Cricket, an insect belonging to the order orthoptera, the group saltatoria, and the family achetadm. Like other insects of the order, the crickets have straight wings, which, when not in use, are folded lengthwise along the back, the upper wings having a narrow border which is folded down so as to cover also the sides of the body; the jaws move transversely like those of beetles; they do not undergo a complete metamorphosis, the young resembling the parents except that they have no wings; in the pupa state they have the rudiments of wings, eat voraciously, and grow rapidly. In the saltatoria, which includes also grasshoppers and locusts, the thighs of the hind legs are greatly developed, enabling them to take long leaps. In the family to which the cricket belongs, the wing covers are horizontal, the antennae long and tapering, the feet three-jointed (except acanthus, which has four joints to the hind feet), two tapering downy bristles at the end of the body, between which, in the females, there is a long and sharp piercer.
The common house cricket of Europe (acheta domestical Linn.) is about an inch long, of a yellowish or clay color mixed with brown; it dwells in the cracks of walls and floors, and in warm places, as the vicinity of ovens, where it remains concealed during the day, coming forth at night in search of bread, meal, and almost any article of domestic economy which contains moisture; it is said also to devour other insects. The female has a long ovipositor, and the male makes a loud noise or chirp by rubbing the hard internal border of one wing cover against a horny ridge on the under surface of the other; for this familiar sound the cricket has been immortalized in verse and prose, and its merry chirp is interwoven in some of the most cheering superstitions of England; its very presence in a house was deemed a sign of good luck, and its flying away a bad omen. It is a most indefatigable musician, commencing its tune at twilight and keeping it up without intermission till daybreak; its note is so agreeable to some that it is kept in cages by the fireside as a pet songster, and Scaliger is said always to have had a box of them singing on his table, though this last refers more particularly to the field cricket.
This species (A. campastris, Fabr.) is larger than the preceding, of a blackish hue, with the base of the wing covers yellowish; in July the female lays about 300 eggs, which are hatched in 15 days; the young have no wings, and feed on vegetable matters, changing their skins before winter; they remain torpid in winter, and become perfect insects in the following June. This species is spread over Europe, where it affords great sport to children, who hunt for it with an ant attached to a hair; from the eagerness with which it comes out of its hole in the earth when any foreign body is presented to it, thus falling into the hands of its enemies, has arisen the expression prevalent in France, "silly as a cricket;" in England people say "merry as a cricket." Their holes are made at first horizontal and then vertical, and they retreat into them backward; they eat grass, seeds, and fruit, carrying them to their holes; they are fond of drinking the dew on leaves and flowers, but are very careful to avoid wetting themselves in their journeys.
The young live together in peace under stones and sticks, but when they have attained full size they are constantly fighting with each other; the field crickets are sometimes made use of in ridding a dwelling of house crickets, the larger instantly declaring war against the smaller species and driving them out. The boys in Germany are very fond of keeping crickets in boxes for the sake of their song, and for the purpose of making them fight; what the game cock is to the Havanese, and the bulldog to the English, the cricket is to the youth of Germany; according to the direction in which they meet, they will butt like rams, kick like horses, or scratch like cats, never ceasing till one leaves the field or is disabled. - There are several species of cricket in America, though there is no house cricket. Our common field species (A. abbreviata, Harris) is named from the shortness of its wings, which do not extend beyond the wing covers; it is about three fourths of an inch long, black with a brownish tinge at the base of the wing covers, and a pale line on each side most distinct in the female. Another species (A. nigra, Harris) is entirely black with very short wings, and measuring three fifths of an inch in length.
Crickets are generally nocturnal and solitary, but some sper cies are often seen in the daytime crawling along garden paths in great numbers. Our nocturnal crickets do not excite the same pleasant associations as the European species do; they do not enter houses unless by accident, and their monotonous notes, continued during the autumn nights, are to most persons dismal and sad. Where crickets are numerous, they injure vegetation, eating the tenderest parts of plants, destroying great numbers of melons, squashes, potatoes, etc.; they devour other insects, and thus in a certain degree are of service. They may be destroyed by arsenic mixed in grated vegetables, or in bottles partly filled with fluid, into which they crowd to drink; cats are fond of them, playing with them like mice before eating them; swine also devour them eagerly. There is here a third species (A. vittata, Harris, genus nemobius of Serville), destitute of wings, varying in color from rusty black to dusky brown, with black lines on the back and posterior thighs; it is about two fifths of an inch long, social in its habits, frequenting the meadows and roadsides in the daytime.
