Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/178

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which in the opinion of the coach is dangerous or unsound. Instead of showing the beginner the safest method of making that stroke, many coaches try to eradicate it altogether. This, I think, is a mistake. For instance, there are players who can pull with great effect. Coaches usually advise such players to leave the stroke alone altogether. The result is that the batsman gradually loses the power of making the stroke. It would be far better in a case of that kind to teach the batsman what kind of balls ought to be pulled and what ought not; to show him the right and the wrong use of the stroke. The reason why a pull is considered bad style is, that bad batsmen use it indiscriminately, no matter what ball is bowled; in fact, they play with a cross bat when they ought to be playing with a straight one. It is quite true that few except finished batsmen make the stroke—a very effective stroke, indeed, when applied to the right ball—with safety and certainty. But I think the reason of this is, that coaches universally discourage any use of the pull whatsoever; so that the average batsman never learns how to do it properly. It is a much easier stroke if the right ball is picked than the off-drive, and I fail to see that it is any more difficult to choose the right ball in the one case than in the other. Of course it is absolutely essential not to mistake the ordinary rustic cross-bat stroke for the scientific pull.

In former days, when wickets were not nearly so good as they are now, it would perhaps have been a mistake to let small boys practise at professional and fast bowling. Nowadays things are quite different. A decent practice-wicket can be found almost everywhere. Boys do not now play on rough-and-tumble wickets, on which only those possessing exceptional natural gifts are likely to come successfully out of the ordeal. Great care should be taken that boys be not put to play upon bad wickets. It is quite easy nowadays, what with the increase of knowledge about grounds and the improvement of implements, to secure a really good cricket-pitch. To do so ought to be the aim and object of all school authorities. Nothing is so apt to take the zeal and pluck out of a boy as being knocked about on bad wickets. It is customary at some schools to allow boys to play football during the winter months on the same ground on which cricket is played during the summer. Even if football is not played over the match-pitches, a cricket-ground is certainly not benefited by such rough usage. The out-fielding and practice-wickets are sure to suffer. Every attempt ought to be made to separate football- and cricket-grounds.