Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/209

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187
PLAYING THE BALL.

will travel like lightning to the boundary. The two great exponents of the stroke are Mr Percy Macdonald, the great Australian hitter, and Sir T. C. O'Brien.

The strokes which have been mentioned hitherto are suitable for playing balls of a good length or short good-length. The drive off the half-volley is one which every player ought to be able to make. A half-volley ought always to be hit in the direction in which it will travel most naturally. It is a mistake to force its direction. Take care not to try to pull a half-volley. This is very dangerous, as the slightest mistake is almost sure to prove fatal. In common with drives off good-length balls, the drive off the half-volley described above should be played without leaving your ground.

There is another kind of drive altogether which is sometimes called the quick-footed drive. This means that the batsman runs down the wicket until he gets to the pitch of the ball, and then drives it. Clearly, if he only had time, a batsman could get to the pitch of any ball bowled. Cricketers, however, in common with other men, have their limitations; so there are only certain balls which can be played successfully in this style. I have already shown that the running-out stroke is useful sometimes for defensive purposes—that is to say, it is a good means of making a difficult ball easy. But from another point of view it is perhaps the most aggressive stroke in cricket. It is distinctly a case of going for the bowling. Few batsmen play the stroke even fairly well. Arthur Shrewsbury is very clever at it; Mr Stoddart, too, makes it one of the great points in his game. Mr Jessop of Gloucestershire, in his own way, makes some extraordinarily fine drives by running out. The stroke should only be played when a batsman, if he stands where he is, cannot get sufficiently near to the pitch of the ball to drive it.

In all forward-play for aggressive purposes One of the chief faults to be found in most players is, that they bend their right knee in making the stroke. This bending of the knee upsets the balance, and consequently takes much of the force out of the stroke. If a man is struggling to recover his balance, he cannot be getting the weight of his body properly into the stroke. Further, when the right knee is bent it is almost certain that the right shoulder sinks with it. When the right shoulder is dropped in making any kind of forward-stroke or drive, the batsman is nearly sure to be getting under instead of over the ball. Besides, the very fact that the right shoulder sinks proves that some weight is being thrown in the opposite direction to that in which the