The Jubilee Book of Cricket/Chapter 3
Bowling is an art, or rather it is an art to bowl well; and in a true sense, as all writers on the subject have agreed, it is an art that cannot be taught. "The art of bowling," says Mr Kempson, "is an incommunicable natural gift which can be perfected to almost any degree by practice." And this definition, though scarcely scientific, hits the nail on the head. Without a certain natural talent no one can be made into a bowler. Not that those who lack great capacity need despair of learning to bowl with ordinary skill and average success; but they will never reach a high standard, never become great bowlers. Everybody by perseverance and energy can obtain a certain command over the ball, and up to a certain point become a bowler. An experienced eye can detect in a very short time whether or not a young cricketer has the innate "something" that will enable him to make a name for himself as a bowler. However, without becoming famous, it is possible to become very useful. As much attention should be paid to bowling as to any other part of the game. Whether or not you have it in you to develop into a Peel or an Attewell is immaterial; your duty is to make yourself as good a bowler as you can.
Nothing is more noticeable in first-class cricket of the present day than the difference in quality between professional and amateur bowling. Practically all bowling in county matches is done by professionals, and the average professional is much superior to the average amateur bowler.
In batting there is no such disparity; in fact, the amateurs can quite if not more than hold their own, and for this reason: both at the public schools and at the universities far more time and attention are devoted to batting than to bowling. Nor is this surprising, since the process of learning to bat is far more attractive than that of learning to bowl. There is drudgery in both for those who mean to succeed, but moments of pleasure cannot fail to relieve the batsman's early labours, whereas the bowler must be content "to scorn delights and live laborious days." The mere handling of a bat gives the crudest player a certain satisfaction, which can be transformed into positive enjoyment by a few well-timed strokes, however accidental.
The pleasures of bowling do not he so near the surface, and indeed can be fully appreciated only by the finished artist. Many boys who might grow into fine bowlers give up trying to become bowlers at all; they find the earlier stages of the art dull and toilsome, while the result at which they are aiming seems far away. In the same manner, many young pianists give up music from disgust at the weary work of scales and exercises; they are unwilling to endure the preliminary labour in order to arrive at the ultimate profit; they would like to be able to play well, but do not consider the game worth the candle.
It is a great pity to give up trying to learn to bowl merely because the art cannot be acquired very quickly or easily. In matches most people are only too ready to accept an invitation to bowl, but few care to qualify themselves for the task they are so eager to undertake. They like bowling as a relief from the monotony of fielding, not for its own sake. It is curious that people do not reflect more seriously upon the fact that the best batsman sometimes receives only two balls in a match and hits neither of them, whereas a good bowler can nearly always rely upon at least half an hour's fun. Indeed, any bowler who is put on at all cannot be ousted from his proud position until he has sent down a full over. He has at least five balls wherewith to achieve some measure of success, and each of them is bound to provide some pleasure, if only that of anticipation. So, even from a selfish point of view, it is advisable to learn to bowl.
The right and proper thing would be for all cricketers to pay equal attention to bowling, batting, and fielding, especially in their young days. All are equally essential parts of the game. Why not regard them as equally valuable? The doctrine of the division of labour holds good in cricket as elsewhere, but every cricketer should, as far as lies in him, qualify himself for every emergency. Most amateurs take no trouble whatever with their bowling, except in matches. It would be far better if bowling 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 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, we should hear less nonsense about schoolboys being overworked at cricket. Any deterioration of boys in batting or bowling, but particularly in the latter, is almost invariably put down to overwork at school, but the people who express such opinions do not suggest any corrective methods, nor do they in any way attempt to lighten the burden of the youngsters.
To return from this digression to the first principles of bowling. After understanding how the ball should be held, the next thing to learn is to bowl straight. This is not difficult—it is a mere matter of practice. It does not simply mean the power of hitting an unguarded wicket nearly every time; it means being able to bowl the ball in the exact direction desired, so that it can at will be made to pass the wicket 2 feet or 2 inches to the off, to hit the middle or the leg-stump. In fact, what is required is a complete mastery of direction. The line from wicket to wicket is a good guide for the beginner; still he should acquire not only the power of bowling mechanically along one particular line, but that of bowling along any line whatsoever.
