Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/71

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49
THIRD-MAN.

his distance from the wicket, his chief guide must be his own idea of the distance at which he can prevent one run.

He must at all times be cool and collected. A few stolen runs must not upset him. And as he has at best no time to spare if he is to prevent singles, he must cultivate a very quick, accurate return both to the bowler and the wicket-keeper. The ball should fly low and straight from his hand to the top of the stumps full-pitch. Gunn, Maurice Read, and Mr G. Mordaunt send in beautiful returns from third-man. They throw just below the level of the shoulder, which is the most rapid manner. The ball flies like an arrow. There is little doubt that this kind of throw is the best for returning the ball from any position in the near-field. Some men use it with equal effect in returning the ball from the long-field. It is worth while mentioning incidentally that the number of good throwers is exceedingly small. Cricketers simply do not take the trouble to make themselves efficient. The superiority in this respect of the Australians over our own fielders has generally been very marked. In the final test-match at the Oval in 1896 the visiting side was, without doubt, a good deal better in the field than the England Eleven, and every man of them could throw as strongly as a catapult.

Third-man must be always on his toes, like a sprinter about to start for a race. He must be ready to dash forwards or to either side instantaneously. He will do well to stand leaning well forward, with his hands rather near the ground, as most balls will come to him either along the ground or as rather low catches. He must cultivate certainty in catching, and remember that the ball is always spinning hard when it comes to him. Nine times out of ten, when a short run is attempted from a hit towards third-man, the best end to return the ball to is the bowler's, who ought to be ready behind his wicket. The nonstriker has so much time to back-up that he is nearly sure to be in. In the case of an almost certain run-out at either end, the ball should be sent to the wicket-keeper, who is more likely to take the ball well than the bowler. The great thing is to make up your mind, as the ball is coming, to which end you are going to throw, and to do so without any hesitation. Sometimes the ball is so picked up that it can be returned rapidly to one end only. The fielder must of course be guided by circumstances.

Third-man has to back-up point when the ball is cut rather square, and to back up the wicket-keeper when the ball is returned from anywhere on the on-side. It is a difficult position, and requires much attention. A captain should take care to