Why is a Score of Zero in Cricket Called a Duck?

When a batsman fails to score and is dismissed, we call it a “duck”. But why use a word that’s usually associated with a quacking, feathered friend? Well, it all started in 1866 when the Prince of Wales was dismissed for a big, fat zero. The newspapers of the time reported that he returned to the pavilion on a duck’s egg, likely because the shape of a duck’s egg is similar to the number 0. And just like that, the term “duck” was born and it’s been flying around the cricket world ever since.

In cricket, there are different types of “ducks” that describe the circumstances under which a batsman may be dismissed.

1. Golden Duck

One of the most well-known is the “golden duck,” which is used when a player is dismissed on the very first ball he faces. This can be a humiliating experience for the batsman and can also demotivate the entire team, as the player returns to the pavilion without having scored any runs.


2. Silver and Bronze Duck

The terms Silver and Bronze ducks are used to describe a player’s dismissal on the second and third ball, respectively. These terms are often used to indicate how quickly a batsman was dismissed, and can add an extra layer of humiliation to an already disappointing performance.


3. Diamond Duck

The term “Diamond” is used to describe a situation where a player gets dismissed on the first ball of the team’s innings or even without facing the ball. An example of this would be getting run out from the non-striker’s end.


4. Platinum/ Royal Duck

The Platinum/Royal duck is the most significant type of duck in cricket, given to an opener who gets dismissed on the first ball of the match/innings. It’s a highly unfavorable situation for the team, and the player is often disappointed by the early exit.

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The term ‘Bombay Duck’

Indian all-rounder Ajit Agarkar earned the nickname ‘Bombay Duck’ after he was dismissed for zero five times in a row during a test match against Australia.


First duck in cricket history

The title of the first duck in cricket history goes back to the year 1877, during a match between England and Australia in Melbourne. This was the very first test match played in the history of cricket, and the title went to Ned Gregory as he was caught by Andrew Greenwood.

Duck records

Courtney Walsh holds the record for the most number of ducks in test cricket, which amounts to 43. Additionally, Reg Perks from Worcestershire has scored a whopping 156 ducks, setting a first-class record.


Unlucky duck for Bradman

In Don Bradman’s last test match, he was dismissed for a duck, leaving him just four runs short of securing a batting average of 100. As a result of the duck, his test batting average came to 99.94.


When whole team was out on duck

In a cricket match played in 1913 between Glastonbury and Huish and Langport, something extraordinary happened. During the chase, all of the Huish and Langport’s batsmen got dismissed for zero runs each, resulting in a score of zero runs for the entire innings. This happened after Glastonbury had set a target of 80 runs, which was considered a modest total.


While we all feel the excitement when a batsman from the opposing team gets dismissed for a duck and the disappointment when a batsman from our own team scores the same, we rarely hear about the origin and usage of the term ‘duck’. So, it is not only informative but also interesting to learn about the history behind this term.

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