Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/232

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of the great difficulties in learning to bat consists in adapting the motion of the body and the swing of the arms to the condition of the bat being held straight.

It must not be understood, however, that the bat should be held straight for every stroke. This is impossible in the case of the cut, the pull, the hook, and some of the drive-strokes. The old-fashioned theory that any stroke played with a cross-bat must be bad cricket does not hold water, A stroke which is safe and effective cannot be bad cricket. Of course, cross-bat strokes should only be used to play such balls as are best played with a cross-bat. Such strokes are only bad style when badly used. It would be absurd to play a straight half-volley or good-length ball with a cross-bat, just as it would be to attempt to cut in the same way as a drive is made. Hooks and pulls should only be used when the batsman feels absolutely certain that he can hit the ball in this manner with perfect safety. Neither of them should be, in any sense of the word, a gamble. The whole art of scoring by the pull or the hook is to select the right ball.

When a batsman has grasped the theory and practice of straight-bat play, he may turn his attention to timing. Now, what is timing? As used by cricketers, the word covers a lot of ground. It seems to me that timing is not only hitting the ball at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right attitude, and with the right action, but also the preceding mental resolve formed while the ball is in the air as to how the. ball shall be played. The mental process is sometimes distinguished from timing by the term "judging the flight of the ball." But I think it is better to treat the judgment of the ball in the air, the mental resolve, and the accurate co-operation of hand, arm, body, and eye at the time of playing as forming one whole process. When all the elements of the process are combined in the best possible way, the stroke will be made with the greatest effect and with the least exertion.

The first thing to avoid is making up your mind what to do before the ball has left the bowler's hands. A previous resolve of this kind is formed absolutely without any data. If the ball expected is bowled, well and good; otherwise the stroke has to be corrected. Men lose their wickets by having to correct their strokes more often than for any other reason. Obviously all the time spent in making the first and wrong part of a corrected stroke is wasted. The fault of judging the ball before it is bowled is very common among young players. When the bowl-