Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/87

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County Eleven. At any rate, before taking his place in first-class cricket, he has gone through an apprenticeship, and no light one, of about seven years. And during all this time he has had to bowl for his livelihood. An amateur bowler never goes through these early years of toil and trouble. He cultivates his bowling talents for his own amusement, and more often than not in a rather dilettante manner. The fault in his education is the want of a sound grounding. He is handicapped later on in building up his bowling by the fact that he has not gone through the indispensable drudgery early in his cricket career.

Let us see, then, how the would-be bowler should set about his task. The first point to notice is, that there is a right and a wrong way of holding the ball. Good bowlers grip the ball as much as possible with their fingers—that is to say, they use the fingers and not the palm of the hand to work the ball.

And now for a short digression—a few words as to the pernicious practice of allowing boys to bowl with full-sized balls. A regulation match-ball is just as much out of proportion in a small hand as an Atlantic liner would be in the river Cam. Why do not the cricketing authorities in the various schools, especially preparatory schools, recommend the use of balls of different sizes so graduated as to suit boys of different ages? Similarly, there should be, according to the strength of the boys, a variation in the distance between the wickets. Fancy a small lad, aged twelve, bowling with the same ball and at the same distance as Mold or Richardson! What can be more absurd? Some writers whose opinions deserve consideration do not think it advisable to shorten the distance between the wickets. My own opinion is, that the distance of 22 yards is fit only for grown-up men, and that younger frames cannot bear the strain of continually propelling the ball that distance. There are three great difficulties with which young boys have to cope—the regulation size of the ball, the full distance between the wickets, and the full size of the bat. Some attempt has been made to provide them with bats of a size that suits them, but, unfortunately, most small-sized bats are made of inferior wood and are badly shaped. All implements and conditions of the game should in every case be proportioned to the players. Surely the reasonableness of this contention is self-evident. Only too often, as it is, the burden of the young player is more than he can bear. If more sensible arrangements were made,