This game is so called from the trap used to elevate the ball when it is to be struck by the batsman. It is one of the earliest games played with the trap and ball, and we can trace it to the commencement of the fourteenth century.
The manner in which it was then played was somewhat different to the style at the present day. As now played, the trap is no longer elevated, but set on the ground, and is generally made in the form of a shoe, the heel part being hollowed out for the reception of the ball: but some boys, when they cannot get a trap, make a hole in the ground, and having obtained the crochet bone of an ox, place it in a slanting position, one end being in the hole and the other out of it.
The elevated end is then sharply struck with the bat, which causes the ball to rise to a considerable height, and then all the purposes of a trap are answered, especially if the ground be hard and dry.
It is usual in the present game of Trap and Ball to place two boundaries, at a given distance from the trap, between which it is necessary for the ball to fall when struck by the batsman, for if it falls outside of either, he gives up his bat and is out. He is also out if he strikes the ball into the air, so that it is caught by an opposite player; and, again, if the ball when returned by an adversary touches the trap, or rests within one bat’s length of it. Every stroke tells for one towards the striker’s game.
There are some variations in the play of the game in different counties. In Essex and Suffolk, for instance, the game is played with a cudgel instead of a bat, which would seem to be a preferable weapon, as those who strike with it rarely miss their blow, but frequently send it to an astonishing distance, no boundaries being set.
The ball being stopped by one of the opposing party, the striker forms his judgment of the ability of the person who is to throw it back, and calls in consequence for any number of scores towards the game that he thinks proper. It is then returned, and if it appears to his antagonist to rest at a sufficient distance to justify the striker’s call, he obtains his number; but when a contrary opinion is held, a measurement takes place, and if the scores demanded exceed in number the length of the cudgel from the trap to the ball, he loses the whole, and is out; while, on the other hand, if the lengths of the bat are more than the scores called for, the matter terminates in the striker’s favour, and they are set up to his account.
Excerpt from the book:
EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS.
EDITED BY EDMUND ROUTLEDGE.
With more than Six Hundred Illustrations
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS.
LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
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