Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/293

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
27
A FEW ELEMENTARY POINTS.

ability. It may be useful to state that a man is out leg-before-wicket if the ball hits his leg after pitching between the two wickets—that is, between two parallel straight lines drawn from the outer edges of one set of stumps to the outer edges of the other—and continues its course in such a way that it would have hit the wicket. An umpire must not imagine the subsequent course of the ball. Unless he distinctly sees it break or twist, he should give the man out. As a matter of fact, it is by no means an easy thing to bowl a ball pitching between the wickets so as to hit the stumps. In all cases of leg-before-wicket the umpire should make sure whether or not the ball but for the leg intervening would have hit the wicket; for besides the possibility of passing on either side of the stumps, the ball might have gone over them. So the umpire must take into consideration whether the ball is rising or dropping at the time it hits the leg. It ought not to be necessary to remind all umpires that any case of doubt should be decided in favour of the batsman.

Young umpires do not always understand that the batsman is out if the ball is caught off any part of his hands, but not so off any part of the wrist or arm. It is sometimes very difficult to see exactly what the ball has hit; but if there is any real doubt, the batsman must be given the benefit of it.

Perhaps I shall be pardoned if I mention a rather delicate point. In all probability a young umpire will frequently be called upon to stand as a representative of his own side. Now this does not mean that he ought to umpire in the interests of his own side. He is there as an unbiassed arbiter of Yes and No. He should be neutrality incarnate. If he is worth his salt he will be bubbling over with esprit de corps, but he must put this and its promptings into the background for the time being. He must not fall into the error of making all appeals against his own side cases of doubt in order to be able conscientiously to give his own partisans the benefit; neither, on the other hand, must he persuade himself that doubtful cases are certain when the appeal is in the interests of his comrades. I do not for a moment mean that boys are prone to partiality or unfairness—quite the contrary; but they are rather more liable than older cricketers, whose characters are formed, to be influenced in their decisions by a natural and otherwise very right and proper desire to see their own side win. So I give this little bit of advice to them, in order that they may take steps to wrap themselves up in a cloak of impartiality whenever they are called upon to stand as umpires.