Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/180

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Much may be done in the way of self-coaching. A boy should always remember, when practising without his coach, those points to which his attention has been called. Some authorities think there is great virtue in practising strokes and positions without a ball or bowler. It can be done in the bedroom, in fact. The idea is, that such practice gets the body used to the movements required on the field, so that when the strokes are tried in games the necessary positions are more readily assumed. I have never tried this kind of practice myself, but there is certainly no harm in it. Looking-glasses and wash-hand-basins are the only things likely to suffer by bedroom practice. The great Harry Jupp is said to have practised daily in front of a looking-glass in order to make sure of playing with a straight bat. He had a chalk line on the floor, and used to swing his bat up and down it. They tell me Bobby Abel does this too nowadays; and yet they say he does not play with a straight bat. At any rate, such practice shows a proper feeling about the game. No stone should be left unturned in order to improve and develop one's batting. It must be remembered that a great amount of labour, and even drudgery, is required before a man can become a really good player. The greater and more consistent the effort after improvement, the sooner will a fair degree of skill be acquired. At the same time, playing cricket ought not to be turned into a weariness of the flesh. Boys should be taught to work at it, but they should also be taught to love it.

Young players should always be encouraged to bring their imitative faculties to bear upon cricket. They should be advised to watch good players, and to absorb into their own play everything that is good in that of others. But they should be careful not to try and imitate strokes which do not fit in with their own peculiarities. It would obviously be a mistake for a small thickset boy to try and imitate certain of William Gunn's strokes. On the whole, I think more cricket can be learnt by watching good performers than in any other way. But it must not be forgotten that, in order to imitate with good results, a considerable amount of common-sense and hard thought is required. Cricket is worth working at and thinking about. There are few pleasures in the world greater than that of making runs and making them well. A well-timed late cut is as sweet a thing as there is. A big drive, clean and true, gives a satisfaction that cannot be expressed in words.