Call a six a six

When the hell did it become a maximum?

It seems that the common and traditionally accepted description to designate a six has gone from a jokey piece of comment by one or two TV presenters to being a reasonably accepted piece of cricket definition in reputable journals and match summaries.

And just this week, in the Q&A part of Cricinfo (Ask Steven), his article’s title includes the words “Morgan’s Maximums”

Did I miss a meeting, a memo or a press release? (Do they still write memos? Maybe I missed a tweet)

There are two forms of boundaries, 4s and 6s. One goes to the boundary, one over it. That’s not too hard is it?

And yes, T20 is changing the way we look at cricket, and we have to move with the times. I get that, and see ramp shot, sweeper and other similar phrases becoming part of the norm in cricket, which is perfectly understandable as they are innovations for which the 100 year plus game didn’t have names for.

Just as football is evolving away from traditional field positions and we are coming up with new names both descriptive (tagger, loose man, small forward) to ridiculous (third tall, lead-up forward, slingshot), cricket has developed too.

However, a hit over the boundary, (despite encroaching boundary lengths and ropes, don’t start me on that) is still the same as it has been since scoring changed to reward a player 6 runs for going out of the field of play, not out of the entire ground, which you once had to do to score 6.

So, if a six is still a six, why is a six now a maximum? If this was a sneaky plan to label something with a branded name, like a new ice cream, (“and Dunk launches that high over mid-wicket for another Streets Maximum!”) I could understand it. Deplore it, but understand it.

But why have we started to move towards this name? Is a nurdled single off the hip now going to become a minimum? An on drive at the WACA that gets you three going to be called a half or a 50 percenter?

So again, what the hell happened to the 6?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a rant* where I bemoan everything invented after the debut of Neil Harvey as being terrible. I am not saying the old stuff is best, we should never change and this T20 stuff is the death of cricket. T20 is in fact a marketing, entertainment and financial windfall that is having a flow on impact to Test Cricket and should be seen as a supplement to the main product, like Fanta is to Coke.

T20 is also changing the way we look at stats. There have been some excellent pieces published recently on the need for a review of what we use as measurements of performance in this new form of cricket, including one fine article from Ed Cowan. We see player milestones as being scores of 30 plus, dot balls replacing maidens and the measure of strike rate plus average gives a far better impression of value to a team. I like all those.

I am not immune to change. I can move with the times. Just last night, I downloaded my first app. So, clearly, I am what you call an early adopter.

But maximum? Give me a cotton pickin’, fair go, what the flamin’ heck, where did that come from, you’re kidding, I weep for the future and blame the internet, break.

A 4 is a 4, a 6 is a 6. Tennis scores are strange when you really consider them; a super goal makes no sense and basketball improved dramatically as a spectator sport when it moved to awarding three points for long shots (and a shot clock it must be said) decades ago.

But a maximum? Stop trying to be cool Mark Nicholas, stop trying to be the blokey best mate to everyone in the box because you use their nicknames and know their golf games James Brayshaw, and stop telling Sir Viv you got 5 tons for Marcellin, Andy ‘Buckets’ Maher!

Call a spade a spade. Call a six a six.

*Ok, maybe it is a bit of a rant

About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. Mickey Randall says

    Agreed Sean. Analogous to the ridiculous, nauseating use of “quarterback” on Channel 7 AFL telecasts.
    As Jules declares in Pulp Fiction, “in’t the same fxxxin’ ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same fxxxin’ sport.”

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Great work Sean, couldn’t agree more. Neil Harvey IS a very positive man, he only thinks everything invented after his retirement is terrible.

    Mickey, there is nothing that makes me angrier than the term ‘quarterback’ being used in AFL commentary.

  3. I think you are onto something Sean.
    A Multi (bet) – over the ropes but not over the fence – 6 runs.
    A Monster (bucket) – over the fence but not into the stands – 8 runs.
    A Magnum (ice cream) – into the first tier of the stand a la Faulkner – 10 runs.
    A Maxi (taxi/skirt/yacht/saver? – tenders open for the naming rights) – onto the roof or into the street a la Mark Waugh – 12 runs.
    Its not about sponsorship opportunities though. Think of the tension building/maximising opportunities for commentators “so its 30 runs to get with 3 balls remaining. Two maxis and a monster will get them there.”
    And the extended replays to decide where the ball landed. “Is that rear balcony in Magnum or Maxi territory, Andy? Lets check it on the KFC Heatseeker Seating Plan replay.”
    I hope Cricket Australia aren’t reading this.

