The phrase "Back in" definition:For the non-striker to take a few steps down the pitch, in preparation to taking a run, just as the bowler bowls the ball.

The pitch is straight so how can one move down it? I've seen phrases like: down the throat, down the line , etc. but they are idiomatic. What the phrase means by down the pitch?

Also, the screen is popping an error with in preparation to. I think it is fine. In preparation to could be replaced by in preparation for without changing the meaning.The difference lies in the usage- British English or American. Am I right?

2 Answers 2


The cricket pitch is a very specific area of the cricket playing field, demarked by the wickets, it is about 20 metres long. The overall playing area is much larger, typically for professional games over 100m in diameter.

Cricket pitch

playing two important roles:

  1. Defines the bowler's task. The bowler propels the ball from close to one wicket towards the other wicket. As an analogy with baseball, one wicket marks the position of the pitcher's mound, the other defines the strike zone.

  2. Defines how the batsman scores a run: the batsman moves from one wicket to the other to score a run. So the wickets also act as "bases"

The complication comes from the fact that at any time two batsman are "in", one at each wicket (yes the bases are loaded). One batsman is inactive, standing adjacent to the wicket from where the bowler bowls. This is the non-striker, and the subject of the question. The other batsman is defending the other wicket and hoping to hit the ball so that a run can be scored - each batsman runs down the pitch to the opposite end from where each started, the batsmen exchange places. Both must make it to their respective objective wicket for the run to be scored.

Hence the non-striker has an incentive to steal his way a little bit along the pitch. He's not going to strike the ball, so he's free to move and save himself some running. For no obvious reason we refer to motion away from the starting position as down the pitch, rather than along the pitch.

[There is no direct equivalent of baseball's stealing a run, it is explicitly forbidden by the laws of cricket.]

  • I understood, in down the pitch , run is omitted.It is (run) down the pitch.
    – Anubhav
    Jul 25, 2016 at 15:31
  • There is another question. Can you answer it too?
    – Anubhav
    Jul 25, 2016 at 15:35
  • 1
    In your quote we have " take a few steps down the pitch", so "take a few steps" is the motion, and "down the pitch" is the direction. We don't need "run" here as we already have "take a few steps". In practice the non-striker will be walking at this time, he will only break into a running motion when the other batsman hits the ball.
    – djna
    Jul 25, 2016 at 15:56
  • Could we use for in place of to in preparation to taking?
    – Anubhav
    Jul 25, 2016 at 16:23
  • 1
    Yes, good idea. I think "for" is slightly better than "to".
    – djna
    Jul 25, 2016 at 16:30

"Pitch" is also a British term for the playing field itself, so "down the pitch" would simply mean the player is moving down the field.

  • Not just British, I think all the major Cricket nations refer to it as a Pitch - see my answer for why it's not synonymous with field.
    – djna
    Jul 25, 2016 at 13:54
  • Yes, pitch is not interchangeable with just any playing field, but my answer didn't say it was synonymous; the question implied Cricket and the answer was termed in kind. Jul 25, 2016 at 20:10
  • Must disagree: "Pitch is the British term for playing field": it is not, the pitch is a portion of the whole playing field. The field is maybe a 150m diameter playing area, the Pitch is just the 20 meters between the two wickets. The players, apart from batsmen and bowler are deployed across the whole field. We would never say that the "player is moving down the field".
    – djna
    Jul 25, 2016 at 21:19

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