The Cricinfo story on the running England-South Africa Test battle had an old irritant today:

Nevertheless, it was the change of pace that did for Duminy in the end, as Swann entered the attack in the 109th over, and true to his reputation, made an immediate impact. On the first day, he had needed three deliveries to remove another South African left-hander, Prince – this time he struck with his fifth ball, a sharply spinning offbreak that Collingwood snaffled at slip in a near-replica dismissal.

Of course, there are several irregularities here; the comma in the very first line should be after “and” and not before; that’s highly ridiculous though understandable since the writer must have been in a hurry on a news website. Again I would have opted for a semicolon after Prince, but that in itself might turn out to be just my peculiarity. However, what starts getting me is a needless use of the word “snaffle”; I saw the dismissals, and at the most the bowler snaffled the batsman overall, as Duminy was not looking particularly uncomfortable. To suggest that the catch itself was a snaffled one suggests the reflexes to be quicker than they were required in this case; the catch was a good one, but it was not something out of the ordinary, and if not bountiful, Collingwood did have ample time to take it, considering him to be an international-level cricketer. What irritated me highly though was that “near-replica dismissal.”

Along with its counterpart “exact replica,” I am almost dead tired and flogged and rinsed of replicas completely. The two dismissals, that of Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy, were exactly similar (note “exactly” is fine here); they were carbon copies! How to suggest that as near replicas beats me first of all, besides the further thought that what exactly is a “near replica”? The Oxford University Press says replica is “a very good or exact copy of sth”; so then is a near replica something which seems to have some resemblances to something when you can stretch your imagination a bit? To say nothing that here anyway they were perfect copies, not even good copies, so why this generous usage of words, and why not just “replica”, or to make your point sharper, “replica of a/the dismissal” (“replica” as noun, which always is preferable to me—avoids all confusion).

Of course, terms like “exact replica” are further off the mark, especially if you now move to Webster’s from Oxford, which says “replica” to be “a copy exact in all details”! So is an “exact replica” an “exact exact copy”? What exactly?

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