Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/58

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it is so hard to realise their difficulty; the hits from which they are taken are such little ones. His comrades, too, are often very hard on him, for they do not understand the arduous nature of his task unless they have had a turn at it themselves. All this must be patiently endured. He may console himself by remembering that admirals, generals, and prime ministers receive the same treatment, so do coxswains and engine-drivers. Further, he may rely with certainty on the sympathy and applause of all who really know anything about the game.

The wicket-keeper's chief duties are as follows, in the order of their importance: —

  1. To hold catches at the wicket.
  2. To stump batsmen who miss the ball and are over the crease.
  3. To run batsmen out when the ball is returned from the fielders.
  4. To prevent byes.
  5. To run after the ball when it is so played that the wicket-keeper and he alone can save a run.

Now the first three duties are far more important than the other two, and a wicket-keeper will be wise to get it well into his head that he must make sure of carrying them out at all costs. He should not allow a desire to perform the other two make him one bit less efficient in carrying out the first three. This warning is especially necessary, because the modern tendency is to praise or blame wicket-keeping mainly according to the number of byes on the score-sheet. The daily newspapers are largely responsible for this. One scarcely ever reads a criticism of a wicket-keeper which does more than mention the small or large number of byes he has let. Now it is no doubt an excellent thing to let no byes during a long innings, but it is far more excellent not to miss chances of getting men out. Unfortunately, under the influence of a widespread misconception as to the true criterion of good wicket-keeping, many wicket-keepers put before themselves as almost their sole object the preventing of all byes. They sacrifice all else to this, and consequently are always jumping about to stop balls to leg or on the off. instead of concentrating their attention upon taking the ball cleanly and surely near the wicket. A moment's thought will show that it is just possible for a wicket-keeper to let no byes during an entire season, and yet not take a single ball properly or even hold it at all. As a matter of fact, even a moderate wicket-keeper lets