John Lichfield: Cricket as you've never heard it before

Paris Notebook: Did you ever wonder what the French might be for deep backward square leg? Answer: "Barrière oblique côté fermé"
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The Independent Online

A few years ago I covered the Geoffrey Boycott trial in the South of France. The Great Man, despite his reputation, and predicament (on trial for assault), was quite charming.

My fondest memory is of the bewildered expression on the face of the French judge, a striking blonde woman in her forties, when a lawyer recited the rules of cricket. Exhibit A at "le procès Boycott" in Grasse ought to have been a marvellous little book which I have just received in the post: Les Lois du Cricket (version française).

As reported recently, the French cricket association hopes to re-stage, in 2012, the first and only Olympic cricket final played between England and France in 1900. In my original report, I suggested that the almost 1,000 cricketers registered in France mostly used English cricket vocabulary.

Eddie Cannon, vice-president of France Cricket, kindly sent me the book to point out that this is incorrect (in theory if not in practice). In the glossary of Les Lois, all the wonderful language of cricket has been imaginatively translated into French.

Did you ever wonder what the French might be for deep backward square leg? Answer: "Barrière oblique côté fermé". A bowler is, prosaically, "un bôleur"; a batsman is "un batteur"; a wicket is "un guichet"; a stump is "un piquet".

Beyond the basics, cricket in French becomes just as poetic as cricket in English. An off-spinner is "un tricoteur" or "knitter". A leg-spinner is a "tournicoteur" or "prowler". A wicket maiden is "une vierge couronnée (a crowned virgin).

My favourite is the "googly" which is "un bosanquet". The word, which sounds convincingly French, is an inspired choice. The googly was invented by an England cricketer at the turn of the 20th century. His name was Bernard Bosanquet. He was the father of the late, unpredictable ITN newsreader, Reginald Bosanquet, who was something of a googly himself.

The secret to French kissing

French kissing has always been a mystery to me. I speak, of course, of the little pecks on the cheek exchanged as a greeting between acquaintances. How many is one supposed to inflict or endure? There are endless regional, or generational, variations. I always seem to end up giving one too many or one too few.

My daughter, Clare, aged 15, patiently explained the code, as understood by her snooty Parisienne teenage friends. Four kisses shows you are a "beauf" or chav; three means you are a "plouc" or yokel; two is for chic Parisians; one is for the English.