The twelfth man is the name given to a substitute in cricket. However while in other sports such as football and rugby where substitutes may be used by choice, a twelfth man is only allowed to play if a member of the starting eleven sustains an injury during the match. Law 2 of the Laws of Cricket deals with substitutes, when they are allowed to come onto the pitch and what they are allowed to do. Basically the umpire has to be convinced that a player has been injured since the starting eleven was announced if he is to allow the twelfth man to take his place. If the umpire is satisfied with the legality of a substitution then the twelfth man is allowed to take the place of the injured player but only to field. The twelfth man is not allowed to bowl, bat or keep wicket. This is to prevent a team from using one player to bowl and another to bat, thus giving them a significant advantage. If a player is off the field for more than 15 minutes then when they return they are not allowed to bowl until they have been on the field for the same length of time that they were off it.

Despite the strict law governing when a player can be substituted it is common these days for bowlers to take "rests" for up to 30 minutes following a particularly strenuous bowling spell. This simply involves them claiming to have a slight niggle that they think should be treated. The advantages for the fielding side are that a fresh and more athletic fielder can come onto the pitch and their primary fast bowler gets a nice rest. It is likely that you will see this happen in almost every international test match played these days.

In international games it has become traditional for the twelfth man to be a player of the local team whose home ground the match is being played at. Often a young player or possible future addition to the squad is used as the substitute fielder. This fielder is often different from the twelfth man named in the squad who is there to step in in case of injury rather than act simply as a substitute fielder.

Being twelfth man is a well known booby prize in school or low level cricket. The player must turn up to the match with very little hope of playing. Once there they are frequently pressed into the less desirable roles such as scoring, making the tea or looking after the kit. In school cricket the rules are more lax and the twelfth man will often be brought on to field for part of the game to try and include him rather than force him to sit by all afternoon. To be selected twelfth man is almost worst than being dropped. It is essentially a non-playing role, designed not for those close to actual selection but for those who are willing or enthusiastic enough to turn up and score.

Originally a cricket term, the Twelfth Man has been borrowed to describe an aspect of home advantage in football N.B. Americans, this is soccer.

A normal football team, like a cricket team, has eleven players (I wonder if there's some significance there?). When a team is playing at its home ground, it is assumed that they have the advantage. Two-leg games use this assumption to motivate the oft-controversial away goals rule; that scoring at home is easier than scoring away.

One reason for this is the Twelfth Man. Inevitably, the home team has more fans in the stadium than the away team. These home fans spur on their team and boo the opposition, and can sometimes add that vital psychological edge that helps one team overcome another. This extra support is what is called the Twelfth Man

Arguably, in much modern football the effect of the Twelfth Man is diminished, as more people travel to away games and crowds are much less rowdy since the abolition of stands. However, some teams like Turkey's Galatasaray, use it to great effect; their stadium is nicknamed simply 'Hell'.

In American football, "the twelfth man" is a phrase often used to refer to the home spectators. The home team coach might acknowledge a particularly loud and boisterous crowd in a post-game interview by saying "That crowd was really a twelfth man for us out there tonight."

American football is perhaps uniquely suited to crowd intervention, as a play is started by a series of verbal signals by the quarterback. At the very least, these signals indicate when the play should start (on the nth repetition of the syllable "hut"), and thus a mis-hearing could cause a false start along the line. At worst, in an audible situation the QB is actually changing the play at the line, and thus the offensive players need to be able to understand what is being yelled. A good crowd will make noise while their team is on defense, trying to disrupt the visitors' signals; this is particularly common on third down situations when the offense needs to advance a certain distance to continue its drive.


The most well-known "twelfth man" tradition in football is that of Texas A&M University. This tradition dates back to a 1922 game vs. Centre College. In those days, players played both offense and defense, and substitutions were fairly limited, so coaches did not see much need in carrying vast numbers of reserve players.

As the game wore on, several A&M players were injured (in an era when padding was frowned upon), and the team was running out of substitutes by halftime. Coach Dana X. Bible remembered that a former player, E. King Gill, was watching from the stands and press box, and called him to the bench. He was asked to suit up for the second half and did so, standing ready in case he was needed. He did not play in the game, but his simple willingness to be there in time of need became an enduring tradition.

During a game at Kyle Field, A&M students stand -- they do NOT sit down -- in a nod to Gill's standing ready to help the team. Furthermore, a squad of students to serve as walk-on (non-scholarship) players is recruited before every season. One of these players plays on every Aggie kickoff, wearing jersey number 12, and the stadium celebrates whenever the 12th Man makes the tackle of the opposing returner.

Source: http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/12thman.shtml

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