Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/40

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that the action of picking up seems to be part of the subsequent action of throwing, and they throw the ball in without any preliminary hesitation. A wicket-keeper was once remonstrating with a fielder for not having run a man out. "Why, I threw it in like a book," retorted the latter. "Yes, you did," was the reply; "but the preface and introduction were too long."

Really smart throwers are very uncommon. The value of a run-out is sometimes incalculable. If fielders took these two facts to mind, and acted accordingly, runs would be harder to get than ever. It requires long and earnest practice to get the knack of a quick return, and quickness is of no use without accuracy. The great thing, after all, is to throw in such a manner that the man at the wicket can take the ball easily and near the stumps. The three things to avoid are sending it in as a "yorker" or a half-volley, or what one may call a "good-length" ball—that is, difficult for the recipient to see and judge it. A return should come to the man at the wicket either on the longhop or full-pitch, and about a foot above the bails. Fielders near the wicket should return the ball full-pitch. Long-fielders should aim at making the ball arrive first bound, and longhop at its destination. With regard to throwing in from the country, the great fault is to throw the ball too high in the air. Clearly the lower its trajectory, the sooner will it reach the wicket. There is an exact height at which the ball should travel in order to combine rapidity in flight with accuracy of length. One reason why the throw-in requires so much practice is, that unless the muscles used be drilled to the point of mechanical accuracy—that is, till they almost act of themselves—the thrower has to stop to think what he is going to do, and thus loses time. A really good returner does not waste time in thinking what he is going to do or which wicket he had better aim at. All that is done while the ball is coming to him. His action in picking it up and throwing it in conforms to what he has already judged to be the best and quickest way of returning it. Sometimes the stroke and return are so quick that a spectator has scarcely time to perceive what has happened.

Having thus learnt to stop the ball clean and return it quickly and accurately, a fieldsman should also learn to dash in to meet the ball, thus saving the time it would have taken to reach him if he had stayed where he was. The slower the ball is travelling, the more needful for him to run in to meet it. He should be continually on his toes, ready to start forwards or indeed in any direction. After a certain amount of practice he can pick up