Do you feel that the present Federal Government has the runs on the board? Or is it on a sticky wicket?
We all know that the next election is but a hop, skip and jump away and that this is not a good time for any ministers to rest on their laurels.
The electors might feel that the Government has had a good innings, that its race is now run and that it is time to throw in the towel.
They might want the Opposition to get a guernsey and take over the reins. At least it could start from scratch by acting on the voters' latest riding instructions.
Australians would not wish Labor members to be slow off the mark to do this or to back pedal on their promises. After all, the ball is now at their feet if they hit the straps, even though they have no recent track record. They could even win the next election in a canter, although a photo finish is more likely in a two-horse race.
But they may be riding for a fall if too many potential leaders throw their hats into the ring and turn every issue into a political football.
Now for a change of pace. It is time to give the game away and let the cat out of the bag.
If you were on the ball, you will have realised by this time that the essay that you are currently reading is a piece on metaphors which originally came from the world of sport but which are often employed in ordinary conversation.
In fact, about 4 per cent of all metaphors in everyday use relate to sport, although this is well behind the 23 per cent which involve parts of the human body and the 9 per cent which are based on animals. In Australian usage many of these have their origin in a single sporting activity - the game of cricket.
Apart from those metaphors already mentioned these include "to go in to bat for someone else", "to let something go to the keeper", "to open the batting", "to hit someone for six", "to maintain a straight bat", "to be a member of the second eleven" and "to break one's duck". Of course, there is also the expression "That is not cricket" itself, showing how highly regarded the game is as a yardstick for other community activities.
But perhaps you are more interested in boxing? Surely you never hit people below the belt even if you occasionally take off the gloves or merely indulge in shadow boxing.
If you are the real McCoy and not just a Iightweight you will now get off the canvas and think about expressions derived from some other sports. You may even get your skates on to do this.
You will try to be the first off the mark to stick your oar in, proving that you are in the same league as other readers who are setting the pace in order to find out the current state of play.
In fact, you will plunge right in, jumping in at the deep end and swimming against the tide because this is a new ball game for you.
Admittedly, if you have never thought about metaphors before then that would be par for the course. You will be right behind the eight ball, struggling to get to first base and to overcome this stumbling block. You might even want to take your bat and ball home and sit on the sidelines until you are saved by the bell.
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Renton's Metaphors, a dictionary from which the above examples were derived
Compendium of Good Writing
Questions and Answers: Common Grammar Errors
Every Man and his Dog Use Metaphors
Home Page of Nick Renton AM
This page http://nickrenton.com/944.htm was last updated on 2006-02-05