Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/246

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they themselves are incapable of playing it, criticise the pushstroke as being unfair. On certain kinds of wickets—such as, for instance, a very sticky wicket—the bowlers have everything their own way. In such circumstances a batsman has two courses open to him. He may either hit hard and high and trust to luck, or he may play a strictly defensive game. Now, some men cannot hit, so the careful game is the only one open to them. These players are surely justified in making their defence as strong as possible by every available means. The scientific use of the legs is of material help to them. But to master the art is extremely difficult; it requires great quickness of judgment and movement, as well as considerable discrimination. Anything in the shape of unscientific leg-play is worse than useless. A man must be master of the art or it will do him no good. Any one who has tried experiments in this class of play will know that there is much more in it than meets the eye. Arthur Shrewsbury is a great exponent of the method. The skill with which he uses his legs on treacherous wickets is nothing short of miraculous. His comrade in arms, William Gunn, can also play this game very ably; so can Mr Stoddart and Mr Jackson—a fact not generally known. The difference between the play of the two amateur and the two professionals is, that the former make use of the method when it is not necessary to resort to it, whereas Mr Stoddart and Mr Jackson only do so when there is no other course open save wild slogging. It is not the use of the method, but the abuse of it, that can with any fairness be adversely criticised. The instant the method becomes useless and unnecessary I do not advocate it for one moment. When circumstances make it useful it is, I think, perfectly justifiable. What is more, I strongly advise any players who find they can make good use of their legs to use them whenever they think they can strengthen their game by so doing. It is not conducive to elegance or to rapid scoring, but it is very effective for all that: its justification is expediency; when not expedient it is waste of time. In any case, the skill required to do it with effect exempts it from any charge of being unsportsmanlike.

Some batsmen show a want of consideration for the captain and other members of their side by allowing themselves to become victims of fads and superstitions. They believe, or affect to believe, that they cannot get runs if they go in to bat at the fall of a certain number of wickets, or when a certain number of runs are on the scoring-board, or because they have seen an omen or dreamed a dream. They turn up after the order of