Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/35

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13
FIELDING.

point without retribution falling upon the sinner. From every point of view it is a pity that a higher standard is not somehow established and exacted.

Before taking the various parts of fielding in detail, it may be well to say just a few words about the system of cricket management in English schools. At nearly all the larger schools it is nominally in the hands of the boys. The head-master, of course, reserves to himself the right of interfering in any way he may think proper. In most cases, however, the moving force in the school cricket is either one of the assistant masters or an old boy who takes interest in his former school, or the professional engaged as bowler and coach. The authority and influence of the adviser, whether amateur or professional, depend almost entirely upon his achievements, his reputation, or his personality in general. That boys require an adviser is obvious, for no schoolboy can in the nature of things be a really good judge of cricket or know much about the game. And usually those boys who know most understand best that without an experience more extensive than their own it is impossible to be a good judge of cricket. Perhaps a combination of amateur and professional coaching is the best. Most of the best coaches have been amateurs, for the simple reason that amateurs are usually better educated than professionals. The teaching of cricket requires an educated mind. In cricket, as in other things, it is necessary to observe and reflect upon one's observations. There are many good bats, bowlers, and fielders, but very few of them can explain how they bat, bowl, or field, and fewer still can teach another what they can do themselves. The essential qualification of a good coach is a sound knowledge of the game, and there is no reason why a very moderate player should not make a very competent coach, except that a poor player is unlikely to have had much experience of cricket—real cricket as it should be played. But it is impossible for an amateur coach to be always on the ground, if indeed he is available in the first instance. So the professional can by no means be dispensed with. The professional is always on the spot, and should be able to give necessary instructions in the various branches of the game. The superintendence of the amateur gives the boys an incentive to work with zeal and ardour, and prevents humbug or loafing. Some people are afraid to give the professional too much power, no matter how good a coach he may be. They mistrust his influence from an educational and social point of view. Such ideas, however, are not in