Almanac Cricket (Terminology): What is the correct name for the box/protector/cup?

Yesterday, Mickey Randall posted a photo on Twitter. He has just bought one of these for a cricket comeback with a few mates in his home town, Kapunda:



It precipitated an unlikely discussion about what they are called. Abdominal guard seems somewhat far-fetched and a late-Victorian euphemism if ever I’ve heard one.


Where I come from this is either

  1. A box
  2. A Protector


However, some suggested it was a ‘cup’. I think this is some South Australian term? (They didn’t have convicts.)


I am interested in establishing all names of this device. Please add any term, however local and idiosyncratic, for this device. (Feel free to tell any stories of cricket balls crashing into boxes too.)


Bumble Lloyd gave the humble box more exposure than anyone in human history.


You can see him getting hit in the Jatz crackers in this YouTube clip and then telling the story in the second clip. He uses a term which I can’t quite catch: a ‘pink l…’ Perhaps we should ask him what he likes to call the box via Twitter in due course.


I think his slow fall to the wicket is magnificent.










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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Priceless. I reckon he calls it a pink “thing”.

    Its always been a box from where I come from. I have heard it referred to as the Tower of London – where the Crown Jewels are kept.

  2. The girls call their variety “Jills” here in Canada. Maybe the men’s variety is called a jack, so it is a “Jack in the box”.

  3. Dr Goatboat says

    Also a receptacle for storing cuff-links post career……refer the 7 stages of ageing (or such).

    As i was told once when. I was hit: “Don’t rub ’em, count ’em”

  4. I love how, yet again, the Almanac and JTH in particular has distilled a story from an unlikely source. The term “cup” came from my boys who are eleven and nine. I suspect American cultural imperialism is at work here although I don’t know for sure. It was not a term I had previously encountered. The object was always and only a box. A late-Victorian euphemism indeed!

    As I suggested elsewhere I reckon a fluorescent version called the Junk Boss would appeal to teenagers.

    6%- fascinating idea.

  5. I’ve only ever known that vital piece of equipment as a box.
    And until now never questioned why.
    Even though it’s not very box-like.

    Is “box” a shortening of “tackle box”?

  6. Mick Jumpertz says

    We always called them a “box” and it has only ever been the radio or telly broadcasters who called it a “protector” or the even more formal “abdomen protector”.

    I think the Americans call it a “cup” for baseball I’m guessing.

    Occasionally we also called it a “thimble”…

  7. To me, its always been called a box. For all that, in the “good old days” when footballers actually played in their positions, a tactic often employed by some full backs on full forwards was the good old “squirrel grip”. Surely the meaning is obvious. Anyway, a box would have been handy equipment to neutralize this dastardly deed.

  8. Box where I come from, but at home it was called a ball protector. And take it from a doctor, that thing isn’t going to provide ANY protection to the abdomen.

  9. Colin Ritchie says

    Remember well the day the old humble box saved me from returning to my boy soprano days! Late 60s or very early70s playing for Kew in ESCA. It had rained all night, turf wicket sodden but both sides agreed to play, though hestitantly. Lost the toss and sent into bat on what surely looked like a quick’s pitch. Opening the batting, my boots squelching on the damp wicket I nervously took guard. Bowler from a long runup stormed in, seemed to take for ever to reach the crease then he let rip. First appearances it was going to be a dolly half-pitcher then the ball hit the damp, well grassed wicket. Before I’d got half way through my backlift I realised it was not going to be a dolly half-pitcher! The ball, IMHO, skidded off the deck at twice the speed it hit it, seamed slightly and headed for my middle stump mid height. I was in trouble, big trouble. That ball hit me fair square on my aluminium box with a resounding clunk. With the sound still ringing in my ears my knees slowly gave way as I crumpled in a heap dislodging the bails before knocking all three stumps to the ground. I couldn’t get up, the opposing team didn’t know whether to laugh or offer me commiserations as I struggled to retain my pride. I was out, a golden duck, first ball of the match! When I managed to compose myself I dragged the box from my jocks, to the amusement of all, a huge dint was obvious in the box. Although in pain I could only grimace at the thought of what might have been if I hadn’t been wearing that box.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    At Croxton CYC, before going out to bat, we used to ask: “Where’s the Ball Protector?”

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    How do the modern ones stay in?

    As an 11yo cowardly baseballer, I had to buy a jockstrap with the inbuilt pouch to house the wafer thin “pink thing”. Those pink things could give you a nasty cut in various groinal vicinities if their perimeter hadn’t been trimmed correctly. At least I knew where mine had been, unlike the communal ones used by the school cricket team.

    They were a “box” back then too.

  12. In my first couple of teaching years I had a few Grade 8,9,10 PE classes. Cricket was always an first term unit for the Grade 8s – to try to uncover some talent for the school teams. Even in 1986 it was remarkable how many of the boys hadn’t played cricket and hence the box was a complete mystery to them – the faces they pulled when I said, “Make sure you’ve got a box on.”

    Ridiculously inexperienced, I assumed every kid would just put one on. But after a couple of weeks I realised only those who’d played cricket were wearing them. I’d ask, “Have you gt a box on?” To which the neophytes would say, “Yes, Mr Harms”. Of course they didn’t.

    Once I wised up, I had a simple solution. As they walked into the nets to take strike I had a simple question:

    “Schmidt, got a box on?”

    “Yes, Mr Harms.”

    “Give it a tap with the bat for me please.”

  13. Mark Duffett says

    Not sure if it’s from her hockey or Tasmanian background, but my better half calls it a frog.

  14. David Lloyd is hilarious.My favorite comment is re a charity game and a v v v well known SA sportsperson
    used the line ohh a box it’s ok I got one of those

  15. For me, it’s always been a box.

    David Lloyd story is one of the best.

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