Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/367

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345
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY CRICKET.

in Freshmen's matches, for the captain to go in last, as being likely to stay while some hitherto unknown and unsuspected batsman piles up runs.

The fixtures of the season at Cambridge are generally started with teams captained by the old hard-hitting Cantab,. C. I. Thornton, and by A. J. Webbe, of Oxford and Middlesex renown. The M.C.C. pays an annual visit, as do several of the first-class counties, so that ample opportunities occur for trial at Cambridge, to say nothing of the matches played at other places when the vacation has commenced, terminating with the M.C.C. match at Lord's precisely one week before the 'Varsity match itself If the Freshman—or senior, for that matter—has been properly tried and has come well through the ordeal, he may fairly hope that a week or two before term is over the captain will say to him, "You may order your 'blue,' old fellow," and a large cloud of anxiety will be dispelled. It is only in exceptional cases that the award is made early in term, and some captains like to leave the promotions to the very last moment, under the idea that as long as any uncertainty exists, so long will the candidate get the last ounce out of himself in the hope of reaping his reward. Other captains hold that anxiety and suspense are a bad thing for a candidate's cricket, and that it is better to put him out of his misery and give him his place in the eleven as soon as it is practically assured. Needless to say, if a real loss of form occurs before the great match, such promotion is held to be null and void, and the "blue" is resigned. Even in the case of an old "blue," the resignation is always placed in the captain's hands by the man who feels that he is not up to the mark: it would be a grievous breach of etiquette on his, not the captain's part, had he to be asked to stand out of the team.

The supreme joy is still left, the joy of a triumph at Lord's. No man who has not been through the burning fiery furnace of a '"Varsity match can understand the anxiety, often more physical than mental, of a young man's début in that game. One "fourer"—and all the anxiety is over; a big score—and a sensation supervenes, as one walks from the wickets, which only those who have succeeded in the presence of thousands can understand. There are also the infinite possibilities of the future,—the prospect of playing for one's county or for the Gentlemen, to say nothing of what is even more precious nowadays, an early admission into the M.C.C. "as a cricketer."

It will be seen from what has preceded that the "blue," or prospective "blue," is so much occupied with University cricket