December 03, 2006

Horse 679 - It's a "Silly" Place

The genteel game of cricket has a patchwork quilt of phrase and fable that both borrows from and adds back to the colours of the English language. Frequently we can hear people in regular conversation say that they're "stumped" or have been "hit for six". The game itself has stolen phrases from elsewhere, no-one particularly likes fielding "in Cow Corner" for instance.

What may confuse non-followers of the game are those close in positions around the batsman called Silly. During the Second Test this afternoon Jim Maxwell told us that there were: 2 Slips and a Gully, a Point and a Cover Point, an Extra Cover, Backward Square Leg, Mid-On, Long-On and no players in Silly Positions - to which my sister asked "aren't they all silly? I think the whole game is stupid."

Perhaps fielding in a Silly Position is an apt description of the level of the intelligence of someone standing there but if you look at the original definition of the word, perhaps this starts to make some sort of sense.

Silly was originally a description of a thing in a helpless or defenceless state. From this we extend this to either an indefensible state of explanation or a one lacking good sense. A silly state can either refer to being stunned ot dazed or lacking intelligence. So therefore a fielder in a Silly Position is both defenceless (especially when the ball is moving at them at +120mph), lacking intelligence or otherwise they would not stand there and if whacked with the ball would then be dazed. All of which satisfy the very definition of the word.

Silly by 3 counts.

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