Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/34

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nearly so well as they ought. There are some individual fine fielders in most of them, but it is fine fielding all through a team that is so desirable, so possible of attainment, and yet so rare. Perhaps Yorkshire of late years has shown the best fielding in county fixtures. On the whole, the northern counties field better than the southern—probably because the spectators in the northern towns are such remorseless critics of anything like slovenliness in the field. They come not only to cheer but to jeer, and they do both with a will.

It is surprising that the famous nurseries of amateur cricketers, the great English Public Schools, with all their advantages, so rarely produce fielders of more than average ability. In order to show that boys can be taught to take a zealous interest in this department of the game, and be brought to a high state of proficiency without professional aid or good coaching, I may refer to the school at which I myself was educated. It is difficult to see why our fielding at the Raj Kumar College should have been so far superior to the batting and bowling, unless it was due to the prevailing idea there that fielding was just as important as batting or bowling, and to the fact that a high degree of skill is most easily attained in fielding. I am quite sure that the fielding of this school from the years 1882 to 1888 was superior to that of an average English public school eleven. Yet there was no one to teach us much, and no fine fielders to excite in us a desire to excel. Perhaps one reason was that we had no net practice. Whenever we played, it was in a game. Very often there were fifteen boys on each side; so if the fielding side wanted an innings the same day, they had to hold every catch and save all the runs they could. Still it seems to me that we had a higher ideal of fielding than most English schools. Anyhow, fielding in school, university, and county matches could be improved enormously by the expenditure of a little more trouble. And the trouble would be amply repaid. Even from the point of view of personal pleasure, it is worth while to cultivate an interest in fielding, and to take pains to become good at it. What a man can do well, he likes doing. Batting and bowling occasionally cause a cricketer some disappointment. Fielding is a certainty. Once make yourself a good field, once learn to take a pleasure in fielding for its own sake, and every match must provide you with plenty of enjoyment, whether or not you get runs or wickets. If people would only recognise the importance of fielding, the standard would soon be raised all round. The truth is, that fielding can be scamped to a certain