TILE IMPLEMENTS used in croquet are mallets, balls, posts (or sticks), and hoops (which are called indifferently hoops, wires, or arches). To these are sometimes added n cage, or a pair of tunnels; or hoops, tunnels, and cage may be all employed in the same game. The progress of each player may be marked with either clips or a mark. ing-board.
The mallets should be light and handy; with ash shafts, and boxwood or ash heads. The heads of the mallets are of various shapes—as the dice-box, which is the most com mon shape; the plano-convex, the hammer-dead, and the cue-shape. The last, which came latest into use, has a fiat end and a pointed end; the latter, like a billiard-cue, being tipped with leather. The head of the mallet should be from four inches to four and three quarters in length, by not more than two inches and three eighths at its greatest diameter, so that the center of the mallet-head should correspond to the center of the ball. The handle or shaft should be froth two feet nine inches to three feet in length. Next the head there should be a ring or rings of paint, corresponding in color or num ber to the player's ball, and the series of colors on the starting and turning pegs.
The balls are made of box or beech, thoroughly well turned and seasoned. Boxwood is generally preferred, but a ball composed of cocoa-nut fiber and india-rubber, which is very pleasant to play with, has also been used. These balls arc perfectly round, are made of the correct size and weight, and are known as " Nicholson's patent com pound croquet balls." The proper size of the balls is three inches and five eighths in diameter. Where wooden balls are employed, they should be kept rubbed with lin seed oil when out of play.
A full set of croquet balls consists of eight. In order to determine the order of play, these are either severally painted, in whole or in part, blue, pink, black, yellow, brown, orange, green, and red; or distinguished by bearing a different number of stripes of the same color, four of them having from one to four red stripes, and the other four from one to four blue stripes.
The pegs are two or three in number, according to the particular style of game played. They are each about 2 ft. in height, round in shape, pointed at the lower end like a cricket stump, and painted in rings corresponding to the colors of the balls—the top line blue, and then pink, black, etc. When the numerical distinction of the balls is adopted, the pegs are painted in rings alternately of red and blue.
The hoops (wires or arches) are from six to ten in number, according to the plan of the game played. On the grounds of the All England club at Wimbledon, the hoops are only one eighth of an inch larger than the balls, but in private play they arc usually much wider. they should not, however, be more than six inches in width. The hoops are made of galvanized iron, or iron painted white, and are either round or flat at the top; a hoop with the crown at right angles to the legs is to be preferred. When set, the crown of the hoop should be at least twelve inches clear of the ground. By having the hoops painted white or galvanized, they are easily distinguished in an imperfect light.
The tunnels are made of wood or iron, smaller than the hoops, with flat sides. When used, the player is sometimes restricted to one way of running them. They merely add to the difficulties of the game, and are not very popular or essential.
The cage consists of an additional pair of white hoops placed crosswise in the ground, either with or without a suspended bell at their junction.
Clips or disks of tin, marked with the several colors, are sometimes used to mark the game by being hung on the hoops as each player passes through; but many players do without the clips altogether. In the place of the clips, a marking-board, the same in principle as the pool-board in billiards, is often used.
Terms used in the Game.
In croquet, as in other games, there are various terms employed, which, to the uninitiated, often sound strange and meaningless. We mention the most indis pensable.