Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/300

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

promise, he will bring his credentials with him, and will probably find a place in his new school's kindergarten for the aspiring; but if his talent is latent, as is often the case with boys between thirteen and fifteen, he runs a great risk of being overlooked, and relegated to overcrowded house-nets and ill-managed games, in which existing size rules the roast, as compared with budding merit. As will be seen, however, in the accounts from the various public schools, every possible provision and supervision is now almost universally supplied for the youngster who shows the slightest signs of "form," and if he continues to improve with advancing years, his eventual promotion is a certainty, and his final success is dependent on nothing but his natural capacity as supplemented by art.

It may not be out of place here to suggest that "natural capacity" is sometimes cramped by too much stress being laid by instructors on recognised principles. Certain broad rules must certainly be laid down, and inculcated as primary and essential, but there is a growing tendency to stereotype "form," and to condemn every stroke that is not licensed by the definitions, axioms, and postulates of so exact a science as cricket is supposed to be. In other words, a boy's individual powers are forced to be subordinate to his instructor's ideal: he may have a distinct power for playing forward, or for pulling, or for playing back, or for on-driving, or for what not; yet, if he exercises his skill in pulling, say, on a ball which according to scientific theories should be cut, his instructor at once pulls him up for unorthodox cricket, and another W. W. Read may be lost to the world. The case was rather neatly put the other day by the head of a private school, who said, "My boys play capital cricket, but they don't get runs"; and it was a fact: the youngsters played back and played forward, they cut and they drove, they "glanced" and they "glided," generally for no runs, while their less scientific opponents hit straight balls to square-leg, scored "fourers" thereby, and won the match. The personal equation is one that is well worth solving, and it should never be forgotten by the cricket-tutor that the highest score wins the match, and that consequently a little mercy should be shown to the muscular if unscientific "smiter." It might be suggested that there is a tendency to introduce too much of the schoolroom into the cricket-ground, and to scathe a bad stroke as if it were a grievous error in "the comparison of adjectives" or the "irregular verbs," with the result that the budding "W. G." is treated much like the budding senior classic, till he thinks that much cricket is