Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/216

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In making the hook-stroke the batsman must avoid playing the ball into the hands either of mid-on or short-leg. It is quite possible to get over the ball well if the bat be sufficiently lifted before the stroke is made. The difficulty in making the hookstroke increases with the pace at which the ball comes. To hook a fast bowler on a hard wicket, however short he is bowling, is by no means safe or easy. But it is not anything like so hazardous a proceeding as it looks, if the batsman is determined not to flinch. On slow wickets of all descriptions the hook-stroke is worth any other three for scoring purposes. Batsmen of the old school very much disliked the hook-stroke on principle. Many very fine batsmen are content merely to stop short straight balls, even on a dead wicket. Such balls, however, may be safely despatched to the boundary almost as easily as they can be stopped. The hook-stroke off short balls from a fast bowler, when the ball is coming straight for the body or head, requires some nerve. Many batsmen are simply content to get out of the way of them. But it is quite possible to whip any such balls as these round towards square-leg. A player with strong wrists and good eyesight ought to stand up to such balls fearlessly. I once saw a magnificent batting side simply frightened out by the Australian bowler Jones. The wicket was rather fiery and the bowling was rather fast, but still there was no need to go in with the intention of getting out as soon as possible. The match in question was played at Sheffield Park last year, and was the first of the Australians' tour. To the credit of the amateur element, Dr W. G. Grace and Mr F. S. Jackson, both played grand innings, in spite of being much knocked about. The latter had one of his ribs Isroken, but he kept on to the end, hooking Jones's fastest deliveries, however near they happened to go to his head.

A good-length ball, pitching just outside the leg-stump, may be forced to the on-side by stepping back and making a wriststroke when the ball is almost on a level with the bat, which should swing just in front of the legs. This is an extremely useful stroke for balls on the leg-side. After a certain amount of practice and experience, a batsman can acquire the power of playing the same stroke at straight balls, though of course with some danger of getting out leg-before in attempting to do so It is a very useful stroke when bowlers are trying to bowl maidens. I remember a match in which this stroke played rather an important part. In a match last year between Somerset and Sussex, Somerset went in for the fourth innings of the match to