Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/238

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ball, a batsman is liable to be deceived in his sight. At best the sense of sight is fallible, so it is a great mistake to increase this fallibility by inattention. It is possible to acquire such a habit of attention as that there is no conscious effort in watching the bowler and the ball with concentration. But it is also possible to acquire a habit of inattention by careless play in practice, and herein lies one of the chief evils that result from humbugging at nets. There is much in the advice given to young players by many authorities, always to play at nets just as they would in a match. As far as watching the ball attentively goes, this is very sound advice; but I would qualify it by saying that it is at netpractice where strokes should be learnt, and at a match where they should be put into execution. Not but that much may be learnt in a match, especially if you happen to be in with a good batsman. But net-practice is more suitable than match-play for experiments.

Right at the beginning of this chapter players were recommended in all their strokes to make the bat meet the ball rather than let the ball meet the bat. There are certain strokes, such as the half-cock stroke, in which it is impossible to carry this out—at any rate, when such strokes are used to extricate oneself from errors in judging the ball. I believe in the theory of making the bat meet the ball so far as to say that even defensive strokes should be played in such a manner as to contain latent scoring power, even if this scoring power is not always brought out. The only parallel I can think of in this respect is a move at chess. When your opponent attacks you by a certain move, and you counteract that move by one of your own, your aim should always be that your own move be not only defensive, but have an attacking force of its own. Very few players cultivate their back-play upon such lines as to give them this latent scoring power. Mr Jackson and Mr MacLaren are instances of those who have, and their back-play is proportionately admirable.

Earlier in the chapter a division was made of batting into forward- and back-play, and each of these divisions was subdivided into play for aggressive and for defensive purposes. Just as there should always be a latent aggressive element in back-play, so there should be a latent defensive element in all forward-play. As a batsman must avoid getting out in order to get runs, the defensive element in forward-strokes must be regarded as important. The usual idea is that back-play is for defence and forward-play for aggression. I think the better way of looking at