Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/191

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169
PLAYING THE BALL.

very rarely recognised. It is, of course, very difficult to make the bat meet the ball in back-play so as to make any kind of forcing-stroke. But any one who wishes to be a great batsman must learn to make his back-play effective. On a difficult wicket, back-play is always of the greatest use. A player depends upon quickness of eye and wrist to meet the unexpected turns and twists of the ball whenever he is batting upon a bowler's wicket. One point to grasp is, that particular care must be taken in playing forward to slow balls, and in playing back to fast ones. In playing forward to slow balls, one is apt to play too quickly, and lift the ball gently into some one's hands. For this reason some good batsmen make it a rule never to play forward to a slow bowler. In playing back to a fast bowler, the thing to remember is, that there is very little time to make the stroke, the margin of error being exceedingly small. The slightest mistiming or misjudgment is fatal.

There is a way of playing certain balls which is often very useful. It is by running out and hitting them on the half-volley or on the full-pitch. Naturally only slow bowlers can be treated in this way with much success. When the batsman makes up his mind to run out, he must do so with a will. There must be no hesitation, no half-measures; such a stroke should be played as if the whole match depended upon it. If a batsman is at all half-hearted about the stroke, the chances are he will not bring it off. When he has gone half-way to meet the ball, it will strike him that he ought not to have left his crease; he will hurry the stroke and lose his wicket. The thing to do is to forget that there is anything in the world except the ball and the hay-field across the boundary.

In playing any kind of bowling, it is best for a batsman, until he becomes perfectly familiar with it, to play quietly and steadily. He should try and find out all there is about the bowling before he starts to make mincemeat of it. It is sometimes worth remembering that while a batsman is at the wicket runs are nearly sure to come. A bowler, however good he may be, is sure to bowl some balls that the batsman can treat easily and confidently: so the batsman should not begin very aggressive operations just at first; he should play the good balls carefully, and score his boundaries off such loose ones as fate may favour him with. When, however, he feels that he has got his eye in, he ought, as far as possible, to take the bowhng under his own management.

One often sees a player who has been batting with ease and