Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/154

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ing to be compassed? He bowls two good-length balls just on the off-stump, which are pushed away skilfully for two runs each. Then he bowls a ball slower, shorter, and wider, delivering it a yard behind the bowling-crease—a well-known trick that rarely succeeds in deceiving the batsman; but this time it does. Strawyard tries the same forward push-stroke, plays too soon, drags his foot in an attempt to smother the ball, and is smartly stumped. A good piece of bowling and a good man gone. All this time Cain has been playing as steadily as ever. He has been badly missed once by short-slip, and since then has shaped much better. Without forcing the game he is scoring consistently on both sides of the wicket. He is now joined by H. H. Rush, a very dangerous bat; not always a good starter, but a terror if he once gets settled. Most bowlers dislike bowling to him. He treats them all with the scantest courtesy. The better they bowl, the harder he hits. He is particularly strong on the on-side, and applies a marvellous pullstroke to good-length balls just outside the off-stump. He hits such a ball as if it were a half-volley to leg—a beautiful stroke if it comes off; when it does not, the critics shake their heads and say "Shocking." But perhaps bowlers with a sticky wicket and everything to favour them have been shocked by this stroke to better purpose. It has turned the tide in many a match. Its very unorthodoxy is half its merit. However, there is no tide to turn just now, no particular need for anything unorthodox. The great man takes his stand at the wicket with an expression half grim, half twinkle, in his cunning eyes. What is he going to do? What ball shall we give him? He seems to have come to stay to-day. During the first over or two he does not appear quite at home; he is playing with a concentrated carefulness that seems rather unnatural to him. Suddenly his air of restraint vanishes: a shortish ball from the right-hander is cracked between cover and extra-cover with terrific force. Then the fun begins. In spite of two fielders in the country on the on-side, good-length balls outside the off-stump are remorselessly pulled. They travel to taste—some high, some low, but none come to hand—and they travel often. One drops clean over the ropes—a gigantic hit. Square-cuts, off-drives, and placings-to-leg almost jostle one another to the boundary. This will not do. Both bowlers try all their devices in vain. They feed the pull, and the food is thankfully received. The batsman takes no notice of the long-fields; he seems to say to himself every time he hits, "Let 'em catch that, and welcome