Rituals rules and superstitions


Virdi misses a straight one!

Day 3 of possibly and hopefully the last day/night pink ball experiment in the County Championship at the Oval sees Surrey trying to eke out a large a lead as possible and to occupy the crease for as long a possible so that Lancashire face whatever additional challenges the pink ball lottery brings once the sun starts to sink. Different balls in each division has tended towards the second division pink matches seeing very low scores and a ‘no contest’ or one-sided contest as soon as it starts to get dark but this has not tended to be the case in the first division. Nonetheless the scores here are on the low side and a century would be a thing to behold!

By ‘lunch’ Surrey had reached 278/8 – a lead of 242 which is probably not enough; chasing anything over 300 here would be a challenge but a contest for each side. Another knockabout partnership between Morkel and Dernbach has brought some level of respectability and a 50 partnership before Virdi fails to spot a straight one and is bowled ‘neck and crop’ as Surrey make 306 – Lancashire need 271 to win in four, almost five sessions – potentially two of those under lights. However, they take off a such a rate that a finish today is a possibility.

As Surrey take the field, the ritual of having the umpires leading the players on to the field as if some village elders or judges in procession strikes me as just one of the many rituals, rules and superstitions that have developed into the game over the centuries; some progressed into laws whilst others are custom and practice. It’s always an interesting concept for non-cricketers that the way the game is played is governed by laws and not by rules. Rules can be bent and broken but laws are just the latter – broken or observed…not half way house!

So here goes for those I could think of whilst watching the match unfold:

  • A break for lunch and tea – the inner ‘man’ needs feeding for such a long game!
  • Umpires lead the players onto the field at the start of play
  • Batsmen lead the players off at the formal breaks
  • A ritual seen this year more than ever is the one-field checking of bat widths (there is a law about bat width but until this year not ever seen to be checked so closely)
  • The courtesy of being told when the bowling is being changed or the bowler is changing from round to over the wicket
  • Rain and bad light – rituals all of their own!
  • To walk or not walk – common courtesy or…?
  • Unwritten rule that spectators don’t move between deliveries (if only!)
  • Umpires checking mid-over regarding the number of balls bowled – again more prevalent this season
  • Rule that you don’t bowl a beamer
  • White clothing used to be part of the ritual but players now revert to both coloured and white (the game was originally played in coloured clothing…it’s only the Victorians who changed it!)
  • Applause for any 50, 100, 150 in whatever it may be – perhaps not for bowling figures though…
  • Fast bowlers ‘union’ – respect not to bowl too fast at the corresponding fast bowler on the other team
  • One off the mark in benefit games
  • Awarding a county cap as a mark of ‘arriving’ as a first XI player (and also corresponding increase in salary!)
  • Rolling the pitch – for 7 mins 30 seconds – no more, no less!
  • Idiosyncrasies of players – Morkel running in a circle, Anderson smoothing his hair, Steve Smith fidgeting in order, Burns bobbing, Trott and Tavare walking to square leg, Stewart twizzling his bat…and so forth
  • Superstitions – get dressed in the same order…left pad, right pad, right boot…; same seat in the dressing room every day/match; not moving from your seat once a partnership has developed so you don’t break the spell!; feet off the ground whenever 111 or a multiple is on the scoreboard or 87 if you’re Australian – there is not statistical evidence to support either numbers, it’s just superstition
  • And finally…you’re only out if the opposition appeal!

But the game progresses – Davies is off as if he has a train to catch and falls for a swift 35, Hameed’s season still stalls and just doesn’t get going and is gone for 20.

Virdi works his magic whilst Dernbach is forced from the field with an injury sustained on the first day and with Curran S also sidelined for a little time, Surrey were constrained to three front line bowlers…but they all stuck to their task!

Virdi works his magic
Dernbach looks pained in his warm-up routine

Vilas goes for a ‘doubtful’ lbw – but that’s what it looked like from the boundary and so forth.


By the close, Surrey have made inroads into the middle order whilst Lancashire only need another 90 or so to win and enforce a first loss for Surrey this season.

Day 4 should be intriguing if not a full day!



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