Michael IELTS Band 9
Professional Teacher
Everyday UK Expressions (13): on a sticky wicket

Learning idioms - tip 3: Read lots of authentic sentences which contain your idiom.  This will help you to understand the precise context(s) in which to use it.


Idioms are very context-specific.  We often think we have understood a word, phrase, or expression in another language but when we try to use it, a native-speaker tells us that that we have not used in quite the right situation.  So, it takes time to learn to use idioms well, and to understand their context well, we should read many examples of their use by native speakers.<o:p></o:p>

Today’s idiom: “To be on a sticky wicket”<o:p></o:p>

This means to be in a difficult, precarious, or awkward situation.  It is a cricketing metaphor and so you can be sure that native English-speakers from all cricket-playing nations will understand the term. <o:p></o:p>

Have a look at the example sentences here: <o:p></o:p>

<a href="http://fraze.it/n_search.jsp?q=on+a+sticky+wicket&l=0&t=0&ffo=false&findid=-1&ff">http://fraze.it/n_search.jsp?q=on+a+sticky+wicket&l=0&t=0&ffo=false&findid=-1&ff</a>=<o:p></o:p>;

If you click on “open” next to the sentence, you can then click on “context” and see the whole original paragraph.<o:p></o:p>

Some of the sentences are from cricket match reports, and use the term literally. The “wicket” is the ground between the two batsman which they run across after hitting the ball, as shown in this picture:
The surface of a “sticky” wicket is damp. This is difficult for batsmen because the ball often bounces unpredictably.<o:p></o:p>

As ever, I look forward to your sentences.  Describe a situation of your own and add an extra sentence which ends:<o:p></o:p>

….. [subject] + [to be] + on a sticky wicket.<o:p></o:p>

Oct 1, 2016 11:29 AM
Comments · 5
She is on a sticky wicket, she has to lie both to her former and new boss.
October 2, 2016
Well done, Natalia. 
October 2, 2016

Thank you very much @Michael for correcting me:)Now I got it when you showed me the situation of a poor batsman:):)

Thank you:)

October 1, 2016

Well done, Sudeep.  Your first usage was great.  

The second wasn't quite right. People don't say "get on a sticky wicket."  Also getting caught in the rain is not really the right context for "sticky wicket".  We use the expression when faced with a difficult challenge in a difficult situation - you are in a predicament.

If you know cricket (I guess you do!), imagine a poor batsman facing two spin bowlers on a wet pitch all morning.

October 1, 2016

Thank you @Michael for another nice idiom:)I have come across this idiom but using it in a proper sentence may put me on a sticky wicket.However, let me try--

My friends forbade me going out.Thaks God!! I didn't, otherwise I would have to get on a sticky wicket as later it rained cats and dogs.

October 1, 2016
Michael IELTS Band 9
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Learning Language
German, Italian