“There is something wonderful about the feel of grass beneath bare feet — a freedom, a freshness, an at-one-with-nature effect — that must be weighed against the danger of placing a bare foot on the ball and then swinging a hard mallet to it. Of course you can only place your foot on your ball to “send” the other, now-adjacent ball to some other location. It is, of course, strategically very helpful to send an opponent’s ball to an awkward location. The ball is temporarily in a real fix and unable to hinder you as you progress to the next wicket. My older sister always had a way of curling her toes right around the ball like a sloth, and as a child she was always able to whack away without injury, or so it seemed (she did everything so well, and so competitively, that to this day I carry in my wallet a score sheet of the one time I managed somehow to beat her in the word game called Boggle).
You can, of course, go through life with a battered big toe, as it is usually the opposite foot from the direction you are swinging the mallet that gets used. If you have had a few drinks, whihc for some in backyard croquet is almost de rigueur, your toes can become even more violable… but the grass feels so good. It’s not a decision to be made lightly.”