Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/285

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263
CAPTAINCY.

are, first, that they may help the bowlers to get the batsmen out; and second, that they may save as many runs as possible. Now, in order to realise these two objects the fieldsmen must be so placed that they are as far as may be exactly in the spots to which batsmen hit the ball, either as catches or along the ground. Clearly a field put where the batsman cannot or is extremely unlikely to hit the ball is not only useless where he is, but leaves unoccupied a spot where he might be useful. This placing of a field is like losing a seat in a parliamentary election: it counts two on a division.

In order, then, to put the fieldsmen in the places they ought to occupy, a captain must know or ascertain where batsmen are likely to hit. The direction in which a batsman hits depends principally upon his style—that is, the sum of his strokes—but partly also upon the kind of balls served to him, and upon the condition of the wicket. If a batsman has not got certain strokes, he obviously is not likely to hit in certain directions. For instance, a man who has no off-drive will probably never hit a ball to the place sometimes occupied by deep-extra-cover. On the other hand, the probable direction of a batsman's strokes depends upon the kind of balls he has to play. Good-length balls outside the off-stump are more likely to be cut or driven on the off than hit to long-on. Slow balls are more likely to be driven in the air towards the long-field than fast ones; and so on. Another point that must be considered in this connection is the probable direction of mis-strokes—that is to say, where a batsman is likely to send the ball if he misjudges it, or fails to play as he meant. Obviously this depends partly on the kind of stroke attempted, partly on the kind of ball bowled.

The state of the wicket affects the arrangement of the fields thus. Whether the wicket is hard or soft, dead or sticky, crumbly or fiery, makes a considerable difference to where strokes and mis-strokes are likely to go, and also to the rate at which they travel. In the first place, the ball comes off the pitch differently as to pace on different wickets; secondly, it breaks more on some than on others. This is explained in the chapter on Bowling. Here it is sufficient to remark that on slow wickets or dead wickets the ball comes slowly off the pitch, and therefore the commonest mistake on the batsmen's part is to hit too soon—that is, lift the ball—especially in playing forward; whereas mis-strokes behind the wicket are unlikely. Hence on such wickets the extra man, if there is one—that is, the man about whom there is some doubt as to whether he should be put in