Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/93

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
71
BOWLING.

mate to Bobby Peel's style. Never mind his whiskers; watch how he changes his pace and tosses one ball higher than another. Nor should it be forgotten that the power of imitating and adopting the excellences of others varies much in different persons. He who can copy successfully may allow himself a freer hand in this respect. Needless to say, in bowling, as in other arts, there are geniuses who work entirely on their own lines, and who compel success by sheer force. These should be imitated with great caution. While we are on this subject, it may be pointed out that there is virtue in cultivating a puzzling and distracting delivery, provided only we do not lose sight of more solid merits; not, of course, in order to handicap the batsman by the use of unfair means at the time of bowling, but the bowler should try to make his delivery as difficult as possible for the batsman's sight. Nearly all the greatest bowlers have had some distracting peculiarity. At the moment of letting go the ball some bowlers present a full face to the batsman, others deliver it sideways. It is universally acknowledged that the sideways delivery is the more baffling, inasmuch as the batsman loses sight of the hand holding the ball until it comes out over the bowler's body, and consequently he has less time to gauge the latter's intentions. I have often heard batsmen say of eminent bowlers, "Oh, So-and-so is very easy; you can see him all the way;" whereas of others it is remarked, "So-and-so puzzles me; he delivers the ball so curiously that he puts one off."

It stands to reason that a bowler who hides his hand till the very last moment prevents the batsman from seeing as well as he otherwise would do whether a slow or a fast ball, an off-break or a leg-break, is coming. At the same time, there have been some very deceptive bowlers who have presented a full front in delivering the ball. No one could face the batsman more squarely than Dr W. G. Grace does, yet he was without doubt a few years ago the best change bowler in the world, chiefly by reason of the curiously deceptive flight he imparted to the ball. I found this out to my cost in 1895 in my first county match. I was well set when he went on, but he completely beat me with what seemed a simple, straight, good-length ball. Among others, Mr C. T. B. Turner, the Australian bowler, who met with such astonishing success in England, had a similar full-front delivery. Few bowlers have been more deceptive than he. Generally speaking, however, the sideways delivery is far the more difficult to judge. Whether the bowler should try to alter his natural