Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/174

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Well, then, let us suppose a player to be supplied with a suitable bat. The next point is to learn how to use it. To begin with, there are several things to understand. A batsman as such is, first of all, playing in order to make runs for his side, and in order to do this he must both stay in and also score as many runs as he can while he is in. This is the aspect of a batsman as a member of a side.

Perhaps a few general remarks upon batting may be found interesting and useful. From what has just been said it may be gathered that the art of batting combines both attack and defence. A batsman is required to keep up his wicket and also to score runs for his side. It is possible to do the former without doing the latter, but not the latter without the former. A batsman must be able to work his eyes, hands, legs, and body in perfect unison. To make 50 or even 20 runs, no small amount of pluck, patience, resource, physical strength, and condition is needed. This applies to any ordinary game of cricket. In first-class cricket a batsman is put to an even more exacting test; for the higher the standard of skill, the more is required in every way of the performer. The great desire of every beginner is to score runs in good style. This means the cultivation of certain actions which he will find at first are not natural to him. But by continual practice the artificial actions of cricket become second nature. Of course even the most artificial stroke in cricket implies the development of certain natural gifts. That a considerable part of batting consists of unnatural movements of the body can very easily be seen. An absolute beginner, when a bat is first put into his hands, follows the promptings of nature. Almost every stroke he attempts is some form of a pull with a cross bat. Now, the fundamental principle of good safe batting is playing with a straight bat. So that the beginner has to overcome at the outset certain natural tendencies which, though perhaps good in themselves, do not make for good cricket.

The necessity of playing with a straight bat is the first lesson that a good coach drills into a young batsman. To master it, time and practice are required. Straight play must be acquired as a habit. The lesson must be so well learnt that the necessary movements of the arms and the body become perfectly natural instead of laborious and difficult. Nature must give way to art till, to quote the Hon. Edward Lyttelton's words, "art becomes nature."

Again, uninitiated nature prompts a player to lift the ball in