Thirdly, and above all, it is necessary to bowl a "good length." What, then, is a "good-length" ball? To begin with, it is not the same for all kinds of bowling. Let us deal with the question practically. There are three distinct paces recognised in bowling—fast, medium, and slow. For a fast bowler a ball that pitches on a spot within from 5 to 7 yards from the batsman's wicket is "good-length"; for medium-pace the spot lies between 4 and 5 yards; for slow between 3 and 4 yards. Notice that the faster the bowling, the wider is the margin of "good-length." Of course the above estimate is rather rough. Later on it will be explained and refined upon. It is sufficient here to say that the secret of success in bowling lies in the power of commanding and maintaining a good-length. Consequently it is essential for the young cricketer to acquire proficiency in this respect. The pitches nowadays are so perfect that, unless they are spoiled by rain or the wear and tear of several long inningses, the bowler has to depend upon "good-length" more than anything else in order to get the batsmen out.
Again, a bowler must learn to vary his pitch—that is, he must be able to apply his command of direction and length. For instance, supposing he has bowled a good-length straight ball on the wicket, let the next one be 6 inches wider towards the off-side. Again, he may pitch the ball a good-length but rather wider still. Or if he be a fast bowler, he may put in first a ball pitching on a spot 7 yards from the striker's wicket, but outside the wicket on the off, and then one at 5 or 5½ yards either in the same line or upon the wicket. The power of thus varying his pitch with dexterity is well worth cultivating.
Next we come to a more subtle point. Before a bowler is fully equipped, he must have learnt the art of changing his pace. Thanks to the excellence of present-day wickets, sheer pace and even mechanical accuracy are often futile. Hence the power of deceiving the batsman in the pace of the ball contributes towards success. Suppose our bowler belongs to the "medium" class, how ought he to proceed to vary his pace?
A medium-pace bowler, as he has two directions in which to vary, can make more changes in his deliveries than either the fast or the slow; at least, in my short experience I have found this to be the case. Change of pace means bowling occasionally either slower or faster than the pace usually employed. The methods and objects of this device will be treated more fully later on. Here it is sufficient to remark that the bowler, in putting the theory into practice in actual games, will have to depend upon his own discretion and be guided by the result of his own observations.
Finally, there is the "break" to be mastered—that is to say, the bowler must learn to manipulate and deliver the ball in such a way that, after pitching, it deviates from its original line of flight. It may break either from right to left or vice versa. Very few bowlers can command both breaks. Those who can are very useful to a side. When the ball deviates from right to left, it is said to break from leg; when from left to right, to break from the off. Both breaks are produced by the manner in which the ball is held and caused to spin by finger-and-wrist work at the moment of delivery. It is customary, in speaking of "break," to regard all batsmen and all bowlers as right-handed. From a left-hand batsman's point of view what is called off-break is really leg-break. Further, when a left-hand bowler puts on off-break—that is, causes the ball to deviate from his left to his right after pitching—he uses the same sort of finger-work as the right-hand bowler does in putting on leg-break.
For the sake of clearness the various elements of good bowling have been enumerated one by one. But of course, in practising, a bowler may keep all of them in mind at once when he delivers the ball. He must remember that in a match the best ball he can bowl is, perhaps, one that combines good length, break, and 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 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 to ring his changes. If he were to continue pitching every ball exactly 7 yards from the wicket, the batsman would have no difficulties, for the same stroke would meet and dispose of every ball. He must try, then, to unsettle the batsman by pitching one ball at 7 yards, another at 6, another at 6½, another at 5, and so on. This variation of pitch may, and that very effectively, be combined with variation of direction One ball may be on the off-stump, another on the middle, another six inches outside the off-stump. Here the limits are the leg-stump on the one side and the batsman's reach on the other—that is, it is a mistake to bowl to leg or to bowl wides. Mutatis mutandis, these remarks apply also to medium and slow bowling. But remember that the slower the bowHng, the smaller is the space within which balls are good length. Difference of pace, however, does not affect the margin within which direction may be varied. A consummate command of both pitch and direction implies a very high degree of bowling skill.
We now come to the consideration of change of pace. This art, in its perfection, belongs only to the master-hand. It consists in diminishing or increasing the usual pace of the ball without allowing the batsman to perceive the change. The power to do this successfully is by no means easily acquired.
