Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/187

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165
PLAYING THE BALL.

would give a beginner a far better idea of what I mean than three volumes full of words. It will be seen from the illustrations that the position of the hands is changed during the forward-stroke. Some players do not turn the left hand round the bat as they play forward, but most of the best and freest exponents of the stroke do so. Before making the stroke the left wrist is on the side of the bat away from the wicket-keeper, whereas in the making of the stroke it gradually turns round till it is on the opposite side. One of the great points to bear in mind, whether playing back or forward, is that the ball must be kept down. In order to do this effectively, the bat at the time it comes in contact with the ball must be slanting forwards—that is to say, the blade of the bat should slope over the ball, the top being nearer to the bowler than the bottom. In order to make the stroke in this way, the left shoulder must be kept well forward, pointing in the direction towards which the stroke is played. In playing forward, the batsman must make the most of his weight, height, and reach. The whole weight of his body should be brought to bear upon the ball. The more the weight of the body comes into the stroke just when the bat meets the ball, the greater will be the power of the stroke. Reach depends upon height and length of limb. The longer reach the batsman has, the better will he be able to smother the ball—that is to say, play it almost as soon as it has pitched. The great thing, however, in making a forward-stroke is, that the whole action be smooth and uniform. It should be essentially one action, not two or three separate ones. The moving of the left foot forward, the swinging of the bat into line with the foot, the forward motion of the body after the bat, should be, as it were, one action. The whole thing should be done at one and the same moment, and in one and the same motion. If the batsman cuts up the action of the stroke into separate parts, something must be sacrificed; either the weight is not brought to bear on the ball, or balance is lost. The result is an emasculated stroke. The difference in the power with which various players make their forward-stroke is extraordinary. Those who have brought the stroke to perfection can make it with almost the same force as they can a full drive. A bad forward-player scarcely pushes the ball past mid-off. A batsman should accustom himself by constant practice to the movement and action necessary for the forward-stroke. He should ask the bowler with whom he practises to send him down ball after ball suited to forward-playing. The necessary action should be made into a habit.