Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/215

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193
PLAYING THE BALL.

stroke, there can be no doubt whatever. Short straight balls, if they do not rise too high, can be forced on one side or other of the bowler without forward motion of the body. Similarly, short balls on the leg-side can be despatched to almost any point of the compass on the on-side. This kind of forcing-stroke requires a certain amount of care, or the ball may be hit in the air. If it rises at all high after pitching, it is almost impossible to keep it down with such a stroke.

But there is another way of playing short balls very effectively. This is by the hook-stroke. The player moves slightly back, with his weight more or less on his right foot, faces the ball almost square, and sweeps it round as it rises with a horizontal bat towards the on-boundary. The stroke differs entirely from the genuine pull, in that it is not made at the pitch of the ball. The ball is watched right on to the bat, so that if at the last moment the hook-stroke seems dangerous, an ordinary defensive back-stroke can be substituted for it. Any very short ball, either on the wicket or outside the off-stump, provided it be not too wide, can be hooked round in this way by a strong back-player. Some batsmen use their wrist for the stroke, others do it chiefly with fore-arm and elbow work. Arthur Shrewsbury and Mr A. C. MacLaren are very good at the stroke: the former uses his wrists, the latter his fore-arm. Brown of Yorkshire does it with his fore-arm and a turn of the body. When the wrists are used, the stroke can be made with an almost perpendicular bat; forearm players hit across the ball horizontally.

The next point to notice is, that there is another kind of short ball besides the one we have already mentioned. This is the ball which the batsman makes short for himself. If, instead of standing still, the batsman moves right back to about 18 inches from the wicket, he obviously makes any ball bowled to him shorter than it would have been if he had stood where he was, by the distance between the first and his second position. The ball, which is just short of a good length, is made shorter by a yard if a batsman moves a yard towards his wicket instead of playing it where he originally stood. The extra distance the ball has to travel gives the batsman so much the more time to judge and play it. The only difificulty about moving back in this way is to judge the ball early enough in its flight to be able to complete the backward motion in good time. The player should have moved back and be standing still before he begins to play the stroke. This, of course, requires considerable quickness of eye and foot.