Monday 17 November 2008

Cricket and Cryptic Crosswords: Part I

Hugh Stephenson, the crossword editor of The Guardian, draws a fascinating parallel between cricket and cryptic crosswords in this article :

"They are both governed by laws that are arcane; they heavily depend on convention and gentlemanly conduct; they are totally unintelligible to people who don't play the game themselves, even after long and patient explanation; they can be over quite quickly or drag on for ever, and still end in a draw. With both, playing the game is the thing, rather than the result."

Leaving aside debates on that interesting premise, the fact remains that cryptic crosswords reference cricket a good deal. So much so that familiarity with cricket is almost a prerequisite for mastery over the puzzle.

Coming up here is a series of articles about clues that involve cricket. Clues with bowling references in the solutions, to start with.


cricket-crosswords-bowling Bowler is the player who throws the ball to the batsman. Bowler is also a kind of hat.

If you see a clue with both cricket and hat in it, there's probably a BOWLER in the answer.

This double-definition, a slightly oblique one, defines the word in both these senses.
ET 3022: Cover for one making deliveries (6) BOWLER [2]

...and here are clues that qualify bowlers.

Times 23648: Cricketer, first to purchase excellent hat (4,6) P ACE BOWLER
Times 23796: He's quick to put top hat on president's head (4,6) P ACE BOWLER

Note that the wordplay in the above pair of clues is near-identical: (i) First letter of a word starting with P (ii) A word to define ACE (iii) 'hat' to mean BOWLER.The second is tougher to solve of course, with its indirect definition and rearrangement of charade components.

Another pair of cryptic definition clues, from different publications by different setters, but very alike.

Guardian 24208: He's in no hurry to take over (4, 6) SLOW BOWLER [CD]
THC 8522: He's quick to take over (4,6) FAST BOWLER [CD]

More bowling references - bowler names and bowling-related activities in the solution:
THC 8957: Pace bowler who could reportedly restrain boy (5) TY{~tie} SON
Times 23862: Approach ladder - then where to go? (3-2) RUN UP [CD]
THC 8893: One way of dismissing a cricket batsman said to be brave (6) BOWLED{~bold}

Related Posts:

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