Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/470

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Cricket is the king of games for players, as it is for spectators who understand the game. For those who do not, I can quite understand their considering it slow and uninteresting.

And now that I have gone through the whole of my career down to the present time and look back to the time I was a young man, I am far from regretting that I have been a cricketer; and he who has never indulged in this noblest of all pastimes, be he prince or peasant, has missed one of the greatest enjoyments of life.

Such is Richard Daft's opinion of cricket; and I think it will be echoed by all who have either taken part in the game or had much to do with it. How cricket compares with sports is another question. There are many fine cricketers who like hunting, shooting, or fishing better than cricket. But no one who has played most of the English games with fair success has really any doubt in his mind that cricket stands by itself as the best of them all. The opinions of men who have risen to a high position in other games, but have failed in cricket, must be accepted with some reservation. There are many men who have played football and cricket equally well; but none of those whom I know has the slightest hesitation in plumping for cricket as the better game of the two.

It is always difficult to analyse a game with a view to finding out why it gives pleasure. Richard Daft seems to me to go to the root of the matter with regard to cricket when he says that it requires of its followers a high degree not only of bodily but of mental skill, and exercises both in a very pleasurable way. But there is something in the game of cricket which cannot be expressed in words—a peculiar charm and fascination. It is as impossible to describe this as it is to describe the pleasure derived from seeing fine trees or fine buildings. All one can say is that the charm of the game consists in an aggregate of pleasant feelings which is greater than that given by any other. And I think the reason must be that cricket calls into play more faculties, and gives them freer play and wider scope, than any other game. This is what a cricketer means when he says there is so much in the game. People who have not played or been closely concerned with cricket have not the faintest conception what there is in it. In a somewhat similar way those who have no acquaintance with music fail to understand what there is in a sonata of Beethoven.

It has sometimes been objected that nearly all the pleasure, derived from cricket is due not so much to the intrinsic merits of the game as to accidents of conditions and surroundings. That bright June sunshine and fine green turf are good settings