In the sport of cricket, the wicket is one of the two sets of three stumps and two bails at either end of the pitch. The wicket is guarded by a batsman who, with his bat, attempts to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket. The origin of the word is from wicket gate, a small gate. Historically, cricket wickets had only two stumps and one bail and looked like a gate. The third (middle) stump was introduced in 1775.
The size and shape of the wicket has changed several times during the last 300 years and its dimensions and placing is now determined by Law 8 in the Laws of Cricket, thus:
There are also specified lengths for the barrel and spigots of the bail. There are different specifications for the wickets and bails for junior cricket. The umpires may dispense with the bails if conditions are unfit (e.g., if it is windy they might fall off by themselves). Further details on the specifications of the wickets are contained in Appendix D to the laws.
For a batsman to be dismissed by being bowled, run out, stumped or hit wicket, his wicket needs to be put down. What this means is defined by Law 29. A wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the grounds by the ball, the striker's bat, the striker's person (or by any part of his clothing or equipment becoming detached from his person), a fielder (with his hand or arm, and provided that the ball is held in the hand or hands so used, or in the hand of the arm so used). A 2010 amendment to the Laws clarified the rare circumstance where a bat breaks during the course of a shot and the detached debris breaks the wicket; the wicket has been put down in this circumstance. The wicket is also put down if a fielder pulls a stump out of the ground in the same manner.
If one bail is off, removing the remaining bail or striking or pulling any of the three stumps out of the ground is sufficient to put the wicket down. A fielder may remake the wicket, if necessary, in order to put it down to have an opportunity of running out a batsman.