Sticky Dog

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Sticky Dog

Sticky Dog is a metaphor used to describe a difficult situation in sports and cricket, in particular, caused by a sticky or wet field.

The very concept of the sticky wicket was first interpreted in The Language of Cricket (1934) as a surface that is in a sticky state. However, the term firmly came into use a little later. This was facilitated by the article “Sticky Dog is Put Down”, written by a famous English sports journalist in Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack (1981). After that, the concept became a household name.

At the moment, the term is used in a number of team sports, but it still owes its origin to cricket. In this case, the concept of sticky dog/sticky wicket/glue pot has several meanings, but, as a rule, it applies to the rectangular area of the field (pitch) between the wickets.

This area is covered with much shorter grass than the rest of the field or without it at all. Thus, this playing space is more susceptible to weather changes, which, in turn, cause the ball to bounce differently after a throw.

When rain falls, the area around the wicket gets wet, and the ball behaves unpredictably after the throw, which naturally complicates the batsman’s work. In particular, this can be noticed for any throw with rotation, the trajectory of which becomes difficult to predict. Moreover, as the field dries, the conditions of the ball’s rebound also change.

As soon as the wet surface begins to dry out in the sun, the ball begins to bounce sharply and randomly. Most batsmen agree that it is almost impossible to handle the ball in such a situation. However, some cricketers have managed to make a reputation for their outstanding abilities to perform on a sticky wicket. One of these players is the Australian Victor Trumper.

However, most often, the situation is the opposite. Perhaps one of the most famous people in the world of cricket – Don Bradman, included in the Top 5 Cricketers of the Century rating, spoiled his amazing track record with sticky dogs matches. Experts have studied and found an explanation for this annoying misunderstanding, but there is no way to correct it, as well as the statistics themselves.

Also among the striking examples of sticky dog is the Ashes Series in 1950-51, when the English team managed to turn the outcome of the meeting on their innings thanks to a wet field. However, everything changed once again when the strike position was changed. Australia made an unexpected breakthrough 32/7. The situation was reminiscent of ping-pong, where the initiative was constantly changing because the ball acted as if contrary to the law of gravity. Naturally, this caused confusion among analysts and a storm of emotions among the audience. A truly unimaginable game has gone down in the history of cricket for a long time.

How to avoid the sticky wicket situation? There is only one solution – to wait for the field to dry completely. This can be facilitated by favorable sunny weather. Since most matches are held under indoor arenas today, wet grounds can hardly be called a regular problem. Of course, there are some changes in the ball’s flight when the roof closes, but they are less significant compared to the wet surface of the field.

It can also be noted that the term is also common in American croquet, where it is used in an identical way to characterize a wet wicket (hoop).

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Nisha Bhavani
Author: Nisha Bhavani Position: Cricket Expert

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