, he quipped “Eh, it came back! At Leeds it would have got stuck!”

Thompson’s catch:

Long ago, a batsman lifted the ball high into the clouds. A few fieldsmen got underneath it in an attempt to catch it. Suddenly, someone shouted “Leave it to Thompson.” None tried to catch it and the ball fell in a ‘forest of legs’. Thompson was not playing!

Monkey tricks:

In a country match in some English village, Dr.W.G.Grace had made 20 runs or so when he played out at a ball and missed it. The local ‘keeper snapped up the ball, whipped off the bails and screamed at the umpire in appeal. The umpire said “Not out, and look ee’re, young fellow, the crowd has come to see Doctor Grace and not any of your monkey tricks.”

Give it back in the same coin:

Eric Hollies [the bowler who bowled Bradman in his last Test innings] to a barracker in Australia who had asked sarcastically “Do they still bury their head in Birmingham?” The barracker replied “No, they stuff them and send ‘em out here.”

Australian creatures:

During the Ashes series in England, Norman Yardley the England captain got a letter from an old woman like this: “I have no interest in cricket and I do not care who wins. But the other day, quite by accident, I listened for a few minutes to the Test Match commentator. He said that someone or something called Lindwall bowling. It sounded purely a name to me, but when he proceeded to say this bowler had two long legs, one short fine leg, I was shocked. Tell me Mr.Yardley, what kind of creatures are these Australian cricketers? No wonder our Englishmen can’t win!” [From a book “Too many legs”]

Bert's batting reputation:

Bert Ironmonger, not the best of batsmen, had just gone in to bat when his wife rang up and wanted to speak to him. The room attendant said “I’m sorry, Bert has just gone in to bat” Mrs.Ironmonger replied “Don’t worry, I’ll hang on, he won’t be long.”

Not only these, there are many places where cricket humour, jokes and whatnot are available. Some of them for you in one place:

Humour at cricinfo

[some lovely jokes here]

[lists some 250 of them!]

Indian cricket jokes

[Roy Ullyett's cartoon celebrating Jim Laker's 19 wickets in 1956]

[off subject... look at the items that are in auction!]

Arthur Mailey, the famous Australian leg spinner was a famous cartoonist too. Here is one featuring the cover of a book.

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