Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/31

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9
FIELDING.

but almost certainly there are at least twelve fielders who would not disgrace the champion county of the year.

As to the importance of good fielding, it is easy to prove it. Each catch that is missed simply adds another batsman to the opposing side. If five catches are dropped, the side that drops them has to all intents and purposes fifteen men to dispose of instead of ten; and each man who thus receives a second innings starts with the advantage of having more or less got used to the light and the state of the wicket. Again, let us suppose that each man on a side gives away in each innings 3 runs which he might have saved by a little more dash and alertness. Not only has the opposite side 33 more runs added to its score without the trouble of making them by its own efforts, but the side which gave the runs away has 33 more runs to get than it need have had, and consequently has given itself so much the greater chance of meeting with bad luck. A run saved is more than a run gained; it is a run that need not be got. Runs vary in value. It is far more than three times harder for a side to get 150 runs than it is to get 50. It is far easier for an individual to save 20 runs by good fielding than to make 20 by good batting. In a particular match the best batsman in the world may twice fail to score. Suppose he is a bad fielder, and gives away, as he may well do if fielding in the country, 25 runs each innings. Not only has he made no runs himself, but he has burdened the rest of his side with the necessity of making 50 runs more than they would otherwise have required. He has practically deducted 50 runs from the score of his side. Let us imagine that, but for his bad fielding, there would have been only 100 runs to get to win. As it is, there are 150. Clearly, as far as concerns him, 50 runs must be scored before one is counted. In a true sense, the strength of a fielding side must be measured by its weakest member, as that of a chain is measured by its weakest link. Then, again, when there is a really bad fielder on a side, more balls seem to go to him than to any one else. Put him where you will, he seems to attract the ball. If there is a catch to be caught that would win the match, it seems always to seek the hands of the weaker brother. If he misses it, the efforts of his side are all rendered futile. Mistakes cannot always be avoided, but with proper measures taken their frequency may be astonishingly diminished.

Good fielding is as helpful as bad fielding is noxious. To a certain extent it turns bad bowling into good, and makes good bowling better. Backed by strong ground-fielding and sure catch-