Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/186

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to peg it down. I had to have my right leg pegged down almost every time I practised during my first two years at serious cricket. I did not learn to stand still when I was a small boy, so I had to start learning how to do it after having contracted bad habits. A boy who starts fair and is told exactly what he ought to do should have no difficulty in learning to stand still. I have never yet seen any one who began cricket late in life able to keep his right leg where it ought to be.


All strokes are of one of two kinds—back and forward. In both of these the foundation of good play is making the bat meet the ball instead of letting the ball merely hit the bat, whether the stroke be offensive or defensive. Back- and forward-play may be subdivided into back- and forward-play for defensive purposes, and back- and forward-play for offensive purposes. Every one, on first beginning to learn to bat, plays back to a certain extent; forward-play is almost entirely an acquired and cultivated style.

Having said this much by way of being methodical, I am going to ask to be allowed to abandon method altogether. Somehow batting will not allow itself to be reduced to method in my mind. Let us begin by considering some aspects of forward-play as a defensive and offensive method. Let us suppose, for instance, that a good-length ball well pitched up has been delivered on a good hard wicket. To meet this the player should move his left foot forward as far as he conveniently can in the direction of the ball as it comes towards him, and should play the ball with a perfectly upright bat swinging along a straight line between the wicket and the point of contact of bat and ball. In extending the left foot great care must be taken not to overbalance or overreach oneself. The result of overreaching is, that the player draws his right foot over the popping-crease so as to run a chance of being stumped if the ball beats the bat. Nor must balance be lost, as with it goes the power of making an effective stroke. The action of extending the left foot forward and bringing the bat after it to meet the ball should be even and precise. This evenness and precision mean force and effectiveness. Mark, then: in playing the ball the bat should be as close as possible to the left leg, or, what comes to the same thing, the left leg should be planted within an inch or two of the line of the ball's flight. A couple of minutes' actual demonstration by a good player