Doosra stumps cricket lexicon

London - That cricket has a language all of its own is something that has long been acknowledged.

But now a survey has concluded that 'Doosra' is the single most untranslatable term in cricket, after topping the poll of more than 300 language specialists with 21 percent of the vote.

It's not hard to see why.

That single word describes a delivery bowled by an off-spin bowler that turns the opposite way from a conventional off-break in that it goes from leg to off, rather than off to leg and so spins away from a right-handed batsman.

For cricket fans, that all makes perfect sense. Whatever others make of it is anyone's guess.

"Doosra" outscored second-placed "googly" and third-placed "mullygrubber" in a survey of linguists conducted by Today Translations, a London-based language firm with a global network of 2 600 linguists.

Jurga Zilinskiene, Today Translations's managing director, said: "Cricket is not just a sport but also a language in its own right.

"Indeed, it is perhaps the world's most untranslatable language."

He added translation is often as much about translating culture as words.

"Sometimes, the equivalent idea - like doosra or googly - simply does not exist in both cultures.

"I believe, for example, that cricket is now starting to catch on in France," said Zilinskiene. "Can you imagine? But don't worry. We at Today Translations are working on finding a good French translation for 'doosra'.

The word, in the cricketing sense, owes its origins to Pakistan, England's opponents in the fourth and final Test starting at Lord's here on Thursday.

Former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who also played with great success for English county side Surrey, is credited with inventing the 'doosra' a word that in Urdu or Hindi means 'second' or 'other'.

It was a ball used to great effect by Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal in the tourists' four-wicket third Test win at The Oval last week that cut England's series lead to 2-1,

"Cricket has generated a richer terminology than any other sport and -- some would say -- than any other human activity aside from sex," said Zilinskiene.

That will come as no great surprise to both cricket followers and those who can't stand the sport.

Harold Pinter, the late English Nobel Prize-winning playwright, once said: "I tend to believe that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth.

"Certainly greater than sex, although sex isn't too bad either... Anyway, you can either have sex before cricket or after cricket. The fundamental fact is that cricket must be there at the centre of things."

As many an appealing, if not necessarily attractive, bowler might have said: "Owzat?"

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
Australia 193/3
England 147/10
Voting Booth
What are your views on the World Rugby men's Player of the Year nominations for 2021 not including any Springboks?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It's a disgrace! Both Siya Kolisi AND Eben Etzebeth should have been nominated!
39% - 5641 votes
Siya, at the very least, should have been included after a superb season
7% - 939 votes
Etzebeth has been SA's best player this year and should feel hard done by
21% - 2965 votes
Get over it! Moaning about this just sounds like sour grapes!
33% - 4794 votes