Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/110

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A sticky wicket—a real piece of birdlime—is usually the result of a heavy night's rain followed by a strong morning sun. This also affords medium and slow bowlers a rich harvest of wickets. It is under such conditions that most wonderful bowling performances are done. The bowler can do what he likes with the ball. And at times not even the bowler, though a good one, has the slightest idea what the ball will do. It may rise with a huge break over the batsman's head; it may shoot or keep uncommonly low; it may, wonderful to relate, break from leg after receiving an emphatic off-spin from the bowler's hand. In fact, such a wicket is liable to bring about the ignominious downfall of the most powerful batting side imaginable, and that though opposed to bowling which under ordinary conditions would be quite mediocre.

Those batsmen who have had the melancholy pleasure of trying to keep up their wickets for a minute or two against such bowlers as Briggs, Peel, Trumble, or Jack Hearne on a sticky wicket, will realise fully the truth of these remarks.

Until a bowler thoroughly understands the various kinds of wickets, he cannot know how to employ to the best advantage any skill he may have. He is liable to miss opportunities and to waste energy; not to bowl as well as he might, both when they favour him and when they do not. It is clearly bad policy to I make prodigious efforts at break when the ground will not take it, or to try refined and difficult devices when the simpler and easier would be more telling. Wickets should be carefully studied in general and in particular. Before a match a bowler ought to go and look at the pitch in order to find out all about it. He is justified in taking advantage not only of the state of the wicket, but of trees or houses that may happen to be behind his arm and obscure his delivery. Any unfair device is, of course, to be condemned—such, for instance, as a needlessly flapping sleeve, intended to distract or annoy the batsman. But that is quite a different matter from making the most of things as, they are. There may be a slight slope at one end just suited to a particular bowler's deliveries, or one end may take his fancy rather than the other. There may be a rough spot on the wicket at one end exactly in his length that will materially help him. All such things should be discovered and considered before a match actually begins, and every means should be taken to get all possible help from them. A bowler who follows such methods_is much more likely to be successful than the ordinary unobservant being who bowls haphazard. As "Sammy" Woods