Cricket passage from an Aubrey/Maturin novel - can anyone explain?

I know absolutely nothing about cricket - can anyone explain what is going on in this passage from “The Fortune of War” by Patrick O’Brian?

Apparently Stephen knows as much about cricket as you, confusing it with hurling.

As he comes out to bat he’s being encouraged to play defensively and let Jack get all the runs. Apparently he’s the last batsman for his side and if he gets out before they match the opposing side’s total the hundred pound wager goes to them.

When the ball is bowled to him Stephen hits it along the ground for a while, scoops it up, catches it in his other hand and then hit it into Jack’s wicket.

In doing so he’s out at least twice (hit the ball twice, handled the ball),and even if he weren’t Jack would be out if Jack had left his crease when Stephen hit his wicket with the ball.

I guess in baseball terms the play would be something like: 2 outs in the ninth innings trailing by 1 run with a runner on third. The batter stops the pitch dead with his bat, picks it up and then runs into the outfield, turns and hits the ball straight to the third baseman.

Right - there’s an earlier passage where Stephen reflects that he’s never actually seen a cricket match, but from the descriptions he’s gotten, it sounds like the hurling he used to play at Trinity. He’s too proud to admit he knows nothing about the game, and Jack is too sensitive to question him, even when he sees the hurly Stephen carved from the deadly upas tree. He meant to watch the early part of the match between the Leopards and the Cumberlands before he was up to bat(?), but was called away - that’s why poor Forshaw had to retrieve him. Had he seen it, hopefully he would have figured out some of the rules of the game.

What does the ‘Should you like to be given a middle, sir?’ question mean?

Upas woodseems a good choice to use - its density is similar to Willow.

The umpire is asking if he’d like to be told where the middle of his wicket is. The new batsman stands with his bat upright on the ground on the crease and the umpire tells him when he’s in line with middle stump. Many batsman mark a line in the crease so they set themselves up properly in line with the wicket.

ETA here are some diagramswhich may help.

Untrue on the last count. For a batsman to be run out a fielder must have touched the ball (though he need only have made contact and does not have to have influenced the direction of the ball).

Note that in the early 1800s underarm bowling was still in force and the bat was indeed shaped much more like a hurley than a modern cricket bat.

Good point, I’d forgotten the need for the bowler to touch a ball driven straight on to the non-striker’s stumps for a runout.

Thanks for the replies! - I figured Stephen’s play was either completely disastrous or unexpectedly brilliant, just wasn’t sure which :slight_smile:

Used to cause endless arguments in schoolboy cricket.

Incidentally, I believe laws like “hit the ball twice” and “obstructing the field” had to be brought in because back in the 1700s cricket used to get pretty wild and woolly, with some scope for disaster when both batsman and fielder were chasing after the ball…!

Both, really. It’s a pretty impressive hurling maneuver for someone who hasn’t even really warmed up…