AE 462 – Expression: Pull Up Stumps

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you how to use the expression to PULL UP STUMPS like a native English speaker.

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AE 462 – Expression: Pull Up Stumps

It was the most famous dismissal in the history of cricket. In 1948, Don Bradman strode to the crease to play the last of his 80 test match innings.

Then a special cheer on the field. 

He needed just 4 to finish with a career average of 100. Incredibly, the greatest batsman of all time finished with a duck.


G’day, you mob. How’s it going?

Welcome to this episode of The Aussie English Podcast. This is the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. So, it is specifically for people keen on, interested in, passionate about Australian English, but if you’re learning American English, if you’re learning British English, it doesn’t really matter, guys, it’s all the same language, a slightly different accent, sometimes I might also use slang that is specific to Australia, but other than that the tips, the tricks, the language you can learn in this podcast, for the most part, is going to be useful anywhere in the world. Okay?

So, the Aussie English Podcast, guys, is brought to you by This is the online learning environment, guys, where I upload all the bonus content in the form of short courses. So, for instance, if you want to work on your pronunciation, there is a pronunciation course that teaches you all of the different sounds in English. It gives you different audio files so you can practice these sounds. It compares similar sounding sounds. It’s a really good resource if you want to improve your accent.

But then, there’s also courses that go with each of these expression episodes where you get a breakdown of the vocab in this episode. You will get a video explaining eight of the more complicated vocab words. You will get another video on pronunciation and connected speech so you can sound more like a native speaker.

And then, a third video at the moment, about the different expressions that I use in these episodes. So, this is the best way for advanced English learners, intermediate to advanced English learners, to really take it up a notch, get to the next level, and improve a lot faster.

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Anyway, the intro scene for today, guys, was from a clip from a documentary on YouTube that was made by ESPN. I will put this in the transcript so that you can check it out. But, it was all about Australia’s most famous cricket player Sir Donald Bradman and the fact that he only just missed out on getting an average of 100 runs per game. So, we’ll talk more about that in the Aussie fact today.

Anyway, let’s get into the Aussie joke, we’ll go through the expression, the definitions, the origin of the expression, some examples, a little listen and repeat exercise, and then the Aussie fact.

So, today’s joke, guys, is related to cricket, because the expression’s related to cricket, which is also why the Aussie fact is related to cricket. And for those of you who don’t know, cricket is that game played by the British colonies around the world, the Commonwealth countries, where you hit a ball with a wooden bat. Okay? And it tends to be played on a very large oval.

So, the joke.

There are two rival cricketers and they were talking. The first one says, “The local team wants me to play for them very badly.”. And the second one says, “Well, you’re just the man for the job!”.

So, okay two cricketers. The first one says, “The local team wants me to play for them very badly.”. Okay? I want to think about “very badly”. And then the next guy says… and this is the joke, “Well, you’re just the man for the job!”.

So, what’s going on here and why is this funny? Okay, it might be complex and might seem complicated at first. So, “badly”, the word “badly” can be used in two different ways. For instance, if I want something really badly, I want it a lot. Okay? I really want that thing.

Whereas, if I do something really badly, or very badly, I do it horribly. So, in this case, the joke is that the guy is trying to say that the local team wants them to play for him really badly, meaning they really want him to play for the team, they want it a lot, they want it badly. But the second guy here, is interpreting it as he’s a horrible player and that the team wants him to play badly, as in, they want him to do a bad job of playing. And that’s why he says, “You’re the man for the job, then!”, suggesting the guy is a horrible cricket player.

Anyway, (I) hope you enjoy that joke, guys. Okay.

So, the expression today is “pull up stumps”, “to pull up stumps”. This is one that I’ve heard from time to time in Australia. It probably won’t be used in America. In fact, I am almost certain it won’t be, because Americans don’t really play cricket. They’re not fond of cricket. It’s not a big sport there. However, it might be used elsewhere in the English-speaking world that’s part of the Commonwealth where cricket is very common.

