In cricket, the term wicket has multiple meanings. First, it refers to one of the two sets of three stumps and two bails at either end of the pitch, which the fielding team’s players can hit with the ball in various ways to get a batsman out. Second, it refers to the guarded area, where a batsman, with his bat and sometimes with his pads, attempts to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket while also trying to score runs.
Additionally, the dismissal of a batsman is commonly known as taking a wicket, while the cricket pitch itself is sometimes referred to as the wicket.
History of Wickets:
The term wicket’s origin is from wicket gate, a small gate. Originally, cricket wickets had only two stumps and one bail and looked like a gate, similar to the wicket used in the North American game of wicket. The third (middle) stump was introduced in 1775, after Lumpy Stevens bowled three successive deliveries to John Small that went straight through the two stumps rather than hitting them.
Stumps and Bails:
The size and shape of the wicket have changed several times during the last 300 years. The current dimensions and placing of the wicket are determined by Law 8 in the Laws of Cricket. The wicket consists of three wooden stumps, which are 28 inches (71.12 cm) tall and positioned along the batting crease with equal distances between each stump. They are placed so they are 9 inches (22.86 cm) wide, and two wooden bails are placed in shallow grooves on top of the stumps. The bails must not project more than 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) above the stumps, and for cricket, they must be 4.31 inches (10.95 cm) long. The umpires may dispense with the bails if conditions are unfit, such as if it is too windy, they might fall off by themselves.
Putting down a wicket:
The wicket is the fielding team’s target, as the bowler and fielders can dismiss the batter by hitting the wicket with the ball or prevent run-scoring by managing or threatening to run out batters. For a batsman to be dismissed, his wicket needs to be put down. This can occur when a fielder throws the ball at the wicket or hits it with the ball in hand. A wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, a stump is struck out of the ground, a fielder pulls a stump out of the ground, or if the detached debris from a broken bat breaks the wicket.
Special situations may also arise, such as if one bail is off, removing the remaining bail or striking or pulling any stump out of the ground is sufficient to put the wicket down. If both bails are off, a fielder must strike or pull any stump out of the ground with the ball, or with a hand or arm, provided that the ball is held in the hand(s) so used or in the hand of the arm used. If the umpires have agreed to dispense with bails, the decision as to whether the wicket has been put down is for the umpire concerned to decide.
Modern Innovations in Wickets
One of the most significant modern innovations in cricket is the use of LED wickets. According to the ICC Playing Conditions, the moment the wicket is put down is determined by the first frame in which the LED lights illuminate and subsequent frames show the bail permanently removed from the top of the stumps. However, the manufacturer is currently reviewing the LED wicket’s performance after criticism from international cricketers during the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Dismissal of a Batsman and Wicket-Related Terminology
In cricket, the dismissal of a batsman is known as the taking of a wicket. Whether the dismissal involves the stumps and bails or not, the batsman is said to have lost his wicket, and the fielding side is said to have taken a wicket. The number of wickets lost is also an essential component of a team’s score, along with the total number of runs scored.
Batting partnerships are also referred to as wickets, depending on the number of wickets lost during the partnership. For example, the first wicket partnership refers to the time between the start of the innings and the loss of the first wicket, while the second wicket partnership refers to the time between the loss of the first wicket and the loss of the second wicket, and so on. The last wicket partnership refers to the time between the eleventh (last) batsman starting to bat and the loss of the tenth (last) wicket.
Winning by Number of Wickets
A team can win a cricket match by a certain number of wickets. This means that they were batting last and reached the winning target with a certain number of batsmen still not dismissed. For example, if the team scored the required number of runs to win with only three batsmen dismissed, they are said to have won by seven wickets.
The Pitch and Other Sports
The term “wicket” is sometimes used to refer to the cricket pitch itself, although this usage is technically incorrect. Additionally, in croquet and Roque, the arches used are referred to as wickets. In baseball, the strike zone is similar to the wicket, in that a batter who fails to hit a ball that is going towards the strike zone is at risk of being out.