Bowl 'em a googly! Mixed up sporting metaphors!
“...her loving subjects going away regretting they had not performed well and feeling, too, that the monarch had somehow bowled them a googly.”
Quote taken from Alan Bennett's novel The Uncommon Reader (Profile Books, 2007 p. 41).
I found this in a novel the other day and assumed it was cricket related but it sounded awfully like the US saying “throw somebody a curve.” This could be rendered into more formal English with the verb trick or deceive but I would go with the more flamboyant bamboozle, which I happen to love! In fact, I would bet the meaning is exactly the same. I do like this new twist on an old saw. It is not surprising as cricket and baseball are sporting cousins.
Anyway, my research showed that googly is a common cricket term in Australia and dates from the early 20th century.
For years, a favorite verb has been “balk” meaning to refuse to do something flatly and definitively, although I have always assumed this came from the noun “balk” which indicates an illegal motion by the pitcher. This may involve too long a pause between the windup and the pitch. Or something like that!