Here's a "wicket" way to spend a summer afternoon. Anyone for croquet?
You will need
- A croquet set including nine wickets and two stakes
- An open field
- Two to six players
Step 1 Set up the course Plant seven wickets in the ground at the points of two imaginary end-to-end diamonds in a figure-eight pattern, and an eighth and ninth wicket near the top and bottom wickets. Plant stakes just beyond the top and bottom wickets.
If you wish, mark the outer boundaries of the playing field with string and stakes.
Step 2 Choose a color Choose the color of the ball you wish to play. Order of play is determined by the colors on the stakes. The top color goes first.
Step 3 Begin play Place your ball between the first stake and the first wicket. Strike the ball with the face of the mallet aiming it to go through the wicket.
Step 4 Advance through the course Receive a bonus stroke each time your ball goes through a wicket, and move counter-clockwise to the next wicket. If a player’s ball does not go through a wicket, it is the next player’s turn.
Step 5 Earn bonus points Earn two bonus strokes by hitting another player’s ball with your ball. This is called roqueting. With your bonus strokes you can hit your ball, hit both balls, or – with your ball touching the other ball, and holding your ball down with your foot – knock the other one away.
If a ball is sent over the boundary, place it one mallet-length (about three feet) inside the boundary and resume play from there.
Step 6 Win the game The first player to pass through all wickets in proper order and hit the turning stake and finishing stake is the winner. Other players may continue playing to determine who finishes second, third, and so on.
The word “mall” comes from the original French name for croquet, “paille-maille,” which means ball-mallet.