Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/291

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269
A FEW ELEMENTARY POINTS.

in deciding it. When, however, he simply hears a sound without noticing precisely how near the ball was to the bat in passing it, he is liable to be rather at a loss. In these circumstances he ought to be very careful as to his decision. I myself have seen many very bad decisions given by umpires who either had not been paying-full attention to the course of the ball, or were prevented, perhaps through no fault of their own, from watching it closely. In cases like these the decision very often goes against the batsman because the umpire has heard some extraneous noise which he does not take the trouble to locate—especially if he is assaulted by a loud and unanimous appeal. It is an unfortunate fact that there is a growing tendency in first-class cricket to make unnecessary, and therefore unsportsman-like, appeals. When the umpire has nothing but the sound to guide him the case is very often doubtful, and whenever this is so, a decision in favour of the batsman ought to be given. The sense of hearing is often at fault, so too much faith must not be placed in it. The batsman may be using—rather foolishly, perhaps—a bat with a creaky handle. Most bats with very supple handles are liable to make a slight creaking sound when suddenly bent in the making of a quick stroke. Or a deceptive noise may be made by the wicket-keeper's gloves. Stumpers nowadays are, rather to the disgust of fieldsmen and bowlers, in the habit of putting a lot of sticky substance upon their gloves. When,, after placing their hands together, they open them to receive the ball, one often hears a sound not unlike that resulting from the contact of bat and ball. So an umpire ought to be very careful in judging by sound alone. On the other hand, when he sees the ball deviate from its original course precisely at the moment when it passes the bat, he may be fairly certain, in fact quite certain, that the batsman has touched the ball. Catches at the wicket are rather an intricate subject. An appeal for one often catches the umpire unawares. Nothing but the closest attention to what is happening can save him from this.

In cases of stumping there is usually not much difficulty—that is, unless the umpire has gone to sleep or is looking in an opposite direction. The square-leg umpire is often by way of taking a little rest, consequently he is sometimes caught napping. But most cases of stumping are fairly simple. At times the popping-creases become worn out, so that the edges are not very distinct. Little white streaks multiply round the original crease and make a blur that may deceive the umpire. He should therefore be careful always to know exactly where the crease begins and ends. When-