The sound of English bats

Before the rain came at Old Trafford we were asking will England bat out the day? Australia was making a last ditch effort to win the third test in the Ashes. But the rain stopped play and the batting stopped altogether, England wins the Ashes.

Batting is the verb form of using a bat to hit a ball, something very dear to Englishmen and Australians and the source of much rivalry.

A E Housman, poet of the Shropshire Lad, wrote unenthusiastically on the beginning of a new cricket season:

Now in Maytime to the wicket,
Out I march with bat and pad,
See the son of grief at cricket,
Trying to be glad.

While A A Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh, wrote an ode to his cricket bat:

Revered, beloved,
O you whose job is but to serve throughout the season,
To make, if so be it, a blob.

A cricket bat is made from a cylindrical cane handle fitted into a willow block that forms the blade. The top edges of the blade near the handle are known as the shoulders of the bat, and the bottom of the blade is known as the toe. The laws of cricket allow only wooden bats and willow is used because it is light and strong. Cricket balls are made of leather. Often cricket is described as being the sound of leather on willow.

Bat is an old English word for a stick or a club. It is thought to have come from a native British word for a cudgel and is similar to the Irish and Gaelic word.

Other European languages have similar words: Old French had batte and the Late Latin word battre meant to beat. All the words are thought to have originated in the Proto-Indo-European word-root bhat meaning to strike.

Some sources suggest the first recorded use of the word bat in cricket was in the 1620s in relation to the death of a fielder probably from being hit by the batsman to prevent him catching the ball. So by an odd quirk of fate the cricket bat has got its first mention when it is being used as a cudgel.