So, this expression “to pull up stumps” came from Rocio in the Aussie English Classroom. She is a member in there. Every week I get the members together on Facebook, we discuss different expressions to put on these episodes, and this week’s was hers, and everyone voted on it. Good job, Rocio.

So, let’s go through the definitions of the different words used in the expression “to pull up stumps”.

So, “to pull”. If you pull something, it is to grasp a hold of that thing, to hold the thing with your hand, and bring it towards you. So, to pull something is the opposite of to push something. You bring it towards you by holding it, as opposed to pushing it, as in, forcing it away from you. “To pull”.

“Up” is pretty obvious, guys. “Up” is the opposite of “down”. It is upwards, towards the sky. If you pull something “up”, you’re lifting that thing upwards, you’re lifting that thing vertically. To pull something “up”. So, you’re pulling something “up”.

“A stump”. This might be the one word you guys might not know. “A stump”. This can be two different things. Usually, it can be the base of a tree. So, if you chop a tree down, you’re a lumberjack, you’ve cut a tree down with a chainsaw or a saw, the thing that’s left in the ground where the roots are connected to the base of the tree, but the trees are not there anymore, that is “a stump”. Okay? “The stump” of a tree. However, in terms of cricket, “a stump” is one of the three pieces of wood that is hammered into the ground that the batter has to protect with the bat. So, the bowler, the person who throws the ball or bowls the ball, technically, in the game of cricket, is trying to hit the stumps with the ball and knock what are called the bails off the top of the stumps, and if he does so the batter is out. So, that is what “a stump” is in terms of cricket.

So, what does this expression mean and where did it originate from? “To pull up stumps”, “to pull up stumps”. In cricket, “to pull up stumps” means to call an end to game play for the day. So, obviously, if you pull the stumps up, you’re pulling them out of the ground, the game’s over. You’re pulling the stumps up, you’re leaving the ground, the game’s over. So, that’s the literal meaning.

However, figuratively, it means to cease doing something or to stop doing something, at least for the day. Okay.

So, let’s go through some examples.

Alright, example one. This is the literal example. Imagine you’re a cricketer who’s playing a match and that you’re on the way to scoring a century, which is 100 runs. We call that a century. You know, like 100 years is a century, we call a hundred runs in the game of cricket a century. You’re nearly at 100 runs. You’ve got a bowler on the other team you hate facing. So, this guy… you’re scared he’s going to get you out, you’re scared he’s going to bowl you out. He comes out, he’s ready to take you out, but just as he’s about to start bowling his first over, and over is the first of six bowls that a bowler gets before you have to change bowlers, an over his six bowls. Before he gets to start his first over, it starts raining, and this is a blessing in disguise for you, because the pitch has to be covered. They don’t want water in the pitch. The players are called off the pitch and have to take a break. You know, maybe a smoko, although, it’s unlikely they smoke and the game’s ended for the day. So, as a result of your good luck, as a result of the game finishing for the day, it’s time to pull up stumps. It’s time to call it a day. It’s time to take a rain check. We have to play tomorrow when it’s not raining anymore. The rain caused the umpire to literally pull up stumps.

So, example number two. Okay, this time you’re out with your mates sinking a few cold ones at the pub. So, you’re sinking, you’re drinking, a few beers, a few cold ones at the pub, you’re having a few cold beers. It’s Friday night drinks. So, Friday night drinks in Australia is where you tend to go to a pub or somewhere you can drink alcoholic drinks with friends or with colleagues from work. So, you’re Friday night drinks where you head out after work after a long week, ’cause you want to kick back and relax, you know, and have a yarn with your mates. Unfortunately, your wife calls and says that you need to come home and have dinner. So, you forgot she was cooking dinner, she’s put together a lovely meal, and you need to go home, you need to rush off, and get back home and have dinner. So, you might turn to your mates and say, “Guys, look, I’m really sorry, but it’s time for me to pull up stumps and head home. My wife’s getting a little bent out of shape, she’s getting a little angry, she’s getting her knickers in a knot. I’m sorry I’ve got to bail. I’m sorry I have to pull up stumps.”.

