Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/227

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20
PLAYING THE BALL.

tific science of making runs upon birdlime wickets. Forcing tactics of this kind are liable to upset a bowler and cause him to bowl bad-length balls. By playing a quiet game and merely trying to keep his wicket up, a batsman simply shows the bowler how extremely well he is bowling. There are some players who are so strong in their back-play that they can afford to play a patient game, only scoring off an occasional loose ball. Still, few save geniuses can play this game with any success upon a really sticky wicket. Arthur Shrewsbury, Mr F. S. Jackson, and Mr W. H. Patterson are geniuses in this line. The ordinary player can hardly hope to adopt their method successfully. The methods of genius are justified by success, but it is dangerous to copy them without having the necessary qualification in the shape of eye-and-wrist power. No one would be foolish enough to suggest that Arthur Shrewsbury would have met with greater success upon sticky wickets if he had abandoned his back-play in favour of desperate hitting. My advice to a player of any but the highest capacity is to go in to hit whenever the wicket is at all sticky. But if possible, he should always try to give himself the odds in favour of not getting out. Every hit should have a five-to-three chance of being executed and not being caught.

The fiery wicket has fewer terrors for the batsman than crumbled or sticky wickets. But when there is fire in the ground the ball comes very fast off the pitch and is liable to bump. So it requires very careful watching. In playing forward on such a wicket, it is advisable to get as near the pitch of the ball as possible. It is rather dangerous to lunge out to the rising ball; for if the ball bumps, such a stroke is nearly sure to result in a catch by the bowler or one of the fielders on the off-side. At the same time, a player will have to rely principally upon forward-play; the ball comes so quickly from the pitch that back-play is very difficult. Of course the batsman must find out by experiment how far he can rely upon his quickness of wrist; for remember that if a man can play back, it is always the safest method when there is any chance of the ball coming up from the pitch otherwise than would be expected.

One of the great advantages of turning out to have ten minutes' knock before the match begins is, that some idea can be obtained as to the pace and quality of the wicket. Care should be taken to find out how far the practice-wickets and the match-wickets are similar. On many grounds they are differently laid. It is as well that a player should know how many ways there are of getting out. Cricketers sometimes have had to pay the