Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/301

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279
PUBLIC SCHOOL CRICKET.

weariness of the flesh, and feels that he has only escaped from the frying-pan of school into the fire of cricket. In other words, his cricket is made so serious for him that his enthusiasm is checked.

One axiom should be borne in mind—viz., that while a hitter may be taught defensive play, a merely defensive player will seldom learn how to hit; and hence when a youngster first goes to his "net," he should have a dozen balls pitched up to him, under-hand, with instructions to hit each and every one of them as far as he can, regardless of whether he loses a wicket or not. This will certainly loosen his arms, teach him the real pleasure of a hit, and be admirable fielding practice for the rest of the eleven.

Bowling practice is generally starved, while batting practice is crammed, like the unhappy geese of Strasburg; and to this fact the dearth of amateur bowling may be largely attributed, though an important and not-to-be-forgotten fact is, that any boy who really can bowl is nearly always over-bowled from lack of coadjutors. If boys are to be trained to bowl, they must bowl at the nets as they would bowl in a match—i.e., in overs—instead of sending up a random ball according as it is returned to them by the batsman or the fags. It would be easy to provide four or five balls at each net, and to let each boy deliver his over in turn, under the supervision and instruction of a professional, who would tell him before the delivery of each ball what he should try to do with it—especially, in the case of youngsters, as regards pace, pitch, and direction, disregarding break till the other essentials are acquired. In the intervals of these overs the resting bowler could do a little fielding, and both he and the batsman would be gaining some practical experience of cricket under conditions approximating to those of a regular match. Moreover, it is a mistake to lay aside the small bat, small ball, and short pitch too soon, as for every purpose of the game—batting, bowling, and fielding—they are far superior to the full-sized article until a boy has come to something like fair strength. No boy, even at a public school, should consider it infra dignitatem to use implements which are really adapted to his powers, even though others are using "men's sizes."

Above all things is it important, as far as possible, to group boys according to their skill, and, partly, according to their size. Nothing is so demoralising to small boys who have some pretensions to play real cricket, as to have some big and old boy, strong in the arm, foisted on to their game. Without any cricket-