Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/153

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
131
BOWLING.

side the off-stump. Stockwell sees another fourer under his hand and tries to drive it in his most approved style; but he fails to get to the pitch of the ball and does not allow for the breakaway. The ball is skied and falls plumb into cover-point's hands—the safest pair in the kingdom. The batsman retires, prompt and good-humoured as ever, amid well-deserved applause. He has played a bright, interesting innings. His place is filled by Netherland, a young player of much promise—essentially a stylist, with brilliant strokes all round the wicket when set, but a nervous, indecisive starter. Obviously every effort must be made to get rid of him before he settles down. The leg-break bowler decides to try a good-length ball on the leg-stump with not too much break on it. He wants to make the new-comer either feel for the ball or have a wild hit at it. His manoeuvre is successful. Netherland plays forward half-heartedly, misses the ball, and is clean bowled.

The next on the list is Strawyard, the best and soundest bat on the side. He is not impatient, but can punish almost any bowling when he is set. He soon shows that he is quite at his best. He either plays the slow bowler right back or smothers his balls at the pitch. He watches the fast bowler well; turns his yorkers into full-pitches; times his changes of pace, and cuts without mercy his short balls outside the off-stump. The captain now tries a double change. For the fast bowler he substitutes the medium left-hander who began, and for the legbreak bowler a medium right-hander who can keep a good length and knows a trick or two. Now the left-hander remembers that Strawyard has a curious stroke of his own—a drive in the air over extra-cover's head, sometimes just out of reach, sometimes much higher; so he decides to see whether he cannot feed this stroke. Extra-cover and cover are unostentatiously warned to stand farther back and look out. He is careful not to show his hand too soon. His first four balls are straight good-length balls. The fifth is a well-pitched-up ball about a foot outside the off-stump. Strawyard promptly drives it just as expected—a real "skimmer" 6 feet over extra-cover's head. The bowler then tries to bowl variations of this ball in order to cause the batsman to make a mis-hit. Not a bit of it. Strawyard remembers what happened the last time he met this bowler, and is very careful to pick the right balls for the stroke. Meanwhile the right-hander has noticed that in playing forward to good-length balls just off the wicket Strawyard is inclined to drag his foot across the crease. Now how is a chance of stump-