Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/202

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are so good and true, unless spoilt by rain, that to clean bowl a good batsman is next door to impossible. So bowlers have adopted almost universally what is known as the off-theory. They pitch the majority of their balls either on the off-stump or just outside it. All the fieldsmen except two or three are also placed on the off-side. Over and over is then bowled with the idea of getting the batsman caught by one of the fielders on the off-side of the wicket. The batsman hardly ever gets balls on the leg-side nowadays. What on-play there is, is usually off straight balls. There can be no question that the bowlers of the present day are much more accurate than the bowlers of the past. This does not mean that the old-time bowlers were not equally capable of putting the ball exactly where they wished. The fact is, they never troubled much about accuracy of pitch, because the state of the wicket nearly always gave them sufficient assistance to get the batsmen out for comparatively small scores. The universal adoption of the off-theory by bowlers provides all batsmen with any amount of practice at off-strokes. They lack practice at on-strokes to a corresponding extent.

Let us now take some strokes one by one. It is supposed, for the sake of convenience, that the wicket is hard and true.

First of all, there is the cut—a stroke which every batsman ought to master. For not only is it undoubtedly one of the most beautiful strokes from the spectator's point of view, but it is also extremely useful and fruitful. With the exception of the glide, the cut costs the batsman less exertion and expenditure of energy than any other stroke. A player who is a very good cutter has a great many runs in his bag. With this one stroke and a certain amount of defence, a batsman can make runs in any class of cricket. For scoring purposes there is no stroke to equal it.

Cuts are of three kinds. There is the forward-cut, the square-cut, and the late-cut. Some authorities, I believe, do not regard the forward-cut as a cut at all, but I think the term is applicable to the stroke in question. At one time the forward-cut used to be far more generally used than it is now. It is made by bringing the left foot right across the wicket towards the line of the ball, which is a short one outside the off-stump. The right foot is not moved. The bat is brought down on the ball more or less horizontally. The direction that the ball takes after being hit may be anywhere between point and cover-point. The stroke requires far more accurate timing than the ordinary square-cut or the late-cut; it is also more of a hit, inasmuch as not only the