Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/234

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ing is perfectly mechanical, its consequences are not very fatal; but against the bowler who changes his pace and his length skilfully, a batsman cannot possibly know beforehand what kind of ball is coming. If he plays on faith, he is sure to make similar strokes at absolutely dissimilar balls. It is, of course, a good thing to watch the bowler closely in order to find out if possible what bowl he is going to bowl; but doing so must not prevent a batsman from watching the ball itself while in the air. By constant practice and attention a player will find himself enabled to make watching the ball and resolving how to play it, as it were, one and the same thing. The sight of the ball in the air will cause him to make the right stroke without conscious resolve. The sooner the resolve as to how you are going to play is made, the longer time is there to get into the attitude most suitable for the execution of the stroke. An early and correct judgment of the ball obviates hurry or bustle. The reason why some players make their strokes with more force and effect than others is very largely due to their having acquired the habit of judging the ball very early in its flight. Of course the secondary part of timing, which consists in meeting the ball at the right moment and in the right spot, is the gist of the matter; but this depends very largely on the primary part of timing—early and correct judgment of the ball. The timing of the ball is, in every stroke, the secret of hard hitting. For this reason, a small and apparently weak man often makes the ball travel with more force than does a very big one. Even such great hitters as Mr Percy Macdonald, Mr Lyons, Sir Timothy O'Brien, Mr Stoddart, and Maurice Read owe the power of their strokes more to timing than to strength. It is rather difificult to explain the exact method by which all available force is brought to bear upon a stroke. There is a great difference in this respect between strokes in front of and strokes behind the wicket. After putting himself into the correct position, all a batsman has to do, in order to make a good crisp cut, is to hit the ball from the top at the right moment without the use of much force. The pace already imparted to the ball by the bowler is helped on and added to by a flick of the bat, executed either with the wrist or some movement of the arms. Consequently, the faster the bowler the easier is it to make hard cuts and glances. Putting "beef" into strokes in front of the wicket is a different matter. Besides hitting the ball at exactly the right moment and in the right way, it is necessary to utilise the weight of the body, the swing of the arms, and the flick of the wrist. Timing, in the more restricted