But first let me say a few words about delivery. By delivery is meant not only the attitude adopted by the bowler at the moment that the ball is despatched but all his action from the moment that he starts for his run. Let him take a convenient run such as he has found to be suitable to his methods. A long run seems to be the more generally successful. For as the batsman has to wait some time before the ball is actually despatched, many thoughts may pass through his mind tending to distract his attention, and his sight becomes wearied by the strain of watching. With few exceptions, the best bowlers of the present day adopt the long run, but on no account should a bowler take a run likely to tire him. His action after the start for the run up to the point of letting go the ball should be perfectly natural. It is obviously a mistake to copy the idiosyncrasies of a favourite bowler at the sacrifice of your own effectiveness. But it is worth while to observe and digest the style and methods of the great bowlers of the day, and then see how far that which in them seems to be most telling can be incorporated with your own natural style. Beware of imitating mere mannerisms that are not essential factors of success; you might just as well grow whiskers in order the better to approximate 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 style in order to gain this point is very questionable, but those who have a tendency towards such a manner of delivering the ball may safely be advised to make the most of their advantage.
There is another word to be said with regard to delivery. Every cricketer agrees that a bowler should have his hand as high as possible when he brings his arm over to deliver the ball. Have we not all heard W. G.'s reiterated exhortation to Roberts, the Gloucestershire bowler, "Keep your arm up, Fred; keep your arm up"? The reason is that, coming from a high elevation, a ball is more difficult to judge in its flight; it has more fire or "devil" in it; it is more apt to rise or bump, and spins up more quickly from the pitch. It is usually, and, I think, with reason regarded as a sign of a bowler's decline when his action becomes lower.
Again, there should be no hesitation or stopping in the run up before actually despatching the ball, otherwise the advantage of the impetus gained by the run is lost. Equally important is a smooth free action in the swing of the arm; without this there is likely to be a lack of sting. Nearly all the great bowlers, especially the fast bowlers, have had high free deliveries.
To return to change of pace. My advice to bowlers is, that in attempting to alter their pace they should take great pains to avoid altering their style or delivery. The whole object of the move is to deceive the batsman. If he has the slightest hint that something different is coming, he is on the look-out and ready to meet the trick. If he is thoroughly taken in, he will probably make the same stroke as he did to the last ball bowled him, and play too soon or too late, as the case may be. It is unwise to exaggerate the change. A very slight alteration is enough. The change of pace should in no way affect the appearance of the ball in the air. If the change is too pronounced, the batsman is almost sure to detect it. Nor should the trick be tried too often, otherwise he will be continually on the qui vive.We will suppose now that our bowler is medium-pace, that he has acquired the art of changing his pace without altering his action or style of delivery, and that he is able also to bowl straight at will with a good length, and with variation of pitch. How ought he to apply this power of changing his pace? Sometimes he should bowl three balls of the five in an over at his normal pace, one of the five faster, and another of the five slower. Another over might consist of two medium, two slow, and one fast. It would be a good plan sometimes to bowl two or
C. T. B. TURNER, "THE TERROR."
From photo by E Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
When a bowler wants to send down a ball slower than usual, he holds the ball less tightly, and in such a way that, in delivering it, much of the action, instead of taking effect on the ball, is wasted on the air; or else he checks his action imperceptibly, in a way impossible to describe. Mr S. M. J. Woods, before he took to making his looo runs a-year, used to change his pace in a most marvellous manner. Lohmann, too, had reduced the trick to a fine art. Some bowlers in changing their pace raise the arm above, or drop it below, its usual height. This was a favourite device of Alfred Shaw, which frequently made the batsman wonder what was going to happen, and thus put him into two minds. Every bowler must work out the idea for himself. If he masters the art of changing his pace, his side will have frequent cause to bless him when the sky is brazen and the wicket smooth and hard as vulcanite.
