Guys, does anyone know the answer?
get still the pitch is under covers. could be a while before we get started from screen.
An examination of the covering of pitches in first-class cricket in England provides an interesting study of a law that has progressed from the most primitive terminology to the most involved. As the provisions in this regard do not pertain to the actual playing of the game, but come into force only when play is not in progress (either before or during a match), the opportunity for a possible breach in the law to occur is all the more real. Breaches certainly have frequently occurred -- even in Test matches -- but as they are most likely to occur out of the public gaze or when the public are scurrying for shelter in a sudden downpour, they escape public censure -- always supposing, that is, that the public are aware of the precise regulations obtaining. Ground authorities and the appointed umpires have more than once blatantly acquiesced in a flouting of the law with regard to covering, and indeed sometimes seem to have created their own laws for a particular match or matches. The absence of a groundman at a crucial moment may also add to the difficulty of applying strictly the letter of the law.
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A history of wicket-covering in England
An examination of the covering of pitches in first-class cricket in England provides an interesting study of a law that has progressed from the most primitive terminology to the most involved. As the provisions in this regard do not pertain to the actual of the game, but come into force only when play is in progress (either before or during a match), the opportunity for a possible breach in the law to occur is all the more real. Breaches certainly have frequently occurred -- even in Test matches -- but as they are most likely to occur out of the public gaze or when the public are scurrying for shelter in a sudden downpour, they escape public censure -- always supposing, that is, that the public are aware of the precise regulations obtaining. Ground authorities and the appointed umpires have more than once blatantly acquiesced in a flouting of the law with regard to covering, and indeed sometimes seem to have created their own laws for a particular match or matches. The absence of a groundman at a crucial moment may also add to the difficulty of applying strictly the letter of the law.
The earliest laws of all contained no provision for the covering of the wicket, but before the eighteenth century was out the first mention had appeared. This is an interestingly early emergence of a law not dealing with the conduct of the game, and it is legitimate to surmise that the practising cricketer of 200 years ago was as much concerned with the effect of the weather on his game as is his counterpart of today. What more natural, then, than to seek some measure to combat the vagaries of the climate? The first revision of the laws carried out by M.C.C. -- in May, 1788, shortly after the club's formation -- provided for the covering of the pitch during a match by mutual consent. *
*Though no version of the 1788 revision can be traced, the edition of Britcher for 1796 (the first edition to include the laws) attributes this provision to 1788.
And this right remained with captains for very nearly a hundred years, until the substantially revised code was adopted in April, 1884.
However, any form of covering in those years was very much the exception, rain falling freely on all grounds so that it was not uncommon for fresh wickets to be pitched in the midst of a match (e.g. during Canterbury Week of 1872). Some captains even agreed beforehand to play each innings on a fresh pitch. M.C.C., in a spirit of reform in 1872, tested the idea of covering the wicket at Lord's with tarpaulin, but the experiment -- in a very wet summer -- was a failure. Lillywhite's , reviewing that season, remarked that "if one contemplated a visit to Lord's or Prince's, it was about an even chance whether one found the match progressing, or the wicket covered with a tarpaulin and the elevens shivering disconsolately in the pavilion." This seems to be the earliest regular use of pitch-covers in major cricket. Tarpaulin covers protected the carefully-prepared wicket before the start of the University Match at Lord's in 1875, but when these were similarly laid down to protect the pitch from a storm on the eve of the 1878 match, there was an objection on the morning of the game so that the stumps had to be drawn and pitched on a then imperfectly prepared wicket higher up the ground. Tarpaulins were occasionally used elsewhere (without objection) and, by an arrangement between the captains, in the Surrey v. Middlesex match at The Oval in 1881 the wicket was protected by tarpaulins before the match and also at the end of each day's play.
The revised code of 1884 made it illegal to cover the wicket -- with or without consent -- once the game had begun. For all its merits, the 1884 code still left some untidy ends, one of which was the absence of any authority on the matter of wicket-covering the commencement of a game. Lord Hawke successfully objected to play starting in the Roses match at Old Trafford in 1894 (John Briggs' benefit) when the wicket had been protected from rain, and a fresh pitch was marked out. (May 17, 1894) stated that it was an unwritten law, the outcome of established usage, that no artificial covering is admissible in the preparation of pitches for County matches. However, with nothing in the laws to prevent pre-match covering, groundmen, after suffering years of treacherous conditions due to overnight rain, in the course of time resorted to the protection of their wickets before county matches to such an extent that M.C.C. issued a specific ruling prohibiting the covering of wickets during the 24 hours prior to the scheduled start of a match. Still the injunction was ignored, and after several years of its being ignored -- perhaps its absence from the laws proper did not give it the force it required -- the M.C.C. Committee on June 20, 1907, reiterated the position and approved the following for publication:
"That the Counties should be advised to instruct their Groundmen not to cover a pitch within 24 hours of a County Match."
