Stock-bowlers of the side; and provided there is nothing to render a stock first-bowler less likely to get wickets than some other on the side, by all means let him begin. Still, I am inclined to think that captains are in the habit of taking it for granted that the two bowlers who are known by results to be the most proficient, taking the whole season through, are also the two best in all circumstances. Results only prove them to be the best in average circumstances. It is sometimes a good plan to give up the usual lines of commencing operations in favour of another. For instance, supposing the two stock first-bowlers are a fast and a medium, but one of the two first batsmen is known to be a poor hand at slows,—should the captain have a slow bowler, he had far better put him on at once to have a go at the batsman in question, before the latter gets his eye in. Remember it is a great mistake to have a hard-and-fast line of action, and to stick to it always. The proper thing is to adapt means to ends, and to use the bowlers that are most likely to prove destructive under the existing conditions.
There is another point to notice in choosing the first two bowlers. They should not only be good bowlers individually, but a good combination. The more of a contrast they are in style the better. When two bowlers of similar styles are on together, the batsman who is at home at one end is at home at the other. The same bowler might almost be bowling at both ends, as far as the batsman is concerned. If he has to play fast bowling one over and slow the next, or right-hand one over and left-hand the next, a batsman cannot get set nearly so readily. The contrast of pace and delivery is likely to cause him to misjudge the ball. It is often forgotten that the bowler who is credited on the score-sheet with the-wicket is not necessarily the one who really got it. A man is often bowled out at one end because he has been unsettled at the other. The best combination is to have a right-hand bowler at one end and a left-hand at the other, especially if they differ in pace.
It sometimes happens that a side has only two good bowlers. In this case they ought to be put on first; or if an inferior bowler is substituted for one of them with some special object in view, he should be removed in favour of the stock-bowler, unless the object is effected in the course of a few overs, or there is some definite indication that it is likely to be effected.
It is very desirable to begin with a fast bowler if you have one, and the wicket is such that he can bowl upon it; for, owing to his pace, he is very liable to get batsmen out when