Now we come to "break," and how it is effected. The accepted meanings of the terms off-break and leg-break have been explained. For the sake of convenience, all bowlers are regarded as right-hand. There is no difficulty in applying to left-handers what is said about right-handers. "Break" is the result of a spin which, previously imparted to the ball, takes effect when the ball meets the ground. It is analogous to the "side" on a billiard-ball. Off-break is put on by making the ball spin outwards from left to right. When a ball thus spinning meets the ground, the friction causes it to break from left to right—that is, although continuing its onward course after pitching, it changes its direction rather in favour of the outward spin. All spin is directly and ultimately produced by the friction of the ball against the fingers. But there are two kinds of break, known as "finger-break" and "action-break." The former is used by slow bowlers, the latter by fast. Medium-pace bowlers seem to employ a combination of the two. The difference is hard to explain, but any experienced bowler will recognise that it exists. A slow bowler, in putting on off-break, gives the ball a distinct twist with his fingers and wrist, using chiefly his first, second, and third fingers. But the fast bowler lets the ball fly from his hand without consciously giving it a twist; the result of his body, arm, and wrist action imparts to the ball an outward left-to-right spin. There is a certain amount of "flick" from the fingers, but this is quite different from the twist of the slow bowler. It is instructive to note that fast bowlers often strain the muscles of their backs and sides in attempting to make the ball break from the offWhat I have called "action-break" is sometimes called "body-break." It is more or less natural, whereas "finger-break" is mainly artificial. The manner in which "action-break" or "body-break" is imparted to the ball seems to be of this kind. When, after a fairly long and rapid run, a fast right-hand bowler delivers the ball, he plants his left foot in front of him, and then, just as he lets go the ball, flings his body, right arm, shoulder, and leg forward, but rather across towards the left. This action gives the hand a sweep across the ball, making it spin in its flight outwards from left to right. However this may be, right-hand bowlers break naturally from left to right, left-handers from right to left. Indeed, unless the ball be very loosely held, it is practically impossible to bowl a ball which, after pitching, goes on in exactly the same straight line as that of its flight. If the ball is tightly held, "body-action" at once operates. As to "finger-break," it is fairly easily effected by slow or slow-medium bowlers. The only difficulty is to combine it with good length. A slow can obtain more break than a medium, a medium more than a fast bowler, and for this reason: the more rapid the flight of the ball, the less time is it in contact with the ground; but the longer it is in contact with the ground, the more chance has the spin of operating by means of
RICHARDSON IN THE ACT OF DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
RICHARDSON AFTER DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
Leg-break is artificial rather than natural, and is much more difficult to produce than off-break. Hence it is not surprising that exponents of it are rare, at least successful exponents. Whatever the reason, it is exceedingly difficult to combine leg-break with precision of length or accuracy of direction. Even the best leg-break bowlers are in the habit of sending down a considerable number of loose balls. However well they bowl, they are liable at times to unmerciful punishment. Sometimes they are extraordinarily successful. Of late years, Mr Charles Townsend has been the only bowler of this kind who has done exceptionally good work. His effectiveness makes one wonder that more do not try to follow in his footsteps. The leg-break is obtained by holding the ball with all the fingers, and at the moment of delivery turning the fingers as well as the wrist over the ball from right to left. This turn is artificial and difficult to acquire, which is probably the reason why it is so rarely combined with good length and straightness. There is no such thing as "action-break" from leg. Nothing but finger-work imparts leg-break. This is the reason why there is no fast legbreak bowling. Some fast bowlers, by holding the ball loosely, can make it swing across the wicket; but this is not leg-break; the ball merely "goes with the arm"—that is, continues the direction of its previous flight instead of breaking, however slightly, from the off.Difficult as it is to the bowler, the leg-break, if well bowled, is very difficult to play. This is due not so much to any special devilry in the bowling as to the limitations of the batsman. It is true that some leg-break bowlers get a surprising amount of work on the ball, but that hardly affects the question, as even a moderate amount is nearly as hard to deal with. In the first place, the ball spins off the ground quite differently from the off-break. It does not come straight from the pitch at a certain angle to its previous line of flight; on the contrary, it describes a kind of curve after pitching, or, in other words, curls off the ground. While the ball is behaving thus, it is rather difficult to judge it
TOWNSEND DELIVERING THE BALL.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
Besides the spins that can be imparted to the ball with the results described above, there are two others possible but more difficult to master. These are rarely attempted save by a few experts, but they are worth describing. The ball may be given a twist with the fingers and wrist, so that, in its flight towards the batsman, it revolves outwards from the bowler with an over-andover motion like that of a carriage-wheel travelling away from him. This spin, which corresponds with "top" put on a billiard-ball to make it "follow through," causes the ball to bound forward after pitching with increased rapidity. The other motion is just the reverse of this, with the opposite result. The ball is made to rotate in the same way as a lawn-tennis ball which, under-cut by the racquet, reverts to the striker's side of the net after pitching on the other side. By a spin corresponding to "drag" on a billiard-ball, the ball is made to hug the ground when it pitches, and to rise slowly afterwards, or "hang," as it is called by cricketers. Both these spins are very likely to cause a mistimed stroke, because the ball comes off the pitch at a pace different from that of its flight. With some bowlers it either "hangs" or m.ore often comes fast off the pitch owing to something in their regular action. The power to produce either of the spins artificially is confined to slow or medium-pace bowlers. Most good fast bowlers come quickly off the pitch by nature; in fact, it is this quality chiefly that distinguishes them from the ordinary "slinger." Both Briggs and Jack Hearne, when helped by the wicket, are very skilful at making balls of apparently similar flights either "stop and look at yo " or whip along like lightning. Mold's deliveries, though less rapid in their flight than Richardson's, come off the pitch as fast if not faster. The two former produce their results by finger-and-wrist-work, the two latter by some natural quality of their action.
