Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/176

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the air rather than hit it along the ground. But to be able to make large scores with any consistency, the knack of keeping the ball down must be acquired as a habit, and become so habitual as to be practically natural. The making of nearly all strokes in cricket requires the man to put himself into certain positions if the strokes are to be properly made. And these positions have nearly all to be learnt; they do not come naturally to the large majority of mankind. What makes batting so hard is the necessity of teaching the body to assume these positions unconsciously but with perfect certainty. Good style, then, practically consists of the power of making easily and rapidly such movements of the limbs as are necessary for the effective making of various strokes. There is a certain class of batsmen nowadays who sacrifice effectiveness in order to attain what is called a pretty style. But a style which is not so effective as it might be can hardly claim to be either good or beautiful. Of course a good style is often beautiful—in fact, more often so than not. When a stroke is made with ease and grace, it usually means that the batsman has acquired a complete mastery of the art. But it is a great mistake to get into the habit of putting the bat where there is no ball, simply with a view to making strokes that are pretty. The fault is by no means an uncommon one. Such play would be excellent if it were not for the fact that the bowler bowls the ball not to suit the batsmen, but to get their wickets.

Right from the beginning, then, every batsman ought to make it his aim and object to acquire a style that is, whatever else it may be, safe, sound, and effective. In order to attain this end, a beginner will require an efficient coach. To find one ought not to be very difficult nowadays. A coach is as essential to a student of cricket as he is to a student of any other scientific game or pursuit. One sometimes hears a considerable amount of criticism levelled against the modern style of coaching. It is urged that boys ought not to be taught too early or too much, and that the great players of olden times were almost without exception self-taught. The idea is, that as it is quite natural for English boys to go on to a piece of turf and play cricket, the game will come to them naturally and without extraneous assistance. At any rate, it is suggested that better cricketers are produced by leaving boys to their own devices up to a certain age than by taking them in hand early. As to the great players of olden days, it may be remarked that their skill was probably due to extraordinary natural aptitude. No doubt they were geniuses, and did not require coaching. But there is nothing to prove