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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the sport of cricket, a duck refers to a batsman's dismissal for a score of zero.


Origin of the term

The term is a shortening of the term "duck's egg", the latter being used long before Test cricket began. When referring to the Prince of Wales' (the future Edward VII) score of nought on 17 July 1866, a contemporary newspaper wrote that the Prince "retired to the royal pavilion on a "duck's egg"".[1] The name is believed to come from the shape of the number "0" being similar to that of a duck's egg. The Concise Oxford Dictionary still cite "duck's egg" as an alternative version of the term.[2]

Significant ducks

The first duck in a Test match was made in the very first Test of all, between Australia and England at Melbourne in March 1877, when Ned Gregory was caught by Andrew Greenwood off the bowling of James Lillywhite.[3] As of 2007, the record for the most ducks in Test cricket is held by West Indies player Courtney Walsh, who was out for nought on 43 occasions,[4] while the overall first-class record is 156, set by Worcestershire and England player Reg Perks.[5]

One particularly high-profile example of a duck came in 1948, when Don Bradman was playing his final Test match for Australia, against England at The Oval. As things turned out, Australia won the match by an innings, and so they (and therefore Bradman) did not get to bat a second time. Had he scored just 4 he would have finished with a career Test batting average of 100, but that duck meant that in fact he ended with an average of 99.94.[6]

In the first test of Australia's tour of India in 1986, with the cumulative scores tied, Indian tailender Maninder Singh was trapped LBW by Greg Matthews for a four ball duck, ensuring just the second tied test in Test Cricket history.


Players who are dismissed by the first ball they face are said to have been dismissed for a golden duck.[7] As an extension of this, silver duck[8] and bronze duck[8] refer to being dismissed for nought on the second ball and third ball respectively. There is some dispute over the application of the term diamond duck[9] which has sometimes been used to refer to being dismissed without facing a ball (usually run out)[10 ] or when a batsman is out to the first ball of a team’s innings[9]. This second definition in part overlaps the definition of a platinum duck[11] or royal duck, which refers colloquially to a batsman who is out on the first ball of a match. The latter term may owe its existence to an incident in 17 July 1866, when the then Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) opened the batting for I Zingari against the Gentlemen of Norfolk in his first match since school. He was out first ball of the innings (though not of the match), bowled by a man named Wright, and "retired to the royal pavilion on a "duck's egg"".[1] When referring to this incident, Louis Albert Nickolls said "The Royal "duck" is recorded for all to see."[12] Although the "Royal" obviously referred to the Prince himself, the term's usage in association with a duck on the first ball of innings may have stuck. The term Royal duck was used when West Indian debutant Leon Garrick made the worst possible start to his Test career when he was out to the first ball of the fifth Test match against South Africa in 2001 having cut his first delivery from Allan Donald into the hands of Shaun Pollock in the gully.[13] Notably, when referring to the similar famous dismissal of Jimmy Cook in 1992, who in his long awaited Test debut was out to the first ball of the match, ESPN cricinfo refer to this as a diamond duck[14]. A captain who is bowled out for a royal duck is referred to as a royal turkey.


To be dismissed for nought in both innings of the same two-innings match is to be dismissed for a pair,[15] because the two noughts together are thought to resemble a pair of spectacles; the longer form is occasionally used.[16] To be dismissed first ball in both innings (i.e., two golden ducks) is to suffer the indignity of making a king pair.[7]


  1. ^ a b LONDON from THE DAILY TIMES CORRESPONDENT, 25th July, 1866 can be viewed at Paper's past
  2. ^ "duck". Retrieved 2009-03-29.  
  3. ^ "Australia v England in 1876/77". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2007-05-22.  
  4. ^ "Tests - Most Ducks in Career". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-05-22.  
  5. ^ "Most Ducks in First-Class Cricket". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2007-05-22.  
  6. ^ "Don Bradman". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2007-05-22.  
  7. ^ a b "Cricket explained". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-05-22.  
  8. ^ a b "BBC Sport". 2005-07-24. Retrieved 2005-07-24.  
  9. ^ a b Victorian Cricket Association Umpires and Scorers Association Association Newsletter, Vol. 15 No. 5, 2008–2009 season, p11
  10. ^ " Twenty20 Match Commentary". Retrieved 2009-01-17.  
  11. ^ Sailesh S. Radha, Five Days in White Flannels: A Trivia Book on Test Cricket, p46, (AuthorHouse) ISBN 1438924690
  12. ^ Louis Albert Nickolls, Royal cavalcade: a diary of the royal year, p60 (Macdonald), 1949
  13. ^ "5th Test: West Indies v South Africa at Jamaica, 19-23 Apr 2001".  
  14. ^ All Today's Yesterdays - South Africa's first home Test for 22 years
  15. ^ "Middlesex facing innings defeat at Lord's". Middlesex County Cricket Club. 2006-06-22. Retrieved 2007-05-22.  
  16. ^ Blofeld, Henry (2003-08-18). "CRICKET: Smith has the class and character to revive England". The Independent (FindArticles). Retrieved 2007-05-22. "Conversely, Graham Gooch made a pair of spectacles in his first Test, against Australia."  

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