Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/91

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69
BOWLING.

now almost universal; so mere pace and attempts at break are rendered more or less harmless. But the bowler who can keep up his length is sure to have his reward sooner or later.

Several different things are implied in the expression "good length." It may mean that the ball is so pitched that the batsman cannot score off it easily though he see it and judge it well; if he tries to score, he must play a forcing stroke, which involves a certain amount of risk. It may mean, again, that he can only partially see and judge the ball, and is liable to hesitate whether to play back or forward; in other words, he may be caught in two minds. Once more, it may mean that the ball lights upon that indescribable place called "the blind spot," when he loses sight of it altogether, and has nothing save good luck to help him to play it. So, then, there are three degrees of good length, of which, from the bowler's point of view, the last is the best.

Again, the same ball may be good length for one batsman, but not for another. Batsmen vary greatly as to their "reach"—that is, the distance they can safely play forward or advance the bat in making a drive. What is a half-volley to Gunn may be a good-length ball to Abel. A bowler must bear this in mind when trying to get a good length. Indeed the question of length is very subtle, and demands much study and thought. The great thing is to acquire by constant practice the mechanical power of pitching the ball on any spot whatever. This, of course, implies a nicety in judgment of distance, and, what we have called before, a close co-operation between hand and eye. The bowler may rest assured that, when he has acquired the art of bowling good-length balls, even mechanically, he has practically laid the foundation of an excellent style. Nothing in bowling is so difficult as to keep the pitch of one's deliveries at the uniform good length calculated to wear out the patience of most batsmen, particularly young ones. "Non vi sed saepe cadendo" is the bowler's motto, and let me add that the requisite degree of skill comes only by the sweat of the brow.

he next desideratum is so to vary the pitch of good-length balls that the good length itself is not spoiled. The object is to be able, within the limits of good length, to drop the ball where one likes, and the difficulty is to get such a complete command over the ball that, in attempting this variation, loose or bad-length balls do not result. Granted, for example, that, for a fast bowler, any ball pitched within from 7 to 5 yards from the striker's wicket is good length, the bowler has a margin of 2 yards within which