The rules of single wicket

1. When there shall be less than five players on a side, the bounds shall be placed twenty-two yards each in a line from the off and leg stump.

2. The ball must be hit before the bounds to entitle the striker to a run, which run cannot be obtained unless he touch the bowling stump or crease in a line with his bat, or some part of his person, or go beyond them, returning to the popping crease, as at double wicket, according to the 21st Law.

3. When the striker shall hit the ball, one of his feet must be on the ground, and behind the popping crease, otherwise the umpire shall call "No hit."

4. When there shall be less than four players on a side, neither byes nor overthrows shall be allowed, nor shall the striker be caught out behind the wicket, nor stumped out.

5. The fieldsman must return the ball so that it shall cross the play between the wicket and the bowling stump, or between the bowling stump and the bounds; the striker may run till the ball be so returned.

6. After the striker shall have made one run, if he start again he must touch the bowling stump and turn before the ball cross the play, to entitle him to another.

7. The striker shall be entitled to three runs for lost ball, and the same number for ball stopped with hat, with reference to the 28th and 33rd Laws of double wicket.

8. When there shall be more than four players on a side, there shall be no bounds. All hits, byes, and overthrows shall then be allowed.

9. The bowler is subject to the same laws as at double wicket.

10. Not more than one minute shall be allowed between each ball.

Observations of Rule 3, 4 and 5.

The use of the "bowling crease" is to insure the delivery of the ball from a point not nearer to the batsman than the opposite wicket; the bowler may deliver, though he would hardly care to do so, from any distance behind the crease; the rule only insists that at least one foot shall be behind it.

The return crease is to keep the bowler within reasonable limits as to lateral deviation from the wickets.

This is a matter of no slight importance, as it is evident that any material edging off to one side would completely stultify all attempts of the batsman to obtain a correct guard, and would moreover, leave him constantly uncertain as to the precise spot from which the ball would be delivered, and thus render a correct defense impossible.

The use of the popping crease is to confine the batsman to his wicket, and to mark out some definite space as his ground, beyond which he can stir only at the risk of being run out or stumped out.

Were there no distinct mark, umpires would be unable to come t o a satisfactory decision in cases of delicacy, where an inch more or less is a matter of life or death to the batsman; and umpires should, therefore, be very careful that the popping crease is accurately and distinctly traced.

Its length is unlimited, that a player may not be put out for running to one side of his ground, a practice not much to be commended, certainly, when unnecessary, but one which is sometimes unavoidable in case of a rush of fielders between wickets.

A player should of course, when practicable, take the nearest and, therefore, the straightest line between the wickets; but when the way is not clear, a slight run round is often good policy.

Rule 9. 'One foot' means here any part of one foot. Some umpires, specially amateur, are strongly impregnated with the idea that it is possible to deliver the ball with one foot before the crease and the other behind it, but off the ground - and all 'no ball' accordingly, to the extreme discomfiture of any round-arm bowler with a lively delivery, who happens to come within reach of their tender mercies.

Now, this supposed 'No ball' is simply a physical impossibility; let any man try to bowl - not chuck - but fairly bowl a ball with only the forward foot on the ground, and he will be convinced of the fact at once.

Another delusion, also very common, is, that fast bowlers drag their latter foot after them over the crease before delivery, and thus, of course, give 'no balls.' This, too, is almost an impossibility; the real fact is, as every one who will take the trouble to think must see at once, that the ball cannot be 'bowled' with any force or bias except from the firm fulcrum of the hinder foot, and consequently that any appearance of movement before the ball is delivered arises from defective judgment on the part of the umpire as to the correct sequence of the two events.

'Shall bowl four balls.' This rule may be, as is subject to agreement between the two parties playing. It is usual to play five balls or six to the over in one-day matches.

'Shall change wickets only once in one innings.' This is to prevent unfair advantage being taken by changing constantly a crack bowler from end to end to the manifest detriment of the opponents.

Rule 10. The ball must be bowled, not thrown or jerked. The difference between throwing and bowling is very difficult to define in words, though in its main features easy enough in action; there are, though, forms of bowling very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from throwing. These must be left to the umpire.

Practically an umpire will not interfere, unless the bowler's style be palpably unfair.

A ball is jerked when the hand or arm is at the moment of delivery arrested suddenly by contact with the side.