The third example here. Okay. Imagine that you are a tradie. So, you’re a brickie, which is a bricklayer, or a sparkie, an electrician. So, you’re on a job site, you’re building a house, you’ve got there early in the morning with your work mates, you’ve been smashing out all the work having a laugh, and suddenly find out it’s lunchtime. You suddenly realise, “Ah! It’s lunchtime. It’s almost twelve o’clock.”. So, you might turn your mate and say, “Wow! Time really flies when you’re having fun, huh? I didn’t realise it was almost lunchtime. It’s time to pull up stumps and go grab some grub.”. Okay. And “grab some grub” is to grab some food. “Grub” is food in Australian English as a slang term. So, “Let’s go get some grub, guys. Let’s go grab something to chew on. Let’s pull up stumps and we’ll come back later on.”.

So, hopefully now guys, you understand the expression “to pull up stumps”. Remember, literally, in terms of cricket, the game of cricket, is to call an end to game play for the day, because you have to literally pull the stumps up, pull them out of the ground, remove those stumps, part of the wicket, and take them inside, you know, pack up.

Figuratively, though, it just means to cease doing something, and usually, just for the day. Okay? Just for the day. You might come back and do it later.

Anyway, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise, guys, and then we’ll have a little yarn, we’ll have a little chat, about cricket and Sir Donald Bradman. Okay?

So, in this listening exercise, guys, this is your chance to practice your pronunciation. So, try and mimic my accent if you are after the Australian accent. If you are not, then just say these words after me in whatever accent you are practising. Okay? Let’s go.


To pull

To pull up

To pull up stumps x 5

I had to pull up stumps.

You had to pull up stumps.

He had to pull up stumps.

She had to pull up stumps.

We had to pull up stumps.

They had to pull up stumps.

It had to pull up stumps.

Great job, guys. Remember, if you would like to go in depth, you know, do a deep dive into how the pronunciation here works and learn a bit more about connected speech, you can join up to the Aussie English Classroom, Sign up. It’s just one dollar for your first month. You get 30 days to get used to it, to give it a try, see if it’s for you, and you can cancel at any time if it isn’t. But I assure you, if you get in there and work hard, your English is going to skyrocket.

Anyway, guys. Let’s get into the Aussie English fact for the day.

So, today’s Aussie English fact is about Sir Donald Bradman and cricket in the early 20th century versus how it is today.

So, what made me think of Sir Donald Bradman? Well, “pull up stumps” is obviously an expression that is related to cricket, and I was thinking about cricket and how I could talk about cricket, what interesting facts or aspects of the game do I know about, and then, I thought about Sir Donald Bradman who I knew a little bit about, at least, I know a lot more about him now after having studied this, but I knew a little bit about him from my days at school playing cricket.

Anyway, I found a great pair of videos online. One of them was by a (watch it here), which I will link. This is on YouTube. And another was by ESPN (watch it here), which I mentioned at the start, and I sort of broke these down and took facts from them to compile into today’s Aussie fact.

Alright, so Sir Donald Bradman. Sir Donald Bradman was born on the 27th of August in 1908, so 110 years ago, nearly. And he passed away, he died on the 25th of February in 2001. So, what is that? He was 90-something years old. And he was the greatest cricket player of all time. Statistically, there’s no one even close.

His first cricket Test match was in 1928 and he played for 20 years until the end of 1948. On average, he scored 99.94 runs per cricket match, which is absolutely astonishing. And when you compare that to modern-day cricket superstars, Australians like Ricky Ponting or Steve Smith, he scores nearly two times as many runs on average. Insane.