There is another kind inhabiting shrubs, vines, and trees, concealing itself in the daytime among the leaves; these are very noisy, and if one gets into a chamber it will effectually prevent sleep; the antennae and legs are very long and slender, and the piercer is only half as long as the body. They form the genus acanthus, and are called tree or climbing crickets; there are three species in the United States, of which the OE. niveus inhabits Massachusetts. The male is of a pale ivory color, with the upper side of the first joint of the antennae and between the eyes ochre yellow, and a minute black dot on the under side of the first and second joints of the antennae; the length is about half an inch. They sometimes pierce peach twigs for the purpose of laying their eggs, and they injure the tobacco plant by eating holes in the leaves. They are difficult to catch, from their extreme shyness. The eggs are laid in the beginning of autumn, but are not hatched till the following summer; they attain maturity by the first of August, and in southern climates before that time.
The females are the largest, almost white, dusky beneath, with three dusky stripes on the head and thorax, and the wings with a greenish tinge and larger than the covers.
1. Wingless Cricket (Acheta vittata). 2. Field Cricket (A. ab-breviata). 3. House Cricket (A. domestica). 4. A. maculata.
Cricket, the favorite athletic game in England, also played in America. Under the name of "club ball," or "hand-in and handout," it was played as early as the 14th century; but the name cricket cannot be traced further back than 1685, when it occurs in Phillips's " Mysteries of Love and Eloquence." It has become the national game of England within a century. In America, though often played, it has never gained the same importance, and is second to base ball in popularity. The game, to be played scientifically, needs a level piece of ground, from six to ten acres in area, with a close sod, which must be frequently mowed and rolled. The necessary implements are a ball, which must be not less than 9 nor more than 9 1/4 in. in circumference, and must weigh not less than 5 1/2 nor more than 5 3/4 oz.; the bat, which must not exceed 4 1/4 in. in width nor 38 in. in length; three stumps, or short upright rods of wood, which are set up in the ground to form the wickets, and must be of equal thickness, standing 27 in. out of the ground, and so placed, equidistant from one an-other,'that the ball cannot pass between them. Across the top are the bails, composed of two pieces of wood, each 4 in. long. Cricket is played either as single or double wicket.
The former (not often played) requires not less than two nor more than eight on a side; the latter must have eleven on one side, and as many or more on the opposite. Eleven picked players often contend with and defeat 22. The accompanying diagram will give a general idea of the positions in the field when the bowling is moderately fast. The fielders (whose duty it is to srop and return the ball) have, as will be seen by the references connected with the diagram, technical names, usually indicating their stations in the game. These positions are varied to suit slow and very fast bowling; and in fact each bowler disposes the field to suit his own particular style and the batsman's play. The game is begun with the outs placed in the field as shown above, and two ins, one at each wicket. The bowler, A, now bowls the ball at the opposite wicket, which is defended by the batsman, B, who if the bowling admits strikes the ball to such a part of the field as will enable him to make one or more runs, i. e., to cross from wicket to wicket as many times as possible before the ball is secured by the fielders and returned to the bowler or wicket keeper; then the bowler delivers another ball, and so on till he has bowled four, which constitute " an over." After this another bowler commences at the opposite wicket, the fielders having assumed the same relative position to him that they held to his predecessor.
This second bowler delivers four balls, when the same change takes place, and continuously till all the batsmen have been put out. This must be done either by their having the bail or bails of their wickets knocked off, or the wicket or wickets knocked out of the ground, either by the bowler when bowling, or by a fielder throwing and knocking them down while the batsman is outside the popping crease, or by the ball's being caught when hit before it touches the ground. The batsman is also out if he knocks down his wicket with his bat, or if the ball is stopped by any part of his body before his wicket; and several other means by which he may go out are indicated in the rules (15 to 24). After each side has had two innings, the one making most runs is declared victorious. The batsmen when playing against fast bowling use leg guards for the protection of the legs, and gloves for the hands. The gloves are made of buckskin, with rubber tubing attached to the exposed parts. The wicket keeper is also protected by gloves and leg guards. Flannel trousers and shirts are invariably worn.
For other particulars see the laws of cricket as revised by the Mary-lebone club, the highest authority in the game, and also the following books: "The Cricket and the Field," "Felix on the Bat," and Lily-white's " Guide to Cricketers".
A. Bowler. B, B. Batsmen. C. Wicket keeper. D. Long stop. E. Short slip. F. Point. G. Long slip. H. Cover point. K. Long field off. L. Long field on. M. Short eg. N. Long leg. U, U. Umpires. n., n. Popping creases, 4 ft. in front of wickets, o, o. Bowling creases, 6 ft. 8 in. in line with wickets, p, p. Wickets, 22 yards apart.