Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/303

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
281
PUBLIC SCHOOL CRICKET.

well. In games, as well as at the nets, such coaching should go on, the umpire being the Mentor. Many boy-bowlers do not know, because they have never been told, such elementary facts as that a ball sent faster than usual a foot outside the off-stump, without any break, is very likely to trap a fine off-hitter who has been punishing slower balls on that side: short-slip or wicket-keeper will often get a chance. He does not realise that a ball with a higher curve, but a shorter length, looks exactly like the half-volley which has been hit three times running to the boundary; yet it does look like it, and many a man has fallen to it. Nor does a boy who has been taught, most properly, to "feed him up on the off-side," reflect that it is no good trying this dodge to a bad batsman, who goes on missing the ball. These are just samples of the "tips" the old hand could give the youngster, if he was there at his elbow for the purpose, while the batsman can safely be left to the care of some one behind the net. In such a chapter as this it is almost stereotyped to say a word about over-bowling, but so great and so dangerous is this tendency that it cannot be passed over in silence. It is largely due to the paucity of bowlers, so that in their multiplication and improvement lies the best of all remedies. As it is, in most lower games at least, there is generally one useful youngster who is allowed to pound away by the hour, day after day, till after a few weeks it is discovered that he no longer gets wickets, that he has lost the reputation with which he came from his private school—doubtless overbowled there too—and is, generally, a snare and a delusion. It may sound grandmotherly to say so, but a rest for a few overs—two would be enough every half-hour, would in the end get a great deal more success out of the average boy-bowler of thirteen to fifteen: after that age he will be stronger and better "set," and consequently capable of harder work.

Another excellent institution, which is by no means universal, is a series of regular matches with foreign teams for second elevens. Not only do such matches afford excellent training and practice, but they do a great deal to remove the "funk" which many men, and most boys, feel when they first find themselves confronted with a strange bowler or batsman—for there is bowler's "funk" as well as batsman's "funk."

With these prefatory remarks may be introduced a more or less detailed account of each school and its ways, its grounds and its methods. No pains has been spared to make each as accurate as possible, but the lists of prominent cricketers appended to each