Constructing a cricket wicket could mean one of two processes--reparing the ground or putting stumps in the ground. "The wicket" most often means the pitch. The three stumps and two bails is usually called "the wickets." A wicket has several meanings. Others are, the batsman's life at the crease ("his wicket"), the act of dismissing the batsman ("getting a wicket") and the number of batsmen dismissed or remaining ( "the team was two wickets down"). Confused? Let's just construct a good turf wicket.
Prepare a large strip of clay or loam at least 12 feet wide and at least 90 feet long. The wickets will be 66 feet (22 yards or one chain) apart, and you need room at either end. The soil is very important. It must be capable of being rolled almost rock-hard and still let grass grow.
Sow the grass seed at least eight months before players need the wicket, says Julian Knight in "Cricket for Dummies."
Water and roll with a light roller as early as February. Progress to a heavy roller in late March and April. Use a spike roller to aerate the wicket, says the Institute of Groundsmanship. Increase rolling and watering as summer approaches, condensing the soil and encouraging grass growth. Later, when the grass is cut close, the wicket will need a good root system to keep it intact for the length of the game. Even so, cracks will appear about four days into a five-day test (international) because the wicket will not be watered once the game begins.
Cover the wicket, also known as the pitch, about two weeks before the scheduled match. Uncover it only to roll and water daily. Batsmen need the surface to be as flat as possible, to keep the bounce even and predictable.
Mow the grass, shaving it as close to the ground as possible, on the morning of the match. A well-grassed pitch may be moist; this will help a bowler move the ball sideways off the pitch. Early in a game, when the ball is hard and shiny and the wicket full of movement, batsmen are very vulnerable. Groundstaff want to be fair, and therefore they shave the grass low. The bowlers will have their turn when the wicket begins to crack and the ball will spin dramatically. Bowlers must try to run off the wicket in their follow-through steps, but they cannot help leaving footmarks that will become pronounced as the game progresses.
Complete preparations by marking out the wicket with white lines. Two bowling creases are 8 feet, 8 inches wide, with a mark for the middle stump in the centre of both. The batting, or "popping" creases are four feet inside the bowling creases and mark the batsman's safe ground.
Use core samples regularly, to test the compacted soil. Bouncing a cricket ball from a set height will also indicate how well the soil is compacted.
Tips and warnings
- Use core samples regularly, to test the compacted soil.
- Bouncing a cricket ball from a set height will also indicate how well the soil is compacted.