Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/29

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Fielding is a department of the game much neglected at the Public Schools, more at the Universities, and more still in county cricket. As for ordinary club matches, fielding is regarded as a necessary evil which must be tolerated, because without it batting and bowling are impossible. And yet for winning matches, fielding is not a jot less important than batting and bowling. Curiously enough, few cricketers guide their conduct by this fact, though no one with even an elementary knowledge of the game would think of disputing it. Times without number during the cricket season one hears it remarked that such-and-such a match was lost owing to bad ground-fielding or uncertain catching, or slovenly fielding in general, or because in the selection of the eleven insufficient attention was paid to the fielding ability of the candidates for places. And it is as a mild protest against the common and mistaken policy of giving undue prominence to the two more showy branches of the game that fielding holds the place of honour in this volume. Not that it is of much use protesting. Cricketers, being human, are not over-ready to do what is irksome or distasteful, even where they recognise that it is for their own good and that of others. Perhaps one of the reasons why fielding is neglected is, that its results are all but disregarded on the score-sheet and in other records of matches. It is different with bowlers and batsmen. They see their successes fully notified. A glance at the score is enough to discover who made runs and who got wickets. The figures speak for themselves, and eloquently. But there is nothing to indicate how many runs were saved by fine ground-fielding, or how many catches were badly muffed.