Thus there are four kinds of spin that can be put on a ball. The ideal bowler should be master of them all. And inasmuch as every bowler should set before himself and try to reach the highest standard, he should do his best to acquire a command of off-break and leg-break, "top" and "hang." The two first are the more important, as they are the more generally useful; the two others are rather refinements. For practical purposes a bowler, unless he has a natural turn for the leg-break, had better thoroughly master the off"-break first, then try to learn the leg-break, and finally, after perfecting these two, see what he can do with the others. On no account should a new break be attempted if it at all spoils the power acquired over that which is most natural and is mastered first. A bird in the hand is worth two or even three in the bush.As may be gathered from previous remarks, great bowling skill is not attained even by the most gifted in one season nor yet in three seasons. It is an affair of years. The best plan is to learn
J. T. HEARNE JUST BEFORE DELIVERY (SIDE DELIVERY).
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
J. T. HEARNE AFTER DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
But there is another side to the question. Even when a bowler has acquired mechanical accuracy and considerable command of pace and break, his education is by no means complete. He has to learn to apply all this—to adapt his skill to circumstances. In order to do this successfully he must use his wits. He must know all about his own bowling, its possibilities and limitations. He must understand the different kinds of wickets on which he will have to bowl at different times. He must also be able to place his fielders suitably for different batsmen under various conditions of wicket, and learn the art of laying siege to batsmen's weak points.Wickets may be divided into those in favour of the batsmen and those in favour of the bowler. The former consist of three sorts—the fast dry, the fast wet, and the slow wet wicket; the latter also of three—the fiery, the crumbling, and the caked or sticky wicket. There are, of course, innumerable gradations in the pace and quality of various wickets, but the above classification is accurate enough for present purposes. On a good "fast dry" wicket it is almost impossible to put any break on the ball; you must trust to good length and variation of pace and pitch. On a good slow wicket some break can be effected, but the ball comes so dully off the pitch that, unless it hangs a bit, there is no difficulty in playing it. When the ball hangs, a "catch and bowl" is often the result. On such a wicket it is a good plan to bowl rather faster than usual—that is, if you are a medium-pace or slow bowler—in order to put as much sting into the delivery as the wicket will allow of. As to a hard wet wicket, an ordinary good wicket after a brief shower, to make the ball break at all is next to impossible. The ground is hard and slippery, and the ball simply skids along after pitching. On such a wicket, however, the ball always comes very quickly off the pitch, and is liable to keep low, or even to shoot. There is nothing more in favour of the batsman than rain falling often and in small quantities, whatever the previous state of the wicket; for when recently watered by rain the wicket is bound to play easily—the ball either whips along quite straight or cuts through. Moreover, the ball is slippery and cannot be properly grasped by the bowler, who is likewise handicapped by being unable to get a good foothold. There is little doubt that a hard fast wicket, made greasy on the top by rain, is the best of all from the point
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
There are wickets of an intermediate sort which cannot be said to be distinctly to the advantage of either party. On such the bowler should try every device he can think of. Remember that when things in general are on the batsman's side, nothing but good length can be consistently successful, though occasionally, when two batsmen are set and seem to require "lined-ferrets and a spade to get them out," it pays to put on the wildest and worst bowler on the side. When things look really black, a captain would often do well to ask his stiffest comrade to bowl, and to tell his fieldsmen to scatter where they like. However unorthodox and unscientific such proceedings would be, they might be successful; for there is nothing like a change of some sort, and the more pronounced it is the better.
The "fiery" wicket has been included among those that favour the bowler, in spite of the fact that many large scores have been compiled upon such. At any rate, there is something to be done with the ball when, though apparently sound and true, the wicket has fire in it. The ball bumps and rises quickly; hence catches at the wicket or in the slips. Often, too, a good deal of break can be put on. Fast bowlers are generally very effective on wickets of this kind.