This jerking imparts to the ball, in some mysterious way, a life and fury highly dangerous to the batsman; and is for this reason sternly prohibited.

No umpire, however lax upon the subject of throwing delivery, would tolerate for a moment the least approach to a jerk.

Rule 12. The umpire in this case, as in some others, must use his own judgment as to the ball passing within reach. A deal depends on the height of the batsman, a tall man having, of course, a longer reach than a short one. Should a ball that has been called 'wide' be hit, the wide is ipso facto annulled, and must not be scored.

Rule 13. 'All runs obtained from wide balls to be scored to wide balls."

This only applies to scores got from them as 'byes' - upon the principle that the bowler, and not the long-stop is responsible for a deficiency in the fielding.

Hits - as see last rule - are not contemplated in this direction.

Rule 14. 'No trial shall be allowed.' This does not inhibit a bowler from taking advantage of a pause in the game to try his hand with a ball or two at the side of the wickets; he must only be careful not to impede the course of the game. Rule 17. The ground is measured from crease to crease - i.e., from Popping Crease to the Bowler's crease; the foot must therefore be inside the Popping crease. If it be only on the crease, and the wickets be put down, the player is out.

Rule 19. The umpire must judge whether the interference with the catch has been accidental or intentional, and decide accordingly.

Rule 20. The player may block or knock the ball away from his wicket after he has played it; he only may not strike it with a view to run getting.

Rule 24. There is a good deal of difficulty about the application of this rule. As it stands, no round-arm bowler not bowling over the wicket over can get a man out "leg-before" unless with a "break-back ball." It has been proposed, with some show of reason and expediency, that the rule shall stand thus: "Any ball that, in the opinion of the umpires, would have hit the wicket." The test of actual practice can alone prove the real value of the proposed amendment. It must be remembered that a man may be out head before wicket; the only part of the person excepted is the hand from the wrist downward.

Rule 29. Here again, the umpire must rely wholly upon his own discretion. He must judge by the wicket-keeper's manner whether the ball be settled or not.

Rules 30, 31 and 32. Courtesy will always grant the required consent in all cases of real emergency; but courtesy and right feeling equally demand that no advantage shall be taken of the concession. If a man be partially incapacitated after a match is made up, a request for consideration is quite right; but no man ought to be deliberately played with the foreknowledge of his inability to discharge all his duties, and with the intention of supplementing his weak points by a substitute.

Rule 35. Umpires should pay special attention to this rule. As an actual fact, few but regular professionals have sufficient regard to its requirement and attentions. One reason is, that with a sharp, eager wicket-keeper, it makes no slight demand upon the umpire's keenness and attention to enforce the rule in its integrity, not to mention the necessity of no little firmness and decision, in checking any infraction of its regulations.

Rule 38. This rule is aimed against those persons, of whom, sad to say, there are too many in the world who are ready to take advantage of every omission and flaw in a law or a rule - the principle is the same - that can for the moment turn to their own benefit. In playing the game each side should play to win, and play its very best; but a victory won by sharp practice is no victory at all, and a defeat staved off by similar means is a defeat still.

Single wicket is not to be spoken of when double wicket is practicable, though I would qualify this if the double wicket were only possible with a tail of inferior players; better play a shorthanded game at single wicket with good players than a full-sided game at double wicket with inferior players.

There is nothing more deteriorating than play with inferior players; nothing more improving than play with superiors.

The Laws of Single Wicket.

Single wicket is not to be spoken of when double wicket is practicable, though I would qualify this if the double wicket were only possible with a tail of inferior players; better play a shorthanded game at single wicket with good players than a full-sided game at double wicket with inferior players.

There is nothing more deteriorating than play with inferior players; nothing more improving than play with superiors.

Single wicket, however, has one very useful quality; there is no better practice for hard hitting than a single-wicket match, with a bowler and two or three men in the field.

It is really astonishing the distance the ball must be hit with even only two good men in the field to get the one run.

To any one deficient in hard forward hitting I can recommend no better practice than a course of single wicket. I can in my own person testify strongly to the efficiency of the prescription.

Peddling about in one's blockhole is all very well - sometimes - at double wicket when the other batsman is making the runs, and all depends upon keeping the wickets up, but it does not pay in the long run, and what is more to the purpose, it is not Cricket.

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