Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/247

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225
PLAYING THE BALL.

going in has been made out, and request a change to be made that upsets the entire arrangement. Sometimes it is the particular period of the day that causes them qualms of confidence; and the frequency with which their innings coincide with an unfavourable hour is extraordinary. It would be just as well to remark that batsmen should be satisfied with the position allotted to them by the captain and abide by his arrangements, unless something more than mere fancy makes them demand an alteration. From the captain's point of view, it is sometimes expedient to make allowances for such fancies, but batsmen ought to eschew or overcome them. As a general rule, a little firmness on the captain's part has a good effect. A friend of mine, I remember, on a certain occasion declared that he could not possibly make runs if he went in first. The captain insisted upon his doing so. The batsman went in so disgusted that he knocked the bowling all over the field, only narrowly missing a century. Ever since then he has liked going in first—in fact, he objects strongly to going in anywhere else.

In the course of nearly every season a time comes to most batsmen when they are not so successful as they wish and are expected to be. A sudden failure of a good batsman to get his customary quota of runs is usually attributed to so-called staleness. Before inquiring what staleness is, it would be well to repeat the advice not to lose heart at a period such as this, but to play on, if possible, with the same keenness and confidence as before. All batsmen, from the top of the tree downwards, have their ups and downs, and sometimes the downs come all of a heap. There is no remedy that can be recommended, as far as one can see. When a cricketer is not making runs, he is usually said to be stale. The facts of the case may be, that he is having ill-luck, or is playing badly, or is in love; but the elastic and mysterious word staleness covers all this. In athletic circles the term is usually regarded as meaning loss of form through excessive exercise. In other words, the muscles used in this or that athletic pursuit are for the time being worn out. But a cricketer finds the term a convenient answer to all questions as to why he is not scoring, and it is usually accepted as a sufficient explanation. Sometimes whole elevens are said to be stale, and the advice usually given them by those interested is to rest and give themselves the chance of recovering. The Hon. Ed. Lyttelton seems to me to have said the last word on the subject of staleness. He points out that monotony is the secret of