"Crumbling" results either from the nature of the turf and soil or from the wear and tear of long inningses. When the pitch looks cracked and dust begins to fly, the bowler's heart rejoices. Often a wicket that has been perfect, hitherto, suddenly goes wrong in the fourth innings of a match because rough usage has made the turf ragged and loose. All capable bowlers can make wonderfully good use of such wickets; but perhaps medium-pace and slow bowlers have a slight advantage over fast bowlers, as the latter are more liable to be snicked and mis-hit without the ball going to hand. The ball can be made to break extraordinarily and very quickly; it is apt both to bump and keep low. Batsmen have an uncomfortable time of it. Turner, "the Terror," and George Lohmann simply revel in such wickets.
DAVIDSON STANDING BEFORE TAKING HIS RUN TO BOWL.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
Those batsmen who have had the melancholy pleasure of trying to keep up their wickets for a minute or two against such bowlers as Briggs, Peel, Trumble, or Jack Hearne on a sticky wicket, will realise fully the truth of these remarks.
Until a bowler thoroughly understands the various kinds of wickets, he cannot know how to employ to the best advantage any skill he may have. He is liable to miss opportunities and to waste energy; not to bowl as well as he might, both when they favour him and when they do not. It is clearly bad policy to I make prodigious efforts at break when the ground will not take it, or to try refined and difficult devices when the simpler and easier would be more telling. Wickets should be carefully studied in general and in particular. Before a match a bowler ought to go and look at the pitch in order to find out all about it. He is justified in taking advantage not only of the state of the wicket, but of trees or houses that may happen to be behind his arm and obscure his delivery. Any unfair device is, of course, to be condemned—such, for instance, as a needlessly flapping sleeve, intended to distract or annoy the batsman. But that is quite a different matter from making the most of things as, they are. There may be a slight slope at one end just suited to a particular bowler's deliveries, or one end may take his fancy rather than the other. There may be a rough spot on the wicket at one end exactly in his length that will materially help him. All such things should be discovered and considered before a match actually begins, and every means should be taken to get all possible help from them. A bowler who follows such methods_is much more likely to be successful than the ordinary unobservant being who bowls haphazard. As "Sammy" Woods says, "A cove isn't bowling because he sends down five balls an over."
A facetious cricketer of my acquaintance divides all bowling into two kinds—that which gets wickets, and that which does not. He adds that there are many who are bowlers but do not get batsmen out, and many who are not bowlers but do. The first point is clear enough; the second requires some thought. In any case his lines of division are rather broad for our purposes. Perhaps it will be best to follow the old order and divide bowlers into classes, according as they are slow, medium, or fast, and according as they are under-arm, round-arm, or over-arm, and again, according as they are right-hand or left-hand. These divisions, though accurate enough, cross one another in every direction. So it is impossible to keep to them without falling into many intricacies and much repetition.Slow bowlers of every description depend upon their skill in varying pace and pitch and in making the ball break. They must be very resourceful, full of tricks and devices, but at the same time extremely accurate and steady. Of all bad bowlers a bad slow bowler is the worst, because a batsman has ample time to see his deliveries and deal with them according to taste. But a good slow bowler—one who has a perfect command of the ball and knows how to apply it—has many advantages. In the first place, he can go on bowling much longer than a fast or even a medium. There is nothing in his action to tire him. He can continue changing pace and pitch without much trouble. For it must be remembered that in the case of fast and medium bowlers it requires far more exertion to bowl a ball either above or below their normal pace than it does to keep up that pace mechanically. The change to a slower ball requires a repressive effort; that to a faster naturally implies extra exertion. A slow bowler is affected in the same way, but in an infinitely less degree. Again, most slow bowlers, especially if they are what may be called natural bowlers, are aided by the fact that the flight of their balls is inclined to be deceptive. The ball hangs in the air on account of its slow pace, and thus is more liable to atmospheric effects, if the phrase may be used. For instance, if there is a wind blowing, the ball is apt to deviate in the air one way or the other from its course, and thus beat the batsman. Furthermore, slow bowlers can command variation of trajectory. They can toss the ball much higher in the air than faster bowlers without over-pitching it. There is something curiously deceptive about a high dropping ball. The exact
MOLD DELIVERING THE BALL.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
MOLD AFTER DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
