Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/86

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were zealously cultivated during ordinary net-practice. The usual thing is to take up the ball in a lazy, careless fashion, without any attention to the length of run, or indeed to any of the requisites of bowling save sending the ball somehow towards the striker's wicket. Sometimes the bowler takes upon himself to demonstrate the peculiarities in the styles of various great bowlers in a manner which does infinite credit to his imagination but none at all to his power of imitation. Such useless mimicry is worse than profitless. A young amateur who has the interests of cricket at heart should do his best to make himself as good a bowler as he can, especially if he has some natural gift for it. Amateur cricket can only hold its own if the Gentlemen continue to prove themselves capable of meeting the Players on equal terms in the great annual matches. At present they can do so. But they can only muster just enough bowling talent for one team. When a bowler chosen to play for the Gentlemen cannot accept the invitation, it is generally very difificult to fill his place. With the Players the difficulty is to know whom not to include. They number among themselves enough good bowlers to furnish half-a-dozen elevens. High-class cricket nowadays is in danger of passing altogether into the hands of the professionals. Such a result would, in my judgment, be as bad for the game as if the reverse were to happen. Facts show that the majority of elevens composed entirely or even principally of professionals do not succeed. Judicious blends work much better. There is no doubt that, if the high standard of what may be called "sportsmanship" is to be maintained, amateurs must continue to form a fair proportion of the entire body of first-class cricketers. But they can only do this by continuing to justify by their skill their inclusion in first-class elevens.

It is easy to see how the professional becomes a good bowler. He probably begins by showing promise as a lad of fifteen or sixteen in small club matches. Then, led either by his fondness for the game or because he sees a pleasant way of getting his living, he becomes ground-bowler at seventeen or eighteen to some better class club, or perhaps gets a situation as a "general utility" on some county ground. After bowling two or three years in club practice and matches, he may secure a berth as practice-bowler on a county ground. There he is sure to have plenty of bowling at all kinds of bats. He comes across good cricketers, watches their methods, and improves his own. Perhaps in two years he makes his mark in a Colts' match and attracts attention. Next year he may, if he is lucky, get a trial for the