So, Bradman was 12 years old, he was only 12 years old, when he first scored 100 runs in a cricket match, his first century. And as a kid, he would hone his skills in by spending hours hitting a golf ball against a round brick wall with a cricket stump in his backyard. And that’s insane when you think, a golf ball’s round, a cricket stump is round, and he was hitting it against this small brick surface, which was also round. So, there’s a really cool video online, which again, I’ll try and include in the transcript, guys, and it shows just how insane his hand-eye coordination was from training like this.

So, Bradman is so loved by the Australian public, there are stamps of him, books, coins, songs, TV series, and even a museum that’s been built in his memory.

What’s even more astonishing about Sir Don Bradman’s average of nearly 100 runs per game is that back in that early period of cricket, in the early 20th century, cricket bats were actually much smaller and lighter, which made it a lot harder to hit balls further and higher. So, you couldn’t as easily hit them to score fours or to score sixes. These are the numbers of runs. If you score a 4, that is to hit the ball along the ground, it bounces in the field, but makes it all the way to the boundary. And a six is when you completely hit it out of the ground. So, because the bats were so much smaller and lighter, instead of being able to just hit it out of the ground more easily, he had to try and weave it around the fielders, he had to try and evade and get past fielders and be much more of a cunning player. So, we can only imagine what Bradman would have done or would have been capable of if he’d had one of the modern-day bats to use back then.

Modern-day batters also done a great deal more safety equipment today including chest, thigh, and leg pads, arm and neck guards, and thick gloves, and a helmet. So, whereas in Bradman’s day, they only had leg pads and some simple gloves to cover the hand. And this made scoring runs even harder as you often had to get out of the way of the ball to avoid being injured. Whereas today, with all the protection, you are probably much more likely to allow a ball to hit you, at least, you would more readily do so, because of the protection you have.

The pitches on which cricket is played today as well are a great deal more advanced test and they are really well maintained compared to back in Bradman’s day when he was at his prime. There are teams of people who have full-time jobs as green keepers and curators dedicated to growing, manicuring, and maintaining the grass on these pitches, they flatten it, they paint it, they make sure that it stays dry and incredibly compacted, incredibly hard, keeping all moisture out so that the balls bounce really well on these pitches. However, obviously, in Bradman’s day, pitches were a lot less well maintained. They would suck in the moisture, they would be a lot less even, so the balls would bounce all over the place, and if it rained during the day, the conditions would change, because they wouldn’t cover the pitches.

Another big difference is the technology available today to cricket players. So, bowlers and batters can use apps and online technology now to find out and research about other people that they’re playing against. So, they can work out how to better bowl out batters or how to better avoid certain bowlers using sophisticated plans. In Bradman’s day, they didn’t even have TV, didn’t even have tele. So, nowhere near as much information was available about players, and more often than not, you would be walking out into a game blind. You would have no idea about what the other person or the other team was capable of.

Despite this, today’s cricketers believe that Bradman, if he were alive today, he would still give bowlers a run for their money and that they would find him to be a tough cookie as he would have found a way to get around them and counteract anything that they threw at him.

Fielders are also a great deal more athletic today. They dive, they leap, they jump, they try and catch balls a great deal more, and a part of this, as well as the skill of batters and bowlers today, is the fact that they can train every single day. This is their full-time job. Whereas, surprisingly enough, sir Donald Bradman had to train only a few days a week and outside of cricket he had to have another full-time job, because cricket just didn’t pay.

So, why wasn’t Bradman’s average 100? In the last ever game that he played in 1948, as you heard at the start of this episode, when he was about to play his 80th test match innings, he came out onto the ground, he only needed four runs in order to finish with a career average of 100, however, incredibly, the greatest batsmen of all time in cricket was bowled out for a duck, meaning that he was bowled out before he scored a single run. To be bowled out for a duck.

Anyway guys, I hope you will agree that Sir Donald Bradman was an amazing cricket player. Do you think he was the greatest cricket player of all time? And how do you think he’d go if he were to play cricket today nearly 90 years after he first stepped onto the pitch?

Anyway, guys. It’s been great chatting to you. I hope you have an amazing week and I’ll see you soon!

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