practice knocks with a bat before going in with it in a match. A perfectly new bat sometimes makes a player feel uncomfortable, and so diminishes his usual confidence. Want of confidence leads to the half-hearted play which so often loses a man his wicket.
A bat should be kept well oiled, but too much oil should not be put on at once. A well-soaked rag rubbed over the bat two or three times a-week during the summer and twice a-month during the winter is quite sufficient to keep wood in perfect order. Most bats crack to a certain extent through constant contact with the ball. The best way to mend cracked bats is to have the loose wood on the surface glued down and then whipped round with strings. But unless this is skilfully done the weight of the string is apt to spoil the balance of the bat. Pegging is not of much use. The insertion of the pegs injures the wood, and simply makes it more liable to split up. Still, pegging is good enough if the bat is only required to be used once or twice more.
Keen cricketers take great care of their bats, treating them almost as objects of art. And quite rightly: a really good bat is a work of art. In a similar way a good shot or a good billiard-player or a good horseman has a great regard for his gun or his cue or his horse. The bat is of course by far the most important instrument an individual cricketer has to select. It must be remembered that no two players are exactly alike, and that consequently nearly every cricketer reauires a particular make of bat to suit him.
But care should be taken also to secure comfortable, wellfitting pads and gloves. On the whole, it certainly pays to have both these requisites made for you. An ill-fitting pair of pads prevents a batsman moving about easily, and consequently helps to tire him out. Toy-shop batting-gloves are perfectly useless. I recommend gloves fitted with thick black indiarubber, such as are supplied by Wisden. Cricket instruments should be carefully packed, especially bats. It is a good plan to have brownpaper covers for bats, so that they do not get scratched or dented by contact with other articles, or, on the other hand, make flannel clothes or buckskin boots greasy and oily by rubbing against them.
These directions are rather indiscriminate, but I think that a young cricketer who follows them will soon be able to select a good bat and fake care of it. Remember, good tools do not necessarily mean a good workman; but good workmen usually have good tools, and, what is more, take care of them.