- noun a line marked on the ground at each end of the pitch, parallel with the bowling crease and 4 feet/1.22 metres in front of the stumps; it marks the forward limit of the batsman’s ground, and although in practice it is only slightly longer than the bowling crease it ‘shall be considered to be unlimited in length’ (Law 9 § 3). The popping crease was already in existence at the time of the original (1744) code of Laws, which stipulated that it ‘must be exactly Three Feet Ten Inches from the Wicket’ (the extra two inches being added in 1819 at the same time as an increase in the height of the wicket). However, there is evidence to show that it was a fairly recent innovation when these Laws were drawn up. John Nyren’s tentative reconstruction of the game as it was played ‘about 150 years since’ (i.e. in the late 17th century) includes the following description: ‘Between the stumps a hole was cut in the ground, large enough to contain the ball and the butt-end of the bat. In running a notch, the striker was required to put his bat into this hole, instead of the modern practice of touching over the popping crease. The wicket-keeper, in putting out the striker when running, was obliged, when the ball was thrown in, to place it in this hole before the adversary could reach it with his bat’ (Nyren 1833 in HM, pp 84–5). This practice of ‘popping’ the bat in the hole in order to complete a run led to ‘many severe injuries of the hands’ and was eventually superseded – via an intermediate stage in which the batsman had to touch a stick held by the umpire – by the ‘modern’ method, in which the batsman’s crease becomes, for the purposes of scoring a run, a symbolic vestige of the original ‘popping hole’. The popping crease at the non-striker’s end is used to mark the forward limit of the bowler’s territory in determining whether a delivery is fair: the umpire must be satisfied that the bowler’s front foot has landed ‘with some part of the foot, … whether grounded or raised, behind the popping crease’ (Law 24 § 5 (ii)).
See also run
- noun the line at which a cricket batsman stands when facing the bowler. It runs parallel to the wicket and lies 1.2 m/4 ft in front of it.