Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/240

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the case is, that every stroke made in cricket should contain both elements. Perhaps, however, a beginner ought to aim at perfecting the defensive side of such strokes as he attempts before paying too much attention to scoring with them. In order to make forward strokes safely defensive, the player should aim at smothering the ball as much as possible—that is to say, in making a forward-stroke he should get as near the pitch of the ball as he can without stretching his leg out too far or playing the ball in front of his leg. If this is done, and the full face of the bat presented to the ball, the forward-stroke should be fairly straight. One great advantage of getting as near as possible to the pitch of the ball in playing forward is, that the angle of the break is proportionately diminished. The less distance there is between the spot where the ball pitches and the spot where it is played by the bat, the less will it have deviated from its original Hne of flight. This means that the nearer you play to the pitch of the ball, the less chance is there of the ball beating the bat. There is always a portion of a forward-stroke which is played on faith, for there is a time during it when the batsman cannot possibly see the ball—at least, so it seems to me. For in playing forward, however closely the ball is watched, the stroke is made rather where the batsman expects the ball to come than where he knows it will come. In order to make a forward-stroke effectively aggressive, the batsman must throw himself into the correct attitude. And he will have to time the ball accurately in the way described above. Here, again, the nearer he gets to the pitch of the ball, the better chance will he have of getting over it and despatching it safely along the ground.

Let us suppose that a good-length ball suitable for forwardplay has been bowled pitching on the middle stump and continuing straight towards it. In order to play the stroke correctly, the left leg should be thrown forward straight down the wicket in a line to the off-stump at the other end. It should not be advanced too far, otherwise the right foot may be pulled forward over the popping-crease. The left shoulder and the left elbow should point in the direction in which the ball is being played, which normally would be straight back at the bowler. Unless the left shoulder is kept forward the bat cannot be kept absolutely straight, as it should be from the beginning of the swing to the end. At the same time, there should be nothing stiff or tied-up about the shoulder. In making the stroke the batsman's chest should face towards mid-off or extra-cover rather than towards the bowler. In striking the ball