Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/241

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219
PLAYING THE BALL.

and following through after it, the bat should pass within 1 or 1½ inch of the left leg. If the same ball is bowled pitching on the off-stump, the stroke is precisely the same, except that the left leg is thrown slightly across the wicket. When the ball is outside the off-stump, the left leg should be thrown still farther across. Notice that when playing forward at a straight ball the bat swings down the same line as that down which the ball is coming, only exactly in an opposite direction; but directly a ball is bowled outside the wicket, whether to the off or to the on, the bat no longer swings down the line along which the ball is coming, but along another line which crosses the flight of the ball at an angle. And the wider the ball is from the wicket, the less does the line of the bat's swing coincide with the line of the flight of the ball. Consequently, the wider the ball is outside the wicket, the smaller is the margin of error for the stroke. This sounds rather intricate, but an illustration makes it quite plain. The wider the ball is, therefore, the more difficult it is to play as well as to reach. The mistake most beginners make in playing forward is that, no matter in what line the ball may be, they advance the left leg straight down the wicket. It will be found on experiment that if this is done, the wider the ball is from the wicket the more crooked will be the bat. Experience proves also that if the left leg be not thrown across so as to be almost in a line with the flight of the ball, there is a tendency to make an uppish stroke. Again, if the left leg be advanced down the wicket while the bat is making a stroke towards extra-cover, a considerable portion of the weight of the body must be sent in a direction that is by no means the direction of the stroke, and consequently must be more or less wasted. The deduction is, that unless the leg be moved out close to the spot where the bat is to meet the ball, the stroke is likely to be weak and feeble. Perhaps a beginner is prevented from throwing his leg across by a feeling that he is likely to be leg-before. He must get over this idea at once, for it is a mere delusion. He begins by not moving his leg across when a ball is pitched on or immediately outside the off-stump, and finally he is led into not moving it across even when the ball is much wider. One great advantage of playing a forward-stroke with the leg near to the bat is that, if the ball breaks enough to beat the bat, there is no room for it to pass between the bat and the leg; consequently, for defensive purposes the breadth of the leg as well as of the bat, to say nothing of the small space in between them, is available for purposes of defence.