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Dr Ian Plummer

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Australian Method for Testing Wirings

This document is an extract from the Australian Croquet Association's Referees Manual and is reproduced here by permission. It is intended as a disussion document. The content of this manual applies ONLY in Australia. Clicking on the images will bring up a larger version.


Wiring Tests

Section B 2 Page 1 of 5
Date 12 - 10 - 2003
Issued by: O Edwards
Supersedes 23 - 3 - 2003
Reason: Reformat

1. The old standard "two ball" wiring test which was conducted, standing up behind the test balls to see if a dogleg occurs, works well if the balls are obviously wired or not wired. If it is so obvious, it leads one to wonder at the seriousness of such an appeal. Unfortunately a test must be conducted however frivolous and time wasting the appeal.

However when the situation is very close to being wired or not wired, far greater care needs to be taken when conducting a test where the asking ball is open to the target ball by, say, only half an inch (12 mm).

If the "standing behind" test is used, it is difficult to accurately locate the "top centre" of all three balls and therefore it is almost impossible for an accurate judgement to be made, for or against.

The judgement becomes more difficult as the distance increases between asking and target balls. This test has progressively been abandoned.

This then leads to the situation where a competent test is necessary. The consensus at senior levels is that the judgement is to be made at halfball height. This is the approved method of making judgements for close wiring decisions. However making judgements at half-ball height in itself creates some other problems.

Is a ball wired?

Fig 1 is that Ball Wired?

2. The ball at half-ball height problem: When conducting the test at half-ball height, the test balls are difficult to see.

2-1. Test ball next to target ball: When a test ball is placed next to the target ball, there is a very small area where the two balls actually touch (where the equators meet) and sometimes it is in shadow and this area is very difficult to see clearly.

Using a test ball

Fig 2

There is also the ever present possibility that when the test ball is actually placed against the target ball this will cause the target ball to be moved - if a referee moves a target ball, the test evidence is corrupted - this should never occur.

2-2. Solution to problem: Do not use a test ball - use the contrasting background test instead - such as a ball box.

We have long abandoned (or should have) the use of the test ball at the asking ball, as a contrasting background is so obviously superior.

Use a contrasting background

Fig 3

3. Test ball at obstruction:

3-1. The purpose of this test ball is to replicate the path of the asking ball towards the target ball. The accepted method is to position the test ball against and touching the obstacle. The validity of which; in itself is open to speculation - maybe an unspecified space ought to be left as if the asking ball touched the obstacle in its progress toward the target ball it would be deflected - in the absence of conclusive data, the test is accepted as such - and the fact that a "test as such" is an aid to decision making for the benefit of the referee.

3-2. When using the test ball at the hoop or peg it is difficult to create the eclipse that is necessary to conduct the test at the mandatory half-ball height, because there is a problem of sighting the two balls to form the eclipse.

Wiring testFig. 4 In a close test it is hard to distinguish which ball is which.

Fig. 5 Easier to sight the eclipse if the contrasting background test is used.

The asking ball has to perfectly eclipse the test ball - using the two outside edges of balls A& B.

3-3. Solution to problem: Use a 2D ball

4. The 2D Ball Using the "two dimensional ball" [2D ball] instead of a real ball at the hoop or peg it is far easier to create the eclipse at half-ball height. The protruding top and bottom edge of the square "ball" allows an easier and more accurate "eclipse" to be determined.

Using the half ball

Fig 6

Originally the "two dimensional ball" was only used to replace the test ball that could not fit between the asking ball and the hoop or peg, but now we have conducted sufficient tests to confidentially say that this new rectangular device is superior to a (spherical) ball for normal testing purposes.

5. The Two Dimensional Ball - The 2D Ball

A rectangle of a stiff material 3 5/8 inches wide, which is the (see Fig 7) same width as a ball, plus any reasonable height [from 4 to 6 inches is satisfactory] the fact that the 2D ball is higher than the asking ball only helps to make the test easier and more accurate

Fix a spike to the centre of the board (or preferably two spikes about an inch apart) and we have a "two dimensional ball". Push the spike into the ground next to the hoop leg or peg; this creates an effective test ball replica.

The test at half-ball height can then be carried out with great accuracy.

Such devices are easily made from coloured stiff plastic or thin plywood. One alternative is to paint both sides different colours and have spikes top and bottom which accommodates the use of different contrasting colours.

Half ball versions

6. Half ball height:

The half ball height test is the only approved test to be used in ACA events for close wiring decisions. If a Referee conducts a close wiring decision by standing behind the line of the balls, either the claimant or the opponent may appeal to the Tournament Referee that the test method is faulty and request (and expect) a half ball height test to be conducted.

The only method for close decisions that is acceptable is the "half ball height" test which is conducted by either lying on the lawn or by using one of the many mirror tests. These have been published in the ACA Croquet Australia magazine.

Referees should not object to this requirement as the simplest of the mirror-tests is the "forward mirror test" which can be easily conducted by using a hand held mid-sized shaving mirror with a small degree only of forward leaning and is significantly easier to use than the "backward looking" mirror test originally used. Every Club ought to have, as standard, a mirror proximately 400 by 300 mm on the wall of a toilet. The larger the mirror the easier is the test to perform.

