Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/129

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
107
BOWLING.

effective balls in the left-hander's repertoire is the dead straight one without any break, especially on a wicket which takes a considerable amount of work, if bowled after several balls breaking away a good deal. The batsman is very likely to expect and allow for the break, and in consequence to be bowled or get out leg-before-wicket. The left-hander's fast ball coming in with the arm—that is, swinging across on to the wicket from the off instead of breaking away from leg—has already been mentioned and appreciated. Some batsmen appreciate it in another sense and punish it unmercifully. The celebrated Australian left-hander, Allen, used to make the ball curl in towards the batsman in the air and break away after pitching. No wonder he got wickets. A more baffling combination of difficulties could hardly be imagined. A certain number of bowlers can, or at any rate do, effect the curl in the air, but the ball usually breaks in the same direction that the curl takes. Even these are nasty customers to tackle. Whether any bowlers can impart this curl in the air to the ball at will is a moot point. That bowling does curl in the air no one will deny who has played Walter Wright, Rawlin, or W. G. Grace. Some bowlers do not curl except when a strong wind is blowing against them. The most astonishing performer in this respect is Mr Murdoch, the Sussex captain, who, though not a regular bowler, is often induced to try an over or two when the wind blows, to see whether his peculiar faculty will work. I have not been able to discover, any more than the bowlers themselves, why or how curl in the air takes place. The deliveries of all those mentioned are so totally different as to have apparently only this property in common. Wright is a left-hander of only moderately high delivery. Rawlin uses his right hand and keeps it rather high. Mr Murdoch bowls right hand with a round-armish delivery; so does Dr Grace, though perhaps his arm is lower. The pace of these four also differs; so does their quality. Another curious point about them is, that without any apparent reason they curl at one time much more than at another. A perfectly new ball seems to favour the peculiar flight. The late Australian Eleven during their tour in America were completely beaten in a match with the Philadelphians owing to the deadly effectiveness with which one of their bowlers caused the ball to swerve in the air. He is an excellent baseball player, and is said to have learnt to apply the methods of that game to cricket. When cricketers learn to command this curl in addition to their other devices, batting will become more difficult than ever. A Mr Procter has