  4. Steve Fahey says

    Spot on Sean (and Mickey, Luke and Peter) , ridiculous terminology and not even factually correct. After all, Chris Rogers did score a 7 in the last Test !

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Totally agree Sean and every comment above . Enjoyed the Neil Harvey appropriate sledge but would have used Pepsi ( would just about prefer to die of thirst ) v Coke .
    The line I hate is in footy a mark being called a catch NO it is a MARK

  6. Peter Flynn says

    Patsy Hendren, John Wright, Andrew Symonds and Brian Lara have all scored an 8 off one ball.


  7. Glen Potter says

    Growing up through and playing club cricket in the 80s, I was introduced to rhyming slang terms such as ‘Tommy Mix’ and ‘Dorothy Dix’. Do these references meet the criteria of Curtain’s Code of Colloquial Cricket Calls?

  8. DBalassone says

    PF, was the John Wright 8 at the G in 80/81? I swear I remember this, but when I brought it up recently to some mates (after Rogers 7 in Sydney) I was cut to pieces.

  9. Well a six has become devalued hasn’t it.

    Once upon a time not long ago a 6 in a game of cricket was a big deal. Remember Viv hitting a 6 over long on at Adelaide, was unheard of. Remember Lance Cairns knocking a few over fine leg?

    It’s not a big deal anymore, so given that it is essentially why crowds go to see T20 cricket they have to do something to a) ensure there are more of them – check and b) sex it up when it does happen. Hence “maximum” and the overblown matey front bar colloquialisms of Brayshaw and co. to inject excitement and therefore change the game to suit people who don’t really like it. No other sport would do that.

    Things like this can hurt test cricket. A test match is not about hitting sixes. Yes it happens but it is certainly not a tactical part of the game nor something a test crowd will complain about if it doesn’t happen. So the term “maximum” in a test match must be used carefully lest it becomes more about flaying runs than it already is.

    These things have been happening for a while. An off break that goes straight on is the “arm ball”. A batsman is a “batter”. A deep cover is a “sweeper”. A short fine leg is a man “at 45”. When a drive pierces the infield it is “that one’s got through”, as if the sole reason for an infield is to stop a boundary. All from the perspective of the batsman.

    Test cricket is about taking wickets. You can have a top 6 of Hutton, Greenidge, Bradman, Richards, Ponting, Tendulkar and never win a test match. But you would win every T20 game you played and hit a lot of sixes. The drive to make cricket a game about fast, high scoring has to be managed properly.

  10. G.A.Thompson says

    There is a place for the word maximum on the sporting circuit, but it’s not cricket.

    “Ronnie O’Sullivan has scored the fastest maximum in history”

    And if you want to see 5 1/4 minutes you’ll treasure
    Type Ronnie O’Sullivan+fastest+maximum into your youtube supplier of choice

  11. PB

    I actually had considered whether one initiative they would introduce into T20 was variable scoring. Notwithstanding the different size of the grounds played on, would they go with 5 for over the rope, 6 for over the fence? Not as silly as you think when you consider the AFL went with 9 points for long goals in the pre season comp.


    When you consider those Viv and Cairns sixes were on the old boundaries not on the shorter ropes, they are even better. yes, they are common place now, think Bailey has the highest ratio of 6s as part of his overall Test runs scored. Agree cricket is about taking wickets, but T20 is a batsmen’s game. Why anything down the leg side is a wide is beyond me. Whyy can’t they play off their hip? We are moving more towards having a baseball-like strike zone.


    rhyming slang fine, just the complete nae change I don’t get. A dorothy is fine by me


  12. Excellent call, Sean.
    Though I’m the type to cling to “realise” rather than “realize.” I read recently (can’t remember where, regrettably) that a dictionary should only ever be thought of as an historical document. Because it provides only a snapshot in time of a language. Which evolves.
    I guess that’s true.
    I watch for the SMS TXTification of our English with trepidation.
    What was the app?

  13. Peter Flynn says


    You are correct.

    I reckon Clarke scored a 7 in Adelaide and Majid Khan scored a 7 at the MCG.

    G.A. Thompson, I’ve written a short rushed article on Ronnie’s 147 break for this site.


  14. E.Regnans, downloaded the AFL app to get quicker scores. Held out as long as I could with apps, don’t see the point n most of them. My 13 year old helped me, was shocked and embarrassed at my ineptitude and now is seriously worried as I am teasing him I’m going to get an Instagram account and follow him and his sister.


  15. Barry Nicholls says

    Sounds like baseball or some other game other than cricket. Hip language doesn’t cut it with me.

  16. “We are moving more towards having a baseball-like strike zone.”

    One day cricket has been there for years.

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