What is a sticky wicket?

Apr 21st, 2007, 07:26 AM
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What is a sticky wicket?

For my sport living friends in Great Britain. I am going to my first cricket match at the Lord cricket grounds and am trying to learn a little bit about the game first. From what I have read there are a few similarities with my favorite game of baseball. Try to make outs, score runs, pitch (bowl)and bat, umpires, fielders, etc... However, after checking the internet even some of the sites I have found have difficulty describing the game with such limited space as the INTERNET! Also, from previous posts I have read a very colorful language when discussing the game. If I were to take someone who has never experienced a baseball game but has a keen interest in sports, it would be difficult to discribe but doable. I don't get that feeling from cricket.
How would a brave sole with almost no understanding of the game have a good time at a cricket match? What are some of your favorite terms and descriptors of the game and what do they mean? I hope those who know the game have fun with this as I look forward to your replies. thereyet
ps. I already got my tickets so don't try to talk me out of it.
thereyet is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 07:26 AM
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oops, meant to say sport loving friends. thereyet
thereyet is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 07:59 AM
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Hi, The only references I have to hand are a school dictionary which defines the words "Sticky"(informal adjective) as 'Unpleasant' eg:
He'll come to a sticky end.
Also "sticky" meaning 'uncooperative' eg: She was very sticky about giving me an answer.
So, I guess "A sticky wicket" could mean unpleasant or uncooperative!

Kipling says this in my Oxford University Press Dictionary of Quotations " Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls,
With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals."
tod is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:12 AM
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I know very little about cricket but being on a sticky wicket means you're in bit of trouble - not BIG trouble, but in a difficult spot.

For example, if the bill for a romantic meal with that special someone comes to £50 & you only have £49 in your pocket & your credit card is declined then you're on a sticky wicket.

If your wife then turns up & catches you, that's BIG trouble.

JJBhoy is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:18 AM
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The wicket is the wooden frame consisting of three vertical members (stumps) and two horizontal ones (bails) resting across their tops. The bowler tries to get the ball past the batsman to dislodge the bails, rendering the batsman out.

If the ball hits the wicket and the bails don't fall off, the wicket is said to be "sticky" - and by extension, any situation that doesn't turn out as desired is rather a "sticky wicket."
Robespierre is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:25 AM
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Metaphorically, a "sticky wicket" means any sort of difficult situation to be in - with the implication that the speaker is extremely glad they're not in it.

Trouble is, because of the amount of time it's been around, cricket's given rise to an awful lot of literature (or a lot of awful literature), possibly because there's an awful lot of waiting for many of the participants, not to mention anyone trying to watch. That complicates most explanations.

Plus, with two teams of 11 players and two batsmen in play at any one time, there are a lot of different strategic and tactical possibilities available: and slightly different rules (and hence strategic/tactical options) apply depending on the format chosen for the game.

This is a very short explanation that corresponds to my limited understanding:


This is a bit more detailed, but comes from a reasonably reliable source:

PatrickLondon is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:31 AM
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With the Cricket World Cup still in progress, and the English season soon to start, here's a short version of the (complicated) rules for those of you who have not grown up with the game, Apparently it originally appreared on a tea towel...

""The definition of Cricket is simple (with apologies to an unknown wit).

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.

When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game! Simple! ""

But they only go in twice in Test Matches - most of the time it's one innings each! And they stand in positions called Silly Mid Off and Short Leg!

julia_t is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:39 AM
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We Irish have become experts on cricket since our team defeated Pakistan and Bangladesh in the one-day world championship.

While the term wicket can be used to mean the stumps and bails, it can also be used more generally to refer to the pitch, the closely-mown strip between the two wickets. The Wikipedia article has an explanation of sticky wicket: "The term sticky wicket refers to a situation in which the pitch has become damp, typically due to rain or high humidity. This makes the path of the ball more unpredictable thus making the job of defending the stumps that much more difficult."

One detail is missing. When a spin bowler is delivering the ball, it gets better purchase on a damp wicket and can turn more. That's what makes it difficult.
Padraig is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Robespierre to the rescue - with the right answer. Question from me: If the bails don't fall off then it's 'Not Out' right? I seem to think the bails are the criteria in cricket although they sit atop the 'stumps', (which the ball dislodges if the bowler has good aim!).
tod is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 09:01 AM
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Most terms derived from cricket, and its more colourful expressions (like bowling a maiden over, or standing at silly mid off), have little relevance for enjoying the game itself. At best they matter for deeper appreciation of the grand tactical and strategic issues that make cricket so enthralling to afficionados.

