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Outs not wickets? Linguistic leg-spin won’t make people fall in love with cricket | Daniel Harris

Cricket is profoundly and uniquely loveable – the Hundred’s organisers must retain their confidence in its magnificence

All sports develop idiosyncratic lexicons, word games that allow us to understand their peculiarities and particularities. But there is more to it than that: once we understand the various terms, we join a global community and eternal continuum which makes us feel spoken to and seen. Joining such fellowship is one of the great, nourishing moments of childhood, and passing it on one of the great, nourishing moments of adulthood, the real-life equivalent of “seeing it big”.

In this aspect, no sport is as arcane as cricket, its vernacular describing not just a fun pastime but a moral project. The game has long been equated with honesty and rectitude – consider the phrase “it’s just not cricket” – in which spirit its relationship to colonialism and classism cannot be ignored. The game has long been used to exemplify the civilised fair play which Britain’s ruling class obliviously ascribed to itself, so this dimension was baked into its laws like conventions in an unwritten constitution; kerfuffles over “walking” and “mankading” exist solely because the drafting permits them to, and have since evolved into sneering portrayals of incompetence – “filth” – and innovation – “proper cricket shot”.

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