A sticky wicket in cricket refers to a state of the pitch. A cricket pitch is made of grass, soil and dust. However, external factors like temperature and moisture play a key role on how the pitch affects the bounce of the ball and subsequently the game.
In overcast conditions, pitches often need to be covered in moments where it rains. If uncovered or faulty covering material is used, then the pitch will become wet. A wet pitch causes the ball to bounce in an uneven manner. A sticky wicket is thus disastrous for a batter.
Spin bowlers may benefit from these pitches. Once the ball pitches on the wet surface, it can deviate way more than even the bowler’s expectations. Once this wet pitch begins to dry, pace bowlers can ball a good length delivery and still see the ball bounce much higher.
Historically, the way a sticky pitch behaves has led to matches being cancelled. Sticky pitches may be seen at an amateur level today. In modern cricket, at a professional level, it is very rare to see a sticky wicket due to better pitch covering mechanisms. Sticky wickets in modern cricket may arise when the dew dries up in warm weather.
A sticky cricket has been compared to a glutinous condition of the pitch. Owing to the challenges it produces some historians were against pitches being covered as it takes out the fun of the game that traverses when a wet pitch begins to dry. But given the modern game’s physical demands, it is a much safer route to terminate an irregular surface caused by a sticky wicket.