Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/244

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cramped. A ball which would pass close to the wicket should be played otherwise than by cutting. It is advisable, in bending over the ball to cut, to lean forward from the waist rather than to bend the knees.

It was in connection with cutting that the desirability of learning the art of placing was mentioned. Unless a batsman, after reaching a certain stage in batting skill, devotes himself to learning how to place, he is sure to find that many of the strokes he has been at such pains to perfect are rendered useless by the fact that they always go to fieldsmen. By cultivating placing, a batsman makes his game pliable and versatile. He also gains in confidence by feeling that he has resource. There is no possible way of teaching a batsman how to place. The only thing to do is always to bear in mind, in making any stroke, the direction in which one desires it to go. In some strokes, such as the cut or the glance, very little practice will give a man a certain facility in placing the ball, and as soon as he gets this his scoring-power will have increased 25 per cent.

There is a refinement, or at least I consider it to be one, of the art of batting which a writer must approach rather delicately. It is the much-abused art of using the legs to defend the wicket. During the last few years the methods of certain players of indisputable ability have been severely criticised in some quarters, on the ground that it is unsportsmanlike to play with the legs. If the critics understood the point more thoroughly, they would not be so ready with blame. Most of them are, I think, players who are unable themselves to use their legs to any effect, and behave after the manner of the dog in the manger. The great point raised against the practice is, that the bat and not the legs is the proper instrument for defending the wicket. This objection is purely sentimental and requires to be looked into. It must be admitted at the outset that the habit of using the legs when occasion does not demand it is absurd. It does not bring runs, and it does annoy the spectators. On the other hand, when circumstances make it advisable to use them there seems to be no sufficient reason why batsmen should not play with their legs. It is to be remarked that no one objects to a man playing forward with his leg close to his bat; it is generally understood that by so doing he makes his forward-strokes safer. It is only, when the legs are utilised in such a manner as to obstruct the ball and prevent it hitting the wicket that any outcry is raised. It appears to me that this use of the legs is more or less parallel to the pushstroke in billiards. Many players, for no other reason than that