wicket

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a sticky wicket

A particularly awkward or difficult situation or circumstance. (Generally used with on. Refers to the pitch, i.e., wicket, used in the game of cricket and the difficulty of playing on one after it has been wetted with rain.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I found myself on a bit of a sticky wicket when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the cinema. I'll be batting on a sticky wicket if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: sticky, wicket

bat on a sticky wicket

To deal with or be in the midst of a particularly awkward or difficult situation or circumstance. Refers to the pitch, called a "wicket," used in the game of cricket, and the difficulty of playing on one after it has been wetted with rain. I knew I was batting on a sticky wicket when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the cinema. I'll be batting on quite a sticky wicket if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: bat, on, sticky, wicket

batting on a sticky wicket

In the midst of or dealing with a particularly awkward or difficult situation or circumstance. Refers to the pitch, called a "wicket," used in the game of cricket and the difficulty of playing on one after it has been wetted with rain. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I found myself batting on a sticky wicket when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the cinema. I'll be batting on a sticky wicket if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: batting, on, sticky, wicket

be (batting) on a losing wicket

To be in a situation in which one is unlikely or unable to win; to be doing something that is likely or certain to fail. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Teachers who try to keep mobile phones out of their classrooms are on a losing wicket these days. The prime minister, knowing his party has been batting on a losing wicket regarding immigration reform, today announced a major U-turn in his position on the matter.
See also: losing, on, wicket

be (batting) on a sticky wicket

To be in the midst of or dealing with a particularly awkward or difficult situation or circumstance. Primarily heard in UK. I knew I was batting on a sticky wicket when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the cinema. I'll be on quite a sticky wicket if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: on, sticky, wicket

on a losing wicket

In a situation in which one is unlikely or unable to win; doing something that is likely or certain to fail. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Teachers who try to keep mobile phones out of their classrooms are on a losing wicket these days. The prime minister, knowing his party has been batting on a losing wicket regarding immigration reform, today announced a major U-turn in his position on the matter.
See also: losing, on, wicket

on a sticky wicket

In the midst of or dealing with a particularly awkward or difficult situation or circumstance. (Refers to the pitch, called a "wicket," used in the game of cricket and the difficulty of playing on one after it has been wetted with rain.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I found myself on a bit of a sticky wicket when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the cinema. I'll be batting on a sticky wicket if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: on, sticky, wicket
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

on a sticky wicket

BRITISH, INFORMAL
If someone is on a sticky wicket, they are in a difficult situation and will find it hard to deal with their problems. It seemed to me that we were on rather a sticky wicket. We couldn't admit that we had got the figures without causing a major row to break out. Note: You can call a difficult situation a sticky wicket. The Tottenham manager confessed it had been `a bit of a sticky wicket' for the past couple of weeks. Note: On a cricket pitch, the wicket is the area of grass between the two sets of stumps. When a lot of rain has fallen on the wicket it becomes soft or `sticky', and in these conditions, it is difficult for the batsmen to predict which way the ball will bounce.
See also: on, sticky, wicket
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a sticky wicket

1 a pitch that has been drying out after rain and is therefore difficult to bat on. Cricket 2 a tricky or awkward situation. informal
See also: sticky, wicket
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

(be on) a ˌsticky ˈwicket

(British English, informal) a situation in which it is difficult to defend yourself against criticism or attack: Don’t be too confident about getting the contract. After our problems with the last one we’re on a sticky wicket there.
In the game of cricket, a sticky wicket is a playing area that is drying out after rain and so is more difficult for the person hitting the ball to play on.
See also: sticky, wicket
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

sticky wicket, (to bat on) a

To deal with a difficult situation that requires good judgment. The term comes from cricket, where it refers to soft or muddy ground around a wicket, which makes it difficult for the batsman because the ball does not bounce well. Although cricket is not well known in America, the term did cross the Atlantic in the 1920s. The National News-Letter used it in 1952, “Mr. Churchill was batting on a very sticky wicket in Washington.”
See also: bat, sticky
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
The ball flew from his hand straight and swift towards the centre stump of the wicket. The wary Dumkins was on the alert: it fell upon the tip of the bat, and bounded far away over the heads of the scouts, who had just stooped low enough to let it fly over them.
Was it thrown straight up to the wicket, Dumkins had reached it before the ball.
So they leave the island and go to the tent; and after deep consultation, Arthur is sent in, and goes off to the wicket with a last exhortation from Tom to play steady and keep his bat straight.
He is never in his ground except when his wicket is down.
Aislabie, who came in for the last wicket; how the Lord's men were out by half-past twelve o'clock for ninety-eight runs; how the captain of the School eleven went in first to give his men pluck, and scored twenty-five in beautiful style; how Rugby was only four behind in the first innings; what a glorious dinner they had in the fourth-form school; and how the cover- point hitter sang the most topping comic songs, and old Mr.
"I dare say now I've lost the match by this nonsense," he says, as he sits down again; "they'll be sure to get Jack's wicket in three or four minutes; however, you'll have the chance, sir, of seeing a hard hit or two," adds he, smiling, and turning to the master.
"With a pitch to help me, I'd have done something big; as it is, three for forty-one, out of the four that fell, isn't so bad for a slow bowler on a plumb wicket against those fellows.
Jo opened her lips to say something rude, but checked herself in time, colored up to her forehead and stood a minute, hammering down a wicket with all her might, while Fred hit the stake and declared himself out with much exultation.
Then the Keeper of the Wicket passed through and she followed, after which the door swung shut and locked itself with a sharp click.
"That is well." And Bertuccio, feeling in his pocket, signed to a keeper whom he saw through the window of the wicket.
Mr Inspector had not moved, and had given no order; but, the satellite slipped his back against the wicket, and laid his left arm along the top of it, and with his right hand turned the bull's-eye he had taken from his chief--in quite a casual manner--towards the stranger.
Again he turned towards the wicket, where the satellite, with his eye upon his chief, remained a dumb statue.
The satellite removed his arm and opened the wicket, and Mr Julius Handford went out.
A small green court was the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket gate admitted them into it.
After reflecting a moment, temporarily sheltered beneath the little wicket of the prison of the treasurer of the Sainte- Chappelle, as to the shelter which he would select for the night, having all the pavements of Paris to choose from, he remembered to have noticed the week previously in the Rue de la Savaterie, at the door of a councillor of the parliament, a stepping stone for mounting a mule, and to have said to himself that that stone would furnish, on occasion, a very excellent pillow for a mendicant or a poet.