Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/203

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181
PLAYING THE BALL.

wrists but the arms and shoulders are used in making it. At the same time, I think it should be regarded as a cut rather than a hit; for the ball is sliced rather than met full. When accurately timed, the ball travels very strongly. In some ways it is rather a risky stroke; for if slightly misjudged the ball is liable to be taken too much on the rise, the result being a rather uppish stroke. If the bat comes down upon the ball too much, the stroke does not travel well, because the ball is punched into the ground. The safest and most effective exponent of the forward-cut is Mr W. L. Murdoch. He plays the stroke more with his wrist than any other batsman I have seen. Other players who make use of the stroke are Gunn, Marlow, and Mr A. O. Jones; but none of these make it with the same safeness as Mr Murdoch. They do not watch the ball nearly so closely; they seem to make more of a slash at the ball, and perhaps in their case the stroke is rather a blind one. It is the only unsafe stroke that William Gunn plays: I think he must use it for his own amusement and as a bit of a gamble, or to give the bowlers a chance. The ball for the stroke is one short of good length pitched outside the off-stump, but not quite so short as the ball which the batsman would cut either square or behind the wicket. Some batsmen use the stroke for nearly every ball pitched just outside the off-stump and not too far up.

A square-cut travels somewhere between point and third-man. It is the commonest form of cut. It can be used to play almost any ball short of good length outside the off-stump; but I think most good bats do not use the square-cut for a ball pitched quite so far up as the one best suited for the forward-cut. The square-cut is made by moving the right foot across the wicket till it is about in a line with the off-stump. The ball is hit almost directly it has passed the batsman's body—that is to say, rather sooner than in the case of the late-cut. The speed with which the ball travels depends almost entirely on correct timing. Care should be taken that the ball be hit after rather than before it has risen to its highest point after pitching. The secret of bringing off the stroke successfully is to get well over the ball. The bat should come down from an elevation higher than that of the ball. The severity of the stroke is slightly diminished by the downward motion of the bat, but there is a great gain in point of safety. It is possible to get sufficiently over the ball to make the stroke absolutely safe, and yet strike it hard enough to beat the fielders and reach the boundary. A fine slashing stroke may be made by hitting across the ball rather than on top of it; but this is