Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/263

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241
CAPTAINCY.

merely greasy on the top, like a slab of slate swilled over with a mop; the second when the turf is wet for a couple of inches or so on the top, but quite dry underneath.

A wicket that is greasy on the top does not cause the captain much difficulty. It is essentially a batsman's wicket, for it is in a way more true than one that is hard and dry. The ball keeps quite straight upon it, since it cannot possibly bite the ground, which offers the least possible frictional resistance. In addition to this, the bowler is probably much handicapped by the fact that the ball soon becomes wet and greasy itself, so that he cannot get a proper grasp of it to impart spin. The ball, perhaps, comes along faster from the pitch than when the wicket is in any other state, and this is all that the batsman need fear. Notice that bowlers can get a perfectly good foothold on such a wicket. It is the result of a shower or a very slight drizzle upon a wicket that was previously hard, dry, and true. The process of drying, which, as will be shown, is the disturbing element in states of wicket, does not in any way affect the batsman. As the top dampness disappears, the wicket resumes its former state.

A wicket that is wet to the depth of a few inches is different. It is the result of a somewhat heavier fall of rain upon a hard, dry wicket. Usually a sudden downpour which lasts long enough to soak in a few inches, but not to thoroughly sink into the ground, produces such a wicket. The water suffices to make the wicket damp and soft to a very slight depth, and is then exhausted. While this wicket is still damp the ball usually cuts through, and consequently keeps quite straight and simple. Occasionally, however, the ball will bump somewhat. If the sun shines strongly directly after the rain, the ground may be very sticky and difficult for a short time, but only for a short time, as the moisture is very quickly absorbed, and the ground becomes hard and true again. On the other hand, if it dries slowly, without the sun's emphatic aid, the ground passes from the cutting-through stage to a slow stage, and then gradually back to a dry state. During this slow-drying process the ball is liable to come at different paces off the pitch, sometimes cutting through and whipping along first, sometimes hurrying or rising slowly. But the transitional state is in any case brief, and two good batsmen are quite likely to last out until the danger is past. So it is not a wicket to put the other side in upon, except as a daring experiment. A captain with a strong bowling and weak batting side, opposed to a side strong in both respects, may be inclined to agree that as he cannot win by his batting, his bowlers