Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/36

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

accordance with facts. The leading professionals nowadays are for the most part excellent fellows. On the whole, boys benefit by having absolute faith in the teaching of a good coach. For nothing tends to improve a budding cricketer more than a belief in the infallibility of some one or other. Hero-worship is good in cricket. This does not mean that boys should not think for themselves, and try to see the why and wherefore of what their coach tells them. Perhaps they may differ from him in their opinions on some point. If they do, they should tell him what they think, and ask him to show them why he thinks otherwise. If he is a good coach, he will be able to give the reason at once. There are reasons for everything in cricket, and the longer a man plays the more chance he has of perceiving them.

It is admitted on all hands that a tradition of good fielding in a school rarely fails to carry on its good effects from year to year. Certain schools gain a reputation for fielding better than their rivals and contemporaries, and this reputation continues to produce a high degree of proficiency in the field, however weak in batting and bowling power the eleven of a particular year may be. The great thing is to start a tradition, if one does not already exist. This can only be done by keeping the school eleven up to or above the mark for several years, and encouraging the feeling that bad fielding is a thorough disgrace. It is a disgrace. It shows an execrable attitude of mind. A slack, careless fielder needs the stick; he cannot possibly have a right and proper spirit.

Just as one good fielding eleven breeds another, so does one good individual fielder cause improvement in the rest of his side. Nothing promotes good fielding more than the influence of example, and the same may be said of bad fielding. One really enthusiastic fielder may regenerate, one slack loafer may demoralise, a whole eleven. High praise and honour should be given to boys who care to field hard and well. Most of the larger and more important schools are lucky enough to have on their staff of masters prominent all-round athletes from the universities. Such men have merely to take enough trouble, and then they cannot fail to supply the boys with an adequate example of what fielding should be. But, unfortunately, even the universities do not devote proper attention to fielding. Proficiency in this respect is often woefully absent in the case of men who are otherwise excellent cricketers. However, any one, boy or man, with a genuine interest in cricket, decent