Fast bowlers, on the other hand, depend in the first instance upon sheer pace to get wickets. They cannot expect to make the ball break more than a few inches, inasmuch as the pace they put on the ball prevents, as already explained, the operation of finger-work. If their actions naturally cause the ball to break, so much the better. But only few are gifted with much action-break. A fast bowler may vary his pace; but not too frequently, otherwise he is liable to become a medium-pace bowler with a fast ball instead of what he ought to be—a fast bowler with an occasional slower or medium-pace ball. His great aim should be to keep a good length with plenty of pace. The faster he can make the ball come from the pitch, the more deadly will he be. Pace from the pitch does not always result from extra exertion in delivering the ball; it comes from spin imparted by wrist "flick," and from freedom of swing. Mold is an excellent example of this point.Medium-pace bowlers are in a very happy position. They are able to a great extent to unite in their bowling the powers and advantages of the two other kinds. They have enough pure pace to justify their relying to a certain extent upon it—that is, they bowl fast enough to be formidable on that account alone. At the same time, they are not so fast but that they can use wrist- and finger-break. They can change their pace to faster or slower with ease and effect. But, on the whole, medium and slow bowlers have to exercise more head-work and judgment than fast bowlers, to whom within reasonable limits pace is everything. A bowler must find out for himself whether nature intended him to be fast, medium, or slow; and having decided upon the pace that suits him best, he must stick to his choice. It is never quite easy to gauge nature's intentions correctly, so some care and thought must be exercised. It is a good plan to consult an experienced cricketer on the subject. Boys have a decided inclination to be fast bowlers. Pace is evident, and more or less tangible. They naturally devote more attention to that kind of bowling than to slower medium. School authorities are strongly urged to have an eye upon young bowlers and keep them in the way they should go. Good slow and medium-pace bowling is rare among amateurs, and should be encouraged accordingly. It is a long time since a really good slow bowler came from the
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
PEEL IN THE ACT OF DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
WALTER HUMPHREY'S LOB-BOWLING IN THE ACT OF DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
J. J. FERRIS IN THE ACT OF DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
R. G. BARLOW IN THE ACT OF DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
Over-arm bowling—fast, medium, and slow—is the kind most generally adopted now. Almost certainly it is the best. The bowler who has the higher action, if he has the other requirements of good bowling, attains the better results. As to pace, relatively fast bowlers are, as a rule, most successful upon fast fiery wickets; slow and medium upon sticky or crumbling wickets. The general practice of right-hand over-arm bowlers is to bowl at the off-stump or just outside it with an off-break, varied occasionally by a ball that gives with the arm. He who can follow this plan, change his pace and pitch as circumstances require, and supplement everything with a liberal use of his wits, should not fail to meet with success. A bowler with a high action must be very careful not to bowl too much to leg, as his balls have, to begin with, a tendency to break across the wicket from the off-side. Most of what has already been said in treating of bowling in general applies to the method that had better be followed by over-arm bowlers; for this kind being most common, naturally suggests the line taken in dealing with the subject of bowling. I^ittle can be added to the advice previously given with reference to slow and medium-pace bowling. Right-hand over-arm medium-pace, indeed, is the type of all bowling, and is usually in a cricketer's mind when talking of bowling in the abstract.The side that possesses the greatest variety of bowling will, other things being equal, come out with the best results at the end of a season. Certainly no side is complete without a good fast bowler. He is particularly useful in several ways. Batsmen on first coming in, and as yet unaccustomed to the Hght and the pace of the wicket, are more likely to mistime his than slow or medium-pace balls, simply because there is less time to watch them and to correct mistakes. Again, it not unfrequently happens that the tail-end of a team, by dint of determination and a little luck, knock slow or medium-pace deliveries, however good, all over the field. The presence of a good fast bowler, who can bowl straight, usually prevents this occurrence. It will be noticed in looking over scores that, apart from other and more marvellous performances, Richardson and Mold generally dismiss, under double figures, two or three of the batsmen who go in early on a side, and also cause the last three or four to follow one another in quick succession to the pavilion. A good batsman when he gets set can score freely and rapidly off fast bowlers: while he remains, runs must come. Then is the slow or medium-pace bowler's chance. The latter kind of bowling, if good, is not easy to score off, though fairly easy to keep out of the wicket. According to statistics, fast bowling seems to be most deadly in very dry seasons, when the ground is difficult to make perfectly smooth and has plenty of fire in it. It may be as well to repeat that a fast bowler should be very careful to bowl within his strength. By consistently bowling beyond it he cannot increase his pace much, and is absolutely sure to become stale and worn out in a very short