Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/46

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

sympathise with the man who has had no opportunity of learning cricket, and with the man who has done his best to become a cricketer but has failed; but for him who has never cared for the game when he could have played, or has refused to regard it as worth any trouble, what words are adequate? There never was a genuine Englishman but played cricket or wished he did. Something must be very wrong with a boy or with the kind of cricket offered him if he does not care for the game. Decadence is bad enough in Bohemia, but at school—well, how does it get there? It always seems to me that boys require to be educated in cricket on lines rather different from those usually followed. There are many good coaches who teach them excellently and conscientiously the grammar of the game, but entirely fail to imbue them with its true spirit. The mistake is like that of making a lesson in Virgil nothing but a means whereby syntax and grammar may be crammed into the youthful brain. Of course grammar and syntax are necessary as a training for the mind. And the corresponding dry bones of cricket are equally important as a framework round which a knowledge of the game may be built. But would it not be possible to bring home to boys some of the intrinsic beauty of cricket? All good things done well are beautiful. There is much more in a fine off-drive or a well-bowled ball than the resulting fourer or wicket. I am far from regarding cricket as the most important thing in life; but it is the best game, and games are a very valuable part of life. If a boy were taken to a match in which Mr Lionel Palairet was making runs, and were shown the difference between his strokes and those of the more ordinary performers, he would, I think, go home with something in his mind that would tend to improve his cricket and increase his love of it. There is an element of the heroic in cricket which is not found in other games, at least so it strikes me. I can imagine Agamemnon, Achilles, and their peers not unbecomingly engaged in a cricket-match. There is nothing small or mean in the game itself, though it must be confessed that degrading elements are sometimes imported into it by its less high-minded exponents. Boys should try, too, of themselves to find out what there is in cricket besides runs and wickets. There is much indeed. There is a charm that is too subtle to be thought out and expressed, though it can be felt and enjoyed.

But to return to fielding and its difficulties. At school there