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What is a duck in cricket?

When a batsman is dismissed without scoring a single run, it is called a duck in cricket.

A duck is one of the most popular terms that are commonly used by commentators, experts, and cricket fans during a match. A duck can often prove to be the cause of anguish for a batter and delight for a bowler.

However, like many other cricket terms that are also in existence, the usage of the word ‘duck’ seems rather odd. Inspite of that, because of its annotation with the sport and cricket jargon, it has become common cricket lingo and is now recognized by cricket fans all over the world.

But what does the word duck in cricket mean and where did it originate?

Who has the most ducks in cricket history?

PlayersDucksMatchesInningsTotal Runs
Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)594953281936
Courtney Walsh (West Indies)543372641257
Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka)5358665121032
Glenn McGrath (Australia)49376376761
Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)4765272525957

While having the most ducks in cricket history is certainly not a record to be proud of, that record belongs to Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan who was dismissed on a duck 59 times over his international cricket career. However, to his credit, Muralitharan also holds the record for taking the most wickets in international cricket and it’s fair to say that he can be excused because of that.

What is a duck in cricket – Meaning of the term

In the sport of cricket, if a batsman is dismissed without scoring a single run, they are said to be dismissed for a duck or bowled out for a duck. In the case of a duck, the score beside the batsman reads 0.

It is an unfortunate scenario that every batter in the world tries his best to avoid. After all, the job of a batter is to score as many runs as possible in crucial situations in order to help his side get the upper hand in the game. Getting out without scoring any run defeats that purpose and it can often prove to be an embarrassing affair.

From the bowler’s perspective, however, there is hardly a greater cause of joy as he succeeds in his efforts in getting rid of the opposition batter without letting him score.

In professional cricket, however, a duck is not exactly a common occurrence as the standard of batting is quite high. Bowlers often have to be at their best versions in order to outsmart the opposition batting team and get ducks.

What is a duck in cricket: Its Origin

While the origins of how the phrase ‘duck’ in cricket came into use might be different depending on various accounts, the common notion is that the phrase ‘duck’ or ‘out for a duck’ is used because the number zero on the scoreboard looks like the same shape as a duck’s egg. Even in baseball, when a batter gets out without scoring, it is called a goose egg.

The origins of the phrase duck in cricket can actually be traced back to when former British monarch Edward VII used to play the sport. During his secondary school days, he used to be an avid cricket enthusiast and played the sport quite frequently. However, the Prince of Wales was apparently not too great with the bat in hand and used to be dismissed quite frequently.

It is said that during an exhibition match between the amateur I Zingari and Norfolk held in July 1866, Prince Edward arrived at the crease for his side I Zingari and there was a great expectation among the audience to witness the Prince of Wales in action. However, his stay at the crease was as short-lived as it gets as he was bowled out without scoring and had to walk back to the team dugout inside a few seconds after coming on.

Apparently, a reporter from the Daily Times was present during the Test match to cover the action and happenings and in his report, he wrote that Edward “returned to the pavilion for a duck’s egg” after he was bowled out without scoring during his team’s innings. While it cannot be known for sure whether there were any previous references to duck’s egg to represent the score zero before this incident, the phrase struck and it became to be widely used in subsequent Test matches that followed.

What are the different types of ducks in cricket?

While the phrase duck in general to any case of a batter losing his wicket without scoring a single run, there are several different variations of the word duck which represents various methods of being dismissed without scoring runs.

Some of these different ducks in cricket are:

Regular Duck

A regular duck is when the batter is dismissed for zero but after facing at least more than one delivery in the match.

Funnily enough, the record for the longest duck in cricket belongs to New Zealand’s Geoff Allott who got out after facing 72 deliveries and spending 101 minutes on the crease.

Golden Duck

When a batsman is dismissed while facing the very first ball in an innings, it is said to be a golden duck. For example, Indian batter KL Rahul recently notched up two consecutive golden ducks against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup as well as the Asia Cup group stage fixture.

Another term that is closely associated with the golden duck is King pair when a batter is dismissed on the very first ball faced in both the innings of a first-class cricket match without scoring a single run. This pair of two golden ducks in the same match is called a King pair.

Diamond Duck

The case of a diamond duck is quite peculiar as it takes place when a batsman loses his wicket without facing a single legal ball. For example, if a batsman gets run out while trying to take a run when a bowler has bowled a wide ball or even when he gets out at the non-striker’s end without facing a single legal delivery.

Platinum Duck

A Platinum Duck takes place if the batsman is dismissed in the first ball of the innings or the first ball of the entire match. It is often referred to as a Royal Duck as well.

Laughing Duck

When the final wicket of a team’s innings falls without scoring a single run, it is sometimes called a laughing duck in order to add salt to the wounds. This type of duck is quite common as tailenders aren’t particularly renowned for their batting skills.

Silver Duck

Much like how a golden duck is attributed to a batsman getting out on the first ball of the innings he faces, if he gets dismissed without scoring on the second ball, it is called a silver duck.

Bronze Duck

In the same pattern as golden duck and silver duck, a bronze duck comes into play when the batsman gets out for zero on the third ball he faces.

Titanium Duck

A Titanium Duck is similar to a Diamond Duck in the sense that the batsman in question is dismissed for nought without facing a delivery. However, the distinction here is that the batter is given out on the very first ball of his team’s innings.

Once again, run outs are the most common cause of this dismissal but there can be other instances. It’s not a widely used term but that’s largely due to the fact that it’s extremely rare for this set of circumstances to occur.


What are the various types of ducks in cricket?

The various types of ducks in cricket are golden duck, silver duck, bronze duck, platinum duck, titanium duck, and diamond duck.

What is an emperor duck in cricket?

In cricket, if a batsman is out for no score in both innings of a Test match, he is said to have scored a ‘pair’ or a ‘spectacle’. When a batsman is out for a duck in both innings — on the very first ball — in each innings, it is termed an ‘Emperor Pair’ or ‘King Pair’.

What is a silver duck in cricket?

When a batsman gets out on the second delivery faced in the match without scoring, it is called a silver duck.

Who has the most golden ducks in Test cricket?

The record for the most golden ducks in Test cricket also belongs to Muttiah Muralitharan who has got out on the first ball on 14 occasions during his career.


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