Jiggery Pokery

by Harry on October 3, 2010

I’ve been enjoying Duckworth Lewis Method (UK) with the kids for months now. To be honest I had never even heard of Pugwash before, and The Divine Comedy was just a name on a bunch of posters, not a band/person I knew anything about, so it took me a while to get hold of the album. But it is fabulous, full of catchy tunes, melancholic reflection on the game, and sometimes wry humour. For a while my youngest knew the whole of “Meeting Mr Miandad” by heart. My favourite is “Mason on the Boundary”, which somehow makes me think of the last time I was at the Parks (with Swift and my dad), when I caught glimpse of an elderly man in an MCC tie, whose name tag revealed him to be the godfather of a childhood friend, someone whose exploits around the commonwealth were the stuff of legend in said friend’s family. Almost certainly most of it working for her majesty, if you know what I mean. I didn’t say “hi”. There’s even an indirect tribute to CLR James (in “The Age of Revolution”). That the two best books about cricket are by North American marxists is just about ok; that the best songs are by two Irishmen is odd.

Anyway, my eldest daughter, the only one who has watched a lot of cricket, and who was for a while a fan of a certain leg spinner, laughed out loud when she got to the end of “Jiggery Pokery” for the first time. A whole song about a single ball? Gatting must be mortified. And now, with the approval of Mr Duckworth and Mr Lewis, a 14 year old girl called Claire has made an animated video for it.

And here, though you have to wait a bit (30 seconds in), is the ball in question:



Tim Wilkinson 10.03.10 at 6:19 pm


Phil 10.03.10 at 7:20 pm

Apparently he was actually out for 4, but “out for a buggering duck” works so much better.


JulesLt 10.03.10 at 8:28 pm

It seems to have regenerated Neil Hannon’s muse too; the latest Divine Comedy album has two of the best songs I’ve heard in response to the banking crisis.


Antti Nannimus 10.03.10 at 9:54 pm


For many decades, “jiggery pokery” has been one of my favorite, most useful phrases. This (to me) new phrase, “spin balling” also has some great and useful promise.

And thank you, now I also think I might even begin to understand this strange game a little bit. I haven’t even started to process “buggering duck” yet though.

Have a nice day,


clanwilliam 10.03.10 at 11:36 pm

Sheer brilliance. I can’t quite decide my favourite bit – having Neil Hannon in as Gatting, the unmistakable Warne, the surprise angelic appearance by Thomas “Ducky” Walsh, but really, the absolute best bit was the baboons.

Huge congratulations to Claire – her age has nothing to do with this, really, because it’s a sublimely funny video of a sublimely funny song.

Oh, and thanks to a Duckworth Lewis gig, I have been informed that Mike Gatting’s official response is “Don’t mention that *bleep* song!” (The bleep is left to our imaginations.)


John Meredith 10.04.10 at 10:46 am

The West Indies count As North America?


Harry 10.04.10 at 11:07 am

Sort of. Note that he spent a very large fraction of his adult life in the US, too, though.


jaybee 10.04.10 at 11:59 am

Excellent lyrics. They may have had to play around with Gatting’s score but they managed to incorporate Graham Gooch’s line which really is the definitive comment on the subject


JM 10.04.10 at 5:49 pm

And for those of you who don’t like sport, there’s sport.


Philip 10.04.10 at 8:18 pm

Antti, that new phrase should be “spin bowling”.


Stuart 10.04.10 at 8:24 pm

And now, with the approval of Mr Duckworth and Mr Lewis, a 14 year old girl called Claire has made an animated video for it.

Nice animation, although the ball was hitting the top of middle in it, rather than the off stump. Gatting would be even more embarrassed if that ball had hit middle stump.


Tim Wilkinson 10.04.10 at 8:49 pm

And for those of you who don’t like sport, there’s sport.

Surely: ‘for those of you who don’t like sport, there’s the splendidly, perversely un-‘sport’-like game of test cricket’?

I mean, does ‘tea’ sound like a sporting term to you? The helmets and gloves are apparently designed (as they need to be for the sake of the game) not to protect the players properly, the game depends on degradation of the equipment and playing area, there is precise legislation on the use of sweat and saliva, the terminology is entertainingly bizarre (‘wicket’ means two entirely different things), and on average (I haven’t actually analysed this; I’m not even particularly inclined to think it’s true), games that end in a draw are more exciting than those which don’t.

