Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/248

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

failure of nerve-power. He shows this by citing examples of staleness in runners and racehorses. In the case of a runner certain muscles are utilised every day during training in order that they may be developed as highly as possible, so as to enable him to do his best on the day of the race. This continual strain on the body to develop particular muscles undoubtedly tends to strengthen these up to a certain point. But the process cannot be carried on indefinitely. The time comes when the system refuses to be drained any more in favour of the particular muscles. It is just before this refusal that a man is at his best: he is literally trained to a turn. But after this point is reached the athlete begins going down the hill. If there were no turning-point, it might be fairly argued that the more practice and the severer the training an individual is subjected to, the better performer will he become. Experience proves that this is not the case. The whole art of a good trainer consists in bringing his man or his horse to the race precisely at the time when the particular muscles required have got all they can out of the rest of the body. After the zenith has been reached, staleness sets in. But how far does this apply to cricket? In cricket there is no monotonous exercise of one particular set of muscles. The several parts of the game—batting, bowling, and fielding—call different muscles into play. In batting, almost every stroke is effected by the use of different muscles. In bowling, a man who changes his pace and length and height of delivery does not rely entirely upon a single set of muscles. In fielding, the whole body comes into play. So it seems very unlikely that a cricketer can get stale in the same sense as a runner or an oar. There is no monotony to induce this kind of staleness in a cricketer. Too much net-practice, whether batting or bowling, may in a certain sense be called monotonous; but the word ought not to be applicable to anything that happens in actual matches. The presence of the spectators, the keen desire to master the bowling and defy the fielding, should make it impossible for a batsman to find cricket monotonous. Similar arguments apply to the case of the batsman or the fielder. Cricket is an inspiriting game; and anything which raises the spirits and cheers the heart relieves to a great extent any strain on the muscles, just as dulness and monotony increase or exaggerate fatigue. Staleness, in the athletic or restricted meaning of the word, does not seem possible in cricket. As a term of wide application, including bad health, bad luck.