Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/90

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change of pace. Still, on the principle of doing one thing at a time, it is admissible in practice, especially at first, to concentrate the attention upon each requirement separately. He ought to do the one, but not leave the others undone.

Let us now review the several heads touched upon above, examining what difficulties they present and the best way to surmount them.

About bowling straight, perhaps enough has been said. There is no great difficulty here. One can soon learn to be fairly accurate as to direction. What is not quite so easily gained is the power of bowling straight at will, which implies a complete command of direction and the power of keeping on without becoming fatigued. Practice and hard work, however, will enable the bowler to do both, provided he be moderately strong and healthy. "Keeping on" is largely a matter of muscular development, and is acquired incidentally in the process of practising with a view to "command of direction." In the initial stages a good plan is to bowl a certain length of time each day, and to increase this gradually. When a bowler can continue for an hour on end without flagging, he need have no fear of being done up in a match. Care must be taken, however, that the practice spells be not lengthened too suddenly. The wise course is to practise a little every day until the required strength and endurance for a long effort is acquired. It is very noticeable that many really fine amateur bowlers cannot in matches maintain their best form for more than three-quarters of an hour or so. For that period they bowl admirably—as well, in fact, as any professional; but afterwards they fall off, and their deliveries lose sting, length, and every other desirable quality. Nearly all professionals, on the other hand, can keep pegging away for the greater part of a day without appreciably deteriorating. The reason is, that the professional has gone through an apprenticeship of hard grind, the amateur has not. There is no royal road to success Though none can become first-rate bowlers unless they have a certain inborn capacity, neither can those who have this capacity reach the top of the tree without assiduous practice and unflagging perseverance.

After having learnt to bowl straight, and having cultivated some stamina, the bowler must learn the next and perhaps the most important secret of his art—the acquisition of a perfect command of length. Enough has been said to indicate that "good length" is the keystone of bowling. The soundness of the whole fabric depends upon it. Good wickets, as already pointed out, are