Baffling subtlety and variety, rules which are not understood even by top-flight professional umpires, little need for great physical fitness (at least until the recent emergence of overscheduling and po-faced ‘professionalism’), the fact that the basic skill of co-ordinating running between the wickets continues to elude top professionals with entertainingly silly consequences, radio commentary that is arguably better than actually watching the game and is often more concerned with pigeons than with what is happening on the field of play (and incorporates whole days during which no play occurs)…

If this is sport, it’s unlike any other. Certainly one of the reasons I like it, as an enemy of Sport in general, is its peculiarly anti-sport nature. It is in the finest rackshackle, amateurish and ludicrous (I use the term advisedly) Heath Robinson tradition that forms such a pervasive and, dare I say it, endearing (for something has to be) part of the English national self-image. The whole existence of this post, including the (I agree) excellent lyrics and video, perhaps reflect this too.

Certainly, cricket is a source of an amazing number of commonplace phrases in English English usage. Swings both ways, sticky wicket, caught out, knocked for six, deadbatting, stumped, bowled over etc etc (well, ‘certainly’ is probably going a bit far).


Neil 10.05.10 at 1:54 am

Tim Wilkinson: “The helmets and gloves are apparently designed (as they need to be for the sake of the game) not to protect the players properly”.

I’ve never heard that. Where do you get it from?


Tim Wilkinson 10.05.10 at 12:41 pm

I just made it up! Jiggery pokery!

Though it’s true the helmets don’t seem to adequately protect the face – every time everyone gets hit on the visor, they get hurt; and it’s a bit unclear why players get broken and badly bruised fingers (as I think still happens – maybe I’m making that up) when they are wearing specially designed gloves. And it’s also true that the game would be pro tanto worse if batsmen had no fear of being hit by fast balls.


Tim Wilkinson 10.05.10 at 12:45 pm

And btw, apologies, I didn’t mean to ridicule the game at all, only to celebrate its eccentricities – got a bit carried away there.


Twisted_Colour 10.06.10 at 7:18 am



You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

P.S. Why does the spell check for these comments tell me I spelled “colour” incorrectly?


James Conran 10.07.10 at 4:21 am

“‘wicket’ means two entirely different things”

I think it means at least three quite distinct things:

1) The pitch (as in “they have very flat wickets in Australia”)

2) The whole of which the stumps and bails are the constituent parts (as in “to hit one’s own wicket”)

3) Most abstractly, but also most commonly, the thing the batsman has and the bowler wants to get (“Warne took Gatting’s wicket” or “Australia need wickets now”)

None of these will be much help in working out where in the the field “mid-wicket” is however.

Great album.


maidhc 10.07.10 at 7:42 am

That’s a nice animation. Is she really only 14? Very impressive. We can expect quite a future for her.


Quasilobachevski 10.07.10 at 10:26 pm

Tim – that was a wonderful evocation of what’s so great about cricket. Thank you.


P.S. Why does the spell check for these comments tell me I spelled “colour” incorrectly?

It’s not the comments, it’s your browser. You need to install an English dictionary, instead of one of those American ones.


James Conran 10.08.10 at 1:20 am

I also greatly enjoyed that Tim.


Tim Wilkinson 10.08.10 at 4:12 am

Muttered thanks x2

& @17 good (maybe not deep, but certainly not backward) point re: ‘wicket’. The sense overlooked, oddly, was in fact no. 3 – as in ‘you have to take twenty wickets to win’ . Though as any pedant no, that’s actually untrue for at least (note philosopher’s hedge this time) two reasons. Not to count the gifting of wickets by handle, obstruct or tarry…


James Conran 10.08.10 at 5:09 am

Retired hurt would be one reason. Declaration the second.

And naturally you don’t need to take any wickets at all to win in the limited overs versions of the game.


Anand Manikutty 10.09.10 at 10:20 am

@ James Conran : I think it means at least three quite distinct things.

There are at least three additional meanings for the word “wicket”, it turns out (thank you, Wikipedia):

1. A partnership within an innings. e.g. the fifth wicket, the seventh wicket, et cetera. (“Tendulkar and Sehwag open India’s innings, and perhaps are the best first wicket partnership in the game today.”)
2. Winning by a certain number of “wickets” refers to, oh well, you know what it refers to. (“India won by 1 wicket and retain their position as the rightful owners of the top ranking in the Test Championship.”)
3. A dismissal or more precisely, the event constituting a batsmen being declared “out” and forfeiting the chance to bat further in the inning. (“That’s another wicket for Kapil, and while there may be no such thing as *the* ball of the century, the Quality of a ball being an n-dimensional entity, that one would certainly qualify as an outlier.”)

We are obviously trying to be really precise and exact here, and so in the interest of accuracy, I would also note that under certain conditions (thank you again, Wikipedia), a wicket may not have bails. If the playing conditions are too windy for the game to be played with bails on top of the wickets, the umpires have the discretion to have the game played without bails. Bails are, oddly enough, not a necessary component of the wicket.

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