This followed the Sussex v. Hampshire match at Chichester (then staging a solitary first-class match a year) in May 1907, when the visitors consented to play on a pitch that had been protected from the rain of the previous days.
Naturally, a good many pitches were damaged by rain even before a ball was bowled, and almost at once M.C.C.'s pronouncement -- in pavilions at least -- was regarded as an obsolete regulation. A writer in 1909 commented: "Modern resources could assuredly prepare a sixty-feet covering removable when play begins. No doubt this will come." The 1907 season itself, when M.C.C. showed renewed concern over illegitimate protection of wickets, had been such a wet summer that pitch after pitch throughout the country was either saturated or affected in some way by rain on one or more of the days.
The Sticky Wicket: How rain used to influence cricket pitches
Although they have not been part of cricket for forty years, "sticky wickets" are still mentioned both in and out of a cricket context. What was a sticky wicket, how did it arise and what was it like to bat on one?
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HomeThe Sticky Wicket: How rain used to influence cricket pitches
The Sticky Wicket: How rain used to influence cricket pitches
10 May 2022 sarastro77
Archie MacLaren, Cricket, Donald Bradman, Herbert Sutcliffe, Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Monty Noble, Sticky wicket, Victor Trumper
CLR James, Donald Bradman, George Headley, groundstaff, Hedley Verity, Herbert Sutcliffe, Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Monty Noble, pitches, Sticky dog, Sticky wicket, Victor Trumper, Wilfred Rhodes
Donald Bradman’s skied shot against Hedley Verity at Lord’s on a sticky wicket in 1934; watching (left to right) are Herbert Sutcliffe, Les Ames (who eventually caught the ball) and Wally Hammond. (Image: The Cricketer, 30 June 1934)
One of the clichés of cricket broadcasting during unsettled weather is to display images of the anxious-looking groundstaff glancing at the sky and making preparations to get the covers on at the first sight of rain. But this reaction is a modern phenomenon. For many years, cricket pitches were left uncovered during the hours of play, whatever the weather. If it rained, the players ran off but the pitch remained exposed and could potentially be soaked. This obviously affected its behaviour; given the right circumstances of sun or wind after the rain stopped, the pitch could become impossibly difficult for batting as it began to dry out. This phenomenon — the “sticky wicket” or the “sticky dog” — was so well-known that the phrase to describe it has survived into everyday usage even today, many years after the last sticky wicket was seen in top-class cricket.
Sticky wickets were never the default condition. Despite the lack of covering, most pitches — particularly in England in the twentieth century — were good for batting. During dry weather, they behaved largely as they do today. When older players or journalists discuss uncovered pitches, they sometimes give an impression that batting was always difficult, but this was only the case after rain had fallen; even then, conditions had to be right to produce a “sticky”. However, the impact of these wickets upon the course of cricket matches was enormous when they did occur.
For faster bowlers, a sticky wicket meant inaction: the slippery conditions made it was almost impossible for a bowler to run up at pace to deliver the ball. Although the bulk of the bowling was therefore done by spinners, who could bowl from a shorter run-up and did not require firm ground, a fast bowler would have been able to exploit the conditions just as well had he been able to keep his footing. For slow bowlers, a sticky wicket offered compensation for days of toil on unhelpful surfaces but still represented a challenge as accuracy was vitally important if the conditions were to be exploited. Finger spinners in particular could be utterly deadly on a drying pitch. So what happened when there was a sticky wicket?
Among players, the phenomenon was well understood and involved several stages. Rain made the pitch very soft; at this time, it was useless for bowlers. As described by Archie MacLaren — a deep thinker on the game — in an article for The Cricketer in July 1922: “When the wicket is very soft and the ball cuts through, taking the top with it, the conditions are all in favour of the bat.” The ball tended to die after pitching and no-one could turn the ball on a wet surface. Depending on how wet the pitch was, the ball might come off the pitch slowly, making it hard to time shots, but batting was easy enough.
The key moment came when the pitch began to dry. If it dried slowly, perhaps on a cold and cloudy day, the batters might survive without too much trouble. It was when the pitch dried quickly that problems arose: the worst circumstances for batting were when rain was followed by hot sun (or sometimes a drying breeze). This was when the pitch was deemed “sticky”. Although there were variations as to how the ball might behave after pitching, on a genuine sticky pitch the players could expect the ball to turn sharply with even a small amount of spin imparted. Some balls might turn sharply, others might skid through. And worse for the batters, there was often wildly uneven bounce; the ball might rear head high or shoot through at shin height. The combination was potentially impossible.
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At the Oval in 1968, Derek Underwood bowled England to victory over Australia on a sticky wicket. Wisden said that he “found the drying pitch ideal for this purpose. He received just enough help to be well nigh unplayable.”
