Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/60

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very few byes if the bowling is fairly accurate. It is erratic bowling that is chiefly responsible for byes; and byes should in most cases be regarded as the bowler's fault, not the wicket-keeper's. The sooner a wicket-keeper realises that he is what he is and not a long-stop, the better for his side.

In order to hold catches and effect stumpings and runnings-out, a wicket-keeper must learn to take the ball, as we have said, cleanly and surely, and this as near the wicket as possible, standing so close that he can knock off the bails with ease, and so that the angle of deviation of a ball touched by the bat is as small as possible. The farther his hands are from the bat, the more will the ball have deviated from its original course. In the case of run-outs his position must be altered; he must now stand on the opposite side of the wicket from the point whence the ball is being returned. But the alteration should be completed before the ball comes. It is essential to stand quite still in taking the ball. Unless the feet are steady and fixed, the eye cannot follow it accurately. Any flinching, fidgeting, or jumping about is fatal. To learn to stand still is by no means easy, but it is absolutely necessary.

Next, he must learn to let the ball come into his hands as into an Aunt Sally's mouth. It is entirely wrong to grab or snap at it. This snapping is perhaps the commonest fault among wicket-keepers, and it is a very grave one. It may easily cause the ball to bound out of the hand. The hand is less likely to be in the right place. The fingers are likely to close too soon, which may result in injuries. The cleaner the ball is taken, the less is the jar. As in all fielding, the hands should "give" to the ball as it enters them, for it is more likely to stay where it is when the resistance is not dead. Moreover, the slight "give" saves the hands. When the bowling is slow or medium, the "give" need be only infinitesimal. This is important to remember, because off such bowling chances of stumping are common, and the ball must be taken very near the wicket to ensure a quick removal of the bails. It should be taken and slipped into the wicket in one uniform action. There should be no jerk back and forwards. In the case of fast bowling catches are frequent and stumpings rare, so the hands may be allowed more "give." Notice that, whenever a jump to this side or that is necessary, it should be done in good time, so that the body may be again still and quiet behind the hands when the ball comes into them.