Half ball height

Fig 7

Wiring test with half ball

Fig 8

7. Test method: Position the eye at half-ball height

  • Sight along the line of eclipse Point A to Point B - using 2D ball
  • Continue this line of sight and identify point C
  • If a space appears between AB and C the balls are not wired [The 'space' is the colour of the contrasting background]
  • If no space can be detected the Asking ball is wired
  • The elimination of the test ball at point C and its replacement with a contrasting background greatly facilitates the test.
  • Similarly the replacement of the test ball at point B with a 2D ball again makes the test easier to perform.
  • The test 'at half ball height' is easy to perform by using a mirror instead of having to lower the body onto the lawn.


The original reason for the construction of the 2D Ball was to "have a ball when you could not use a ball" = a Clayton's Ball - "a ball when you don't have a ball". When the asking ball is so close to a hoop leg or peg that a test ball cannot be positioned it is very difficult indeed to conduct an accurate test.

There have been some attempts to develop a test, using mirrors, string and a test ball behind the asking ball but such methodology is slow and of dubious validity. The simple solution to this problem is to accurately cut a rectangle of stiff material 3 5/8" width by 3 5/8" height which is the same width as a ball. [The height could be about 4 to 5 inches which is ideal.]

Fix one or more spikes to the bottom of the device and we have a "two dimensional ball" [2D Ball]. Better still fix spikes to the top and bottom and paint the two sides different colours e.g. white one side and black the other. The Test: Push the spike into the ground next to the hoop leg or peg. This creates an effective test ball replica which in fact is more accurate and easier to use than a real ball. The test can then be carried out with great accuracy and convenience particularly if combined with the mirror test

A real ball has three dimensions, the depth of which is unusable and unnecessary, but it is difficult to align the edge of the equator when making the necessary eclipse of asking ball onto the test ball.

The extra height of the 2D ball makes such alignment easier

Using 2-D ball

Fig 9

Using 2-D ball and contrast

Fig 10

Wiring test

Fig 11

How to Mark a Ball - in a Critical Position.

Section B 3 Page 1 of 2
Date: 21 - 3 - 2003
Issued by: O Edwards

Ball marking must be done in a way not to intrude on the players conscious and detract the striker when the playing of a stroke.

For example: "Mickey Mouse" marking is not to be used - this is the technique where the markers are placed both sides of the ball, which when viewed from above, form "ears" which is most distracting. Likewise fluorescent markers must not be used for the same reason.

ball marking

Fig 12

1. The standard technique is to use two golf markers and "cross triangulate" using the hoop legs - see illustration 1.1 - markers are to be least 1m [one metre] from the ball - unless it is necessary to use the technique described in No 2.

Ball marking

2. In addition to 1.1 it is recommended that two other markers be used to form a line bisecting the ball - see illustration 1.2.

Ball marking

3. In addition to 1.2 it may on occasions be useful to check the accuracy of the 1.2 settings by placing, two markers "behind" the hoop to assist in assuring the accuracy of the 1.2 technique, these markers may be removed, as in 1.4 if necessary after checking is complete.

Ball marking
NOTE: some care must be taken not to place the markers where they might inconvenience the player

Ball marking

4. Alternatively the markers shown in No 2 may be used instead, if the other methods causes player distraction.

Ball marking

5. In a Non Critical Position Law 5-2 (c) (1) - if a ball from the other game is not in a critical position, the permission of the players of the other (double banked) game must be obtained so that it may temporarily removed provided that its position has been marked.

This applies to both players and officials who wish to remove balls.

It is important to bear in mind that a "critical position" not only applies to a ball in or near a hoop, but also to a ball in the open court which could be in a potentially wired position Officials should be expedient in marking non-critical balls to avoid wasting time. A single marker is usually quite sufficient.

6. Marking the Target Ball. When a striker is making a hampered stroke attempt to strike a ball to roquet a target ball, both balls must be marked. Reason: if a fault is committed both balls may be required to be replaced [at the requirement of the opponent Law 28(b)(2)].

If it is to be a hard stroke, on a damp lawn, serious consideration needs to be given as to how the target ball is marked.

Commonly, the technique is to mark this ball underneath the outside equator of the ball [in the Golf style] directly away from the striker, so the striker cannot see and be distracted by it, however this has proven to not always satisfactory.

Experiments have shown that on a damp lawn, a hard stroke often causes the roqueted ball to skid and cause up to 15mm lawn damage. When the target ball is hit [roqueted] by the striker ball, the target ball will skid for a short distance, this is sufficient for the ball to dislodge the marker and in some cases, consistent with force, cause the roqueted ball to jump and travel far less than expected.

Under these circumstances cross triangulation using two or four markers ought to be used.
This may seem at first reading to be overkill, but this ball jumping phenomena has caused consternation at two international events.

7. Marking a Ball after a Fault. Example; a hampered stroke fault is committed during which both the striker and the target ball are moved.

The previous positions of both balls will be known because the referee has marked them. The opponent is now entitled to require them to "be rectified or remain" - Law 28(b)(2). Also the opponent is entitled to request the balls be marked at the position they currently occupy, after the fault, so that the balls can be replaced and a judgement made in the "rectified" position. The balls may then be returned to the "remain" position if required.

This right is not specified in the Laws but it was the intention of the ILC and is common practice in the UK, and is the subject of ORLC 28.19

The repositioning of the balls may be repeated subject to commonsense and Law 49 - Expedition in Play

Author: Owen Edwards/ACA
All rights reserved © 2004

Updated 28.i.16
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