There were various explanations of what happened: some suggested that the pitch “crusted”, allowing the ball to grip far more sharply than usual. Others said that when the ball pitched, it dug into the drying pitch, causing the soil in front of it to “pile up” and therefore bounce unpredictably. And others thought that the indentations made by the ball when the pitch was wet began to cause huge problems once they dried hard, creating horribly uneven bounce. MacLaren’s view in 1922 was: “As the wicket dries the ball will cause the turf to stick up in tufts, when it will kick up awkwardly and the slips be likely to get several easy catches. As the game goes on, and there are drying conditions, the side which bats last on the now dried, uneven surface has a very poor time, since this is one of the most difficult wickets on which to play good-length bowling, with a bit of pace behind it, the ball playing extraordinary antics throughout.”
Protection of modern pitches means the ‘sticky wicket’ has had its day
Over its history, cricket has developed a language of its own. In so doing, it has been responsible for introducing words and phrases, unique to the game, into common usage or adapting simple words and making them specific to cricket. An obvious example of the former is “playing with a straight bat,” meaning to act in an upright, honest and respectful manner. An example of the
Protection of modern pitches means the ‘sticky wicket’ has had its day
Cricket has had an uneasy relationship with rain throughout its history. (AFP)
Rain has for centuries caused havoc with surfaces but new covering measures mean more predictable conditions
Updated 19 October 2022
September 22, 2022 12:42
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Over its history, cricket has developed a language of its own. In so doing, it has been responsible for introducing words and phrases, unique to the game, into common usage or adapting simple words and making them specific to cricket.
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An obvious example of the former is “playing with a straight bat,” meaning to act in an upright, honest and respectful manner.
An example of the latter is “sticky wicket,” where a difficult, even treacherous, situation is encountered. In cricket, this situation was created by a particular combination of rain, sun and wind.
Cricket has had an uneasy relationship with rain throughout its history. It makes a pitch soft, the degree of softness depending upon the hardness and quality of the pitch prior to rain, the rain’s intensity and the type of soil on which it fell. If, once play resumes, the pitch is very soft, the ball will cut through the surface, taking a piece of the top with it, leaving a mark and/or a tuft. On harder pitches, the ball may skim through or bounce steeply.
Anticipating how a pitch will play after rainfall is not an easy task, as there are so many variables to consider. One of these is how quickly the pitch will dry. Rain, followed by hot sun and/or a drying breeze, provides conditions for a sticky wicket to reveal its character. Conditions for batting become problematic, as the ball could be spun quite sharply, with the patches on the damaged pitch creating a surface from which the ball could either rear to head height or shoot through at ankle level.
A wet outfield stops the progress of the ball across it and the movement of fielders is impeded. The area over which the bowler approaches the crease, the runup, becomes difficult to navigate, increasing the importance of slow bowlers, especially those possessing the guile to extort maximum advantage.
It is logical to think that measures would be taken to minimize the effects of rain. Throughout the 17th, 18th and the first half of the 19th century, pitches were uncovered and open to the elements, largely because of a lack of effective materials. It is reasonable to assume that the players of the day would be as concerned as current ones about the loss of play to rain and its effect on the wicket. There would have been considerable concern amongst participants in matches played for wagers about the negative impact of rain on the outcome. Indeed, a revision to the Laws in 1788 included a provision for the covering of the pitch during a match by mutual consent, a situation that remained in place for another 100 years.
In those days players did not have to worry about overarm bowling, which was legalized in 1864. The downward pressure exerted by overarm action to pitch the ball, compared with underarm delivery, which started its trajectory by travelling upwards or horizontally, caused the ball to bounce higher. This could be head high and potentially dangerous. Bowlers lengthened their runups before delivering the ball, which, in wet conditions, was hazardous.
It should be of little surprise, then, that calls for the ends of pitches, at least, to be covered, grew. In experiments at Lords between 1872 and 1875, prepared pitches were covered with tarpaulin before the match. The results were not satisfactory and, in 1884, a revision of the Laws made it illegal to cover the wicket — with or without consent — once the game had begun. There was no mention of wicket covering before the match began.
Given this imprecise guidance, individual administrators and groundkeepers took it upon themselves to decide when pitches should be covered. The potential loss of income caused by rain-affected matches was enough to influence their decisions. By 1910, protection of pitch ends during playing hours was introduced.
The responsibility for making and maintaining the Laws was vested in the Marylebone Cricket Club or MCC. This notoriously conservative body embraced a view that pitch covering ran contrary to the spirit of the game. Its members were also probably of the view that batting on unpredictable, sticky wickets was regarded as a supreme test of skill. Another 70 years would pass before pitch protection against rain at all times for Test matches was authorized in 1979 and, for all first-class games, in 1982. In the intervening years, the age of the sticky wicket had its heyday.
In extreme circumstances, a benign pitch could turn into one on which only the greatest players could succeed. There are famous examples of this, Hobbs and Sutcliffe of England being classic exponents. In mid-August 1926, an overnight storm in South London turned the pitch at the Oval into a quagmire. Australia expected the rapidly drying pitch to assist them to defeat England. Yet, on a venomously spitting pitch, the pair scored a 100 and 161, respectively, to create a winning basis for England.