Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/199

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177
PLAYING THE BALL.

to be mistimed, unless a batsman who is playing forward has enough reserve to be able to stop the stroke and effect some compromise.

There can be no doubt that most strokes are made or marred by the batsman's power or lack of eye. No amount of coaching, or reading books on the game, or watching eminent players, will enable a man with imperfect sight to become a good cricketer. The ball is the disturbing element in cricket; it needs to be watched, and watched well. The man with the good eye, who watches the flight of the ball accurately, ought never to be bowled out by a yorker. A yorker does not exist absolutely: its existence depends upon some mistake made by the batsman in judging the flight of the ball. This is rather enigmatical,—it smacks of metaphysics; but the practical aspect of the statement is, that no yorker is ever bowled which by proper timing might not be turned into a full-pitch. Batsmen make balls into yorkers in two ways. One is by mistaking a ball that will pitch about on the popping-crease for a genuine half-volley. The other is by mistaking for a full-pitch a ball which is really a half-volley. In the first case the ball comes farther than is expected. In the second it does not come quite so far. With regard to the half-volley mistaken for a full-pitch, there is not much to be said. The other kind of yorker, which is really a full-pitch on to the bat and ought to be played as such, gets a great many wickets. The moment a batsman finds he is not going to play such a ball on the full-pitch, he had better drop his bat down in his block-hole instantaneously. It is said of Dr Grace that no one can bowl him a yorker. This means that he very rarely misjudges the flight of the ball. Wherein he is almost alone in the cricket world.


Let us now consider back- and forward-play in its aggressive rather than in its defensive aspect. Hitherto the main idea underlying my remarks has been how not to get out. To score off balls is, however, the duty of the batsman while he is at the wicket; he should combine attack with defence.

Scoring-strokes may be divided into four divisions, according to their direction—those in front of the wicket on the off-side, those behind the wicket on the off-side, those in front of the wicket on the on-side, and those behind the wicket on the on-side. It will be found that most players are stronger on the off-side than in their strokes towards the on-side. Present-day bowlers do not bowl at the wicket so much as those of some years ago. Wickets