Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/168

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the quality of the wood. Of course, it is quite impossible for a beginner to know intuitively the various properties of bat-blades. Nothing but experience can teach him what to choose and what to avoid; so he had better make himself familiar with the points in a good bat as soon as possible. It ought not to take long to find out the kinds of wood and the kinds of grain which are likely to constitute a good driver and a good laster. Too much attention cannot be given to the choice of a bat, inasmuch as whether or not the article used is a good one makes a great deal of difference in the pleasure of playing. The delicious thrill of a good stroke is deadened or even entirely destroyed by a hard jarring bat.

With regard to size, boys are strongly advised to use undersized bats. No one should ever use a bat which he cannot wield quite comfortably. The balance of a bat, too, is a very important point. A bat varies in balance according to the distribution of wood in the blade. By holding a bat by the handle with both hands, and lifting it up and down just as when actually playing, any one can feel for himself whether it comes up well or badly. The difference between the feel of a well- and a badly-balanced bat is most distinct. Cricketers would be wise to acquire the habit of testing the balance of a bat; familiarity with the feel of good bats helps them to make a suitable choice. A player's style is sure to be affected by using unsuitable bats. A small man who uses a full-sized bat is very likely to cramp his play or fall into ungainly positions, such as materially handicap attempts at good strokes. The use of a bat too heavy for one's strength is also injurious. A bat of this kind tires a player out much sooner than one that suits him; and it also prevents good timing of the ball—that is to say, it makes it difficult for the player to bring the bat into the desired spot at the desired moment. It causes the fault of playing too late. A long innings means a continuous physical strain; so the less labour it is to wield the bat the better. Two or three ounces more or less do not make much difference to the driving qualities of a bat, but they do make a difference to the ease and comfort with which it may be wielded. The use of heavy bats usually leads not only to mistiming, but to weak strokes, a feeble style, and small scores.

The wood of which cricket-bats are made may be divided according to colour. There are intermediate shades, but most bats are either white or red. It will generally be found that white wood is softer than red; but it is not so durable. A soft bat, if