I was surprised to find that the OED had an entry for nurdle, and had never associated it with either tiddlywinks or cricket (see below).
However I feel certain that it originates from a Goon Show script, and found this from Michael Bentine. I remember the hilarity when it was first performed in the 1950s. "Nurdling" referred to an imagined pub game.
Now the Goon Show ended in 1961 - and the first example below is from 1963 - so I am pretty sure, that this is the etymology - and the Oxford English Dictionary should be advised of the etymology.
Does everyone agree about this?
- transitive. Tiddlywinks. To shoot (a wink) into a position too close to the pot to be easily potted. Also intransitive.
1963 Winking World No. 4. 11 Nurdled: counter so near the beaker that it is not possible to flick it in.
1984 P. Beale Partridge's Dict. Slang (ed. 8) 1397/1 Nurdle, to play a wink into a position so near the pot it cannot be potted.
1994 Re: Postal Tiddlywinks in alt.games.tiddlywinks (Usenet newsgroup) 7 Nov. Green plays first. Green nurdles under the far side of the pot.
2010 Winking World (Electronic ed.) No. 93. 7/1 If you've tried to pot and missed, there's also a good chance of a wink being nurdled.
- transitive. Cricket. colloquial. To work (the ball) away gently, esp. to the leg side; to accumulate runs slowly by this method. Frequently in nudge and nurdle. Also to nurdle one's way and intransitive.
1985 Times (Nexis) 24 Dec. He crept, nudged and nurdled his way towards the total.
1992 Sunday Times (Nexis) 17 May (Sport) Russell, in a two-hour stint, nicked and nurdled to such advantage that 50 priceless runs were added in 20 overs.
1993 Manch. Guardian Weekly (Nexis) 31 Jan. 31 After struggling to locate the next dozen he tried to nurdle Raju's left-arm spin square on the leg side and was trapped in front.
2001 Evening Post (Nottingham) 10 Sept. 48 His hundred came from just 65 balls; Brown wisely electing thereafter to nudge and nurdle the ball into gaps.