Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/264

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

ought to have every chance. If he can let his bowlers have a go upon the wicket during its brief stage of difficulty, they may get rid of three or four dangerous batsmen; but the experiment is hazardous, because if the other side manage to tide over the difificult stage their position becomes doubly strong, in that they have the first and third innings, instead of the second and fourth—a great advantage, as will be shown later. However, it would be absurd to say that the risk should never be taken by a side that may win thus, but is extremely unlikely to win anyhow else. A bold policy so often meets with its reward that one can hardly bring oneself to discourage it. In any case, a captain must make quite sure of his facts and exactly understand what he is doing. He must be certain of his bowlers, and certain that they will have a distinct chance of getting wickets rapidly should things go well. Otherwise it is foolhardy rather than bold to relinquish first innings, especially as bowlers are likely to be bothered by not being able to get a proper foothold, and by having to use a wet, heavy ball.

Really wet wickets are the result either of heavy and continuous rain upon any kind of wicket, or of frequent showers upon a ground already fundamentally damp.

Some grounds are famous for their dryness and the rapidity with which they harden after rain; others are notorious for their constitutional dampness and the length of time they take to recover from a sodden state. These differences must always be taken into consideration in dealing with them. A wicket that has been thoroughly soaked may do three things. It may remain wet and sodden for three whole days or longer, owing to the general dampness of the atmosphere, its own reaction upon itself, and the absence of sunshine or a wind. Remember, nothing dries a ground more rapidly and equally than a wind. Or it may grow dry gradually but surely all through by the aid of wind, gentle sunshine, and general atmospheric dryness. Or it may dry with extraordinary rapidity on the top owing to bright, strong sunshine, so that the top becomes first sticky, then baked, while the ground underneath remains wet.

As long as the ground remains wet and sodden all through, it is very difficult to bowl on and very easy to bat on. In fact, it is probably the easiest, though not the pleasantest, to bat on. Some batsmen prefer such wickets to any others. Big scores are not frequent on grounds in this state, simply because the ball comes rather dully off the pitch, and is consequently not so easy to hit hard, and because when hit it travels slowly and with difficulty