Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/225

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203
PLAYING THE BALL.

the batsman is justified in attempting short runs and risking his wicket. When the bowling is very good and runs are very difficult to get, running short runs is often useful; it demoralises sometimes not only the bowlers, but the whole fielding side. The Australians have demonstrated this very usefully once or twice. In some of the earlier matches during their tour in 1896 their first batsmen failed before good bowling, and nothing but the desperate tactics adopted by some of the middle batsmen of their team, who literally played tip-and-run, saved the side from getting out for very small totals. When time is short, and runs have to be made as quickly as possible, the shorter the runs are the better.

Batsmen, besides learning the various strokes, must study the relation of strokes to the wickets. The stroke which is excellent to use on a good hard wicket is not always equally so under other conditions. Most of the strokes already described have been treated rather with the idea that the wicket be good and hard. This kind of wicket is the one which batsmen, as a rule, like best. They can play forward as much as they like, and back if the case requires it. Most of the large scores made nowadays are compiled on wickets of this kind. On such wickets batsmen usually defend their wicket as well as make their forcingstrokes by forward-play. Another wicket which is in the batsman's favour is a hard wicket wet on the surface. He can play forward on it as much as he likes with perfect safety, provided he looks out for balls that shoot or keep low. When the surface of a pitch is greasy with rain that has not made it in the very least soft, the ball is liable to skid along with extraordinary rapidity. It is rather amusing to hear what people say when, after a break of a few minutes owing to a shower, a player on resuming his batting is unfortunate enough to get out. The usual remark is, that interruption has put his eye out—he was well set before the rain. This, I think, is usually an incorrect explanation of what has happened. The reason why a man gets out in such circumstances is not because his eye is upset, but because it is set too well. Having got into the pace of the wicket before the rain came, he does not take into consideration the extra speed at which the ball travels when the wicket is wet on top. He probably plays too late and misses the ball. So after a shower has fallen on a hard wicket, batsmen should look out for the ball coming very fast and keeping rather low. It is a mistake on a wicket like this to set yourself either for a pull or a hook. Note, by the way, that the faster the ball comes the harder it is to make a well-timed pull or hook.