Many of them, though, are really there for the complex statistics the game generates, which are probably even more arcane, and more intensively stored and pored over, than in baseball ("the largest number of wides on the leg side in first class cricket since the Indians vs Cambridge University in 1902")

As in baseball, though, commentators' love of all this makes the game more easily understandable for a newcomer if you switch the commentary off.

All you really need to know is:
- it's Lord's. Nothing else. Tell the taxi driver to take you to Lord's.
- Just understand the scoreboard. If it's a one day match, there'll be a number of easily calculated objectives each team must achieve. Simply follow their performance, and what batters and bowlers are doing to get to those objectives. Whether he's hittng it to square point or he gets caught in the slips: it's not the terms that matter. It'll be clear who's trying to do what.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 10:25 AM
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The Wikipedia article is reasonably straightforward


It gives the basic rules but also has a list of terms including "Sticky wicket"
Josser is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 11:25 AM
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Flanneruk, I like your suggestion to keep it simple. One of the reasons I like Baseball is how it lends itself to statistical analysis. I am guessing I could turn out to be a good Cricket fan as well. The pace of the games are similarly slow which leaves plenty of time for the above. I love the colorful language and hope to pick a bit of that up while at the game. It is a twenty/twenty match that we are going to. Am told that is a tolerably shorter version of the game. Do they use simaler gloves to field a hit ball? thereyet
thereyet is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 11:49 AM
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Padraig gave the correct origin of the term "sticky wicket". It is indeed the pitch and not the stumps and bails to which the term refers.

Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: "An allusion to the game of cricket when a soft pitch causes greater difficulties for the batsman when the ball is delivered."

Longman Dictionary of English Idioms: "Refering to a situation in cricket when the state of the ground or the weather conditions make it difficult for the batsman to hit the ball."
Heimdall is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Don't you hate it when someone misles you? Cricket was explained to me by a Brit in 1963, and the above explanation seemed right to me. Now I can go to my grave with one less misconception. Let's see, that leaves...
Robespierre is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 12:39 PM
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hi, thereyet,

if you've got access to the internet, do try to tune into test match special [which you obviously do, silly me!] on BBC Radio 5 live [via the BBC web-site]. these chaps have got sports commentary down to a fine art. as well as statistics you will get sartorial tips, local colour, gossip, and occasionally the odd bit of cricket.

as for trying to talk you out of it, we wouldn't think of it. which match are you due to see?

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 02:34 PM
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Ann, we are going july 6th 5:30
Essex v Middlesex at the Lord's
20twenty match. Our first time to London and will be just one of the many things on our itinerary but I can't wait. On another post I thru this out to other Fodotites and it would be wonderful to meet some of you. Not to mention have someone help school a novice fan in the art of cricket.
Julia t, thanks for the ins and outs of the game. You make it sound quite simple really! thereyet
thereyet is offline  
Apr 21st, 2007, 05:07 PM
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You all make it sound great - wish I would be there too. I watch cricket teams sometimes in my local park in the summer. (My cat's name is "Googly" because when she was little she would jump up and change directions midair.)
ninasdream is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 12:11 AM
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Just to reiterate what flanner said. It's Lord's. Not "the Lord's" (that's a whole other sort of sticky wicket

It's a long day. If the weather's fine, you'll love it.
sheila is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 12:50 AM
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thereyet - fielders don't wear any gloves at all, they have to catch with their bare hands and yes, it is rock hard.

Someone has made a series of short videos explaining different aspects of cricket for the American audience that you can find on YouTube - just search for 'This is Cricket' and they should all come up.
nona1 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 02:16 AM
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Not to be taken too seriously, here is another fun explanation of the glorious game!


Twenty20 is great fun cricket - a short version with each side only playing 20 overs each, it is fast and furious with more aggressive batting and attempts to score as many runs as possible in the limited time. The match will only last 2 or 3 hours, but will be very exciting. You'll have a great time!
julia_t is offline  

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