Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/261

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239
CAPTAINCY.

an automaton is precisely what is not required as a cricketer, A cricketer eleven at variance internally or with its captain is a miserable affair, and sure to play quite a different game from one which is unanimous and works together.

Cohesion between the members of a team depends largely upon the captain's wise and tactful sympathy. The next point is more practical, and has a decided bearing upon the fortunes of particular matches. A captain, whether on his own ground or another, should make it a rule to go and inspect thoroughly the wicket on which the match is to be played, in order that he may be in a position, should he win the toss, to decide whether to take first innings or give it to his opponents. A not too hastily formed judgment about the state of the wicket will also help him considerably in his choice of bowlers. It may be remarked incidentally that the more points a captain thinks out calmly before a match begins, the better is he likely to succeed in his management. A preconcerted plan of action is exceedingly helpful, even though circumstances may arise that make alterations and modifications advisable. It is a mistake to go into the field with only vague ideas as to the best course to pursue: to trust to the inspiration of the moment, as a guide to action, generally leads to blunders and omissions.

A piece of well-rolled, closely mown turf, such as forms the area where wickets are pitched on good cricket-grounds, looks very innocent and guileless. As a matter of fact, few things in the world are more deceptive.

No two pieces of turf are exactly alike, however similar tbcy may appear. The quality of the undersoil and drainage, as well as that of the tuff itself, differs in almost every case. The result is that, given absolutely similar conditions of weather, no two grounds behave in exactly the same way.

Moreover, it is by no means easy to be sure of the behaviour of a particular piece of turf on separate occasions, under conditions that apparently are absolutely identical. The external circumstances which affect the state of a cricket-ground are chiefly rain and sun. And it is difficult to calculate exactly what damp or heat is doing. Nothing but experience and observation can qualify a captain to be a judge of the states of grounds. He should make a point of studying this question as thoroughly as he can.

The chief difficulty to deal with is the effect of rain upon wickets. Wet grounds are the puzzle. When the ground is