time. Pace, at the same time, is the main thing in this case. The very object of fast bowling is to beat the batsman by the swift flight of the ball. The batsman is very apt to miss or make a bad stroke off a fast ball that bumps, shoots, keeps low, or acts otherwise than expected. An erratic fast bowler is better than none at all. One who can maintain his pace for a considerable time, and keep a good but not too monotonous length, is always valuable. Many natural fast bowlers fall into the error of being over-anxious to make the ball break, and thus are liable to spoil both pace and length. All bowlers should lay well hold of that which is essential to their style. In a fast bowler pace is indispensable, and good length highly desirable. A fairly long run has already been recommended to bowlers. This applies particularly to fast bowlers. A long run is likely to cause the batsman's attention and vigilance to flag, and tends to breed uncertainty in his mind; adds sting and force to bowling; gives the bowler time to make up his mind what ball to bowl; and contributes largely, if properly managed, to the deceptiveness of a variation of pace. The slow ball delivered after a series of fast ones, in such a manner that it looks exactly like another of them, is one of the most deadly that can be bowled. I have repeatedly seen batsmen so taken in by S. M. J. Woods' slow ball that they have finished their stroke almost before it actually pitched. Lockwood, too, does great execution with his curious change of pace. All bowlers, particularly fast ones, are recommended to bowl a few practice-balls before
S. M. J. WOODS IN THE ACT OF DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
Left-hand bowlers of all paces, if at all high class, are exceedingly difficult to see and to play. The natural break of a lefthander is from his right to left. He effects it in the same way that a right-hand bowler does his break from left to right, the normal off-break. Hence left-handers can and do make a speciality of the ball that breaks from leg to right-hand batsmen. The break is not quite so deadly as the right-hander's curl from leg, but it can be bowled in combination with more accuracy and precision of length. The ordinary left-hander, too, can command more break from leg than the ordinary right-hander. Not that this is altogether a point of superiority, for the best ball is not the one that breaks most but the one that just breaks enough—enough to beat the bat but not the wicket, or else to beat the centre of the bat and just touch its edge.Left-hand bowlers are very fond of bowling balls with their natural break pitching on or just outside the off-stump. This ball after pitching is continually going away from a right-hand batsman, and unless he judges and times it to a nicety, a catch at the wicket, in the slips, or somewhere on the off-side, will probably cause his downfall. Notice that for this kind of bowling nearly all the fields are put on the off. One of the most effective balls in the left-hander's repertoire is the dead straight one without any break, especially on a wicket which takes a considerable amount of work, if bowled after several balls breaking away a good deal. The batsman is very likely to expect and allow for the break, and in consequence to be bowled or get out leg-before-wicket. The left-hander's fast ball coming in with the arm—that is, swinging across on to the wicket from the off instead of breaking away from leg—has already been mentioned and appreciated. Some batsmen appreciate it in another sense and punish it unmercifully. The celebrated Australian left-hander, Allen, used to make the ball curl in towards the batsman in the air and break away after pitching. No wonder he got wickets. A more baffling combination of difficulties could hardly be imagined. A certain number of bowlers can, or at any rate do, effect the curl in the air, but the ball usually breaks in the same direction that the curl takes. Even these are nasty customers to tackle. Whether any bowlers can impart this curl in the air to the ball at will is a moot point. That bowling does curl in the air no one will deny who has played Walter Wright, Rawlin, or W. G. Grace. Some bowlers do not curl except when a strong wind is blowing against them. The most astonishing performer in this respect is Mr Murdoch, the Sussex captain, who, though not a regular bowler, is often induced to try an over or two when the wind blows, to see whether his peculiar faculty will work. I have not been able to discover, any more than the bowlers themselves, why or how curl in the air takes place. The deliveries of all those mentioned are so totally different as to have apparently only this property in common. Wright is a left-hander of only moderately high delivery. Rawlin uses his right hand and keeps it rather high. Mr Murdoch bowls right hand with a round-armish delivery; so does Dr Grace, though perhaps his arm is lower. The pace of these four also differs; so does their quality. Another curious point about them is, that without any apparent reason they curl at one time much more than at another. A perfectly new ball seems to favour the peculiar flight. The late Australian Eleven during their tour in America were completely beaten in a match with the Philadelphians owing to the deadly effectiveness with which one of their bowlers caused the ball to swerve in the air. He is an excellent baseball player, and is said to have learnt to apply the methods of that game to cricket. When cricketers learn to command this curl in addition to their other devices, batting will become more difficult than ever. A