Cricket is a sport that features a huge vocabulary of terms and phrases used by players and commentators alike. One of the terms that often comes up in cricket discussions is “cow corner.”
You might have heard a commentator say “he’s hit it to cow corner” and wondered what on earth it means.
What exactly is cow corner?
Cow corner is an area of the cricket outfield. There are lots of different terms for parts of the ground and the outfield such as mid-wicket, deep mid-wicket, silly point…these can get a bit confusing.
The Origins of Cow Corner
The term “cow corner” is said to have originated in the 19th century, during a time when cricket was played on large grass fields without the benefit of boundary markers.
The term specifically comes from Dulwich College in England where there was a corner of the playing area on the ground which contained cows and other livestock.
In those days, cows were often kept in the fields to graze, and the cows would sometimes take shelter in a corner of the field where there was less foot traffic and activity.
It was deemed that not many people could hit a cricket ball to this area, and that it would be a very rare occurrence, so that’s where the cows would go while people played the game.
The Location of Cow Corner on the Cricket Field
So where is cow corner located on the cricket field, exactly?
Cow corner refers to the area of the field between deep mid-wicket and long-on. This is the far corner of the field on the leg side.
Obviously, it varies depending on whether the batter is left-handed or right-handed. Cow corner can be in either of the “corners” of the ground.
It is also a little confusing that we use the term corner here, as a cricket ground is round in shape, but this is one of those quirks of the game.
Fielding Positions in Cricket
Cricket fielding positions are organized around the idea of protecting different areas of the field from the batsman’s shots. Some common fielding positions include:
- Slip: a fielder who stands behind the wicketkeeper and to the side, ready to catch any balls that the batsman edges
- Cover: a fielder who stands on the off side (right-hand side for a right-handed batsman) to cut off any potential boundary-scoring shots hit in that direction
- Silly point: a fielder who stands very close to the bat in an attempt to catch any balls that the batsman hits into the ground in front of them
Long on and midwicket are the two closest to cow corner. Back in the day, there would be nobody placed between these guys due to the fact that not many players could really hit here.
Modern players including Jos Buttler, Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, and AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle were some of the first batters to really exploit this area in limited overs cricket.
Identifying Cow Corner
When you’re watching a cricket match on television, you can usually identify the cow corner area by pointing diagonally from the batter towards the bottom of the screen.
To hit to cow corner the ball will go way past the bowler, into the far corner of the outfield on the leg side.
The Significance of Cow Corner in Cricket Strategy
Why is cow corner so important in cricket strategy? Depending on the game situation, cow corner can be used by both the batting and fielding teams in different ways.
Batting Techniques and Cow Corner
If you’re a batsman, one of the ways that you can use cow corner to your advantage is by attempting to hit the ball into that area of the field, but only if you have the power to do so.
It can be awkward to work the ball into this area on the leg side, but those who have immense power can often smash the cricket ball out of the ground near cow corner. It can also be a gap in the field for scoring fours, so you don’t necessarily have to clear the ropes, but this still needs a lot of power.
In case you’re wondering what a cow corner shot should look like, here’s a stunner from Rizwan:
Fielding Tactics and Cow Corner
From a fielding perspective, cow corner is often seen as a key area of the field to tempt the batsman. If they need to score runs, this could be an area to tempt them to play a shot to, potentially opening up errors or opportunities if they don’t connect properly with their shot.
The Role of Cow Corner in Modern Cricket
As cricket has evolved over the years, so too has the role of cow corner. In modern cricket, the area is seen as a genuine scoring option, especially in the shorter formats of the game. In these shorter games, scoring runs quickly is often a top priority, and fielders may be positioned differently to try to prevent batsmen from hitting boundaries in cow corner.
Some grounds have shorter boundaries which really makes cow corner a potential scoring area, too.
Everyone loves cow corner
If you’re new to the sport, you might be wondering why on earth a fielding position or part of the ground would be called cow corner, but now you know. It really does derive from actual cows!
Very few batsmen and women can use this area in village cricket if there are long boundaries, unless they have an immense level of power, so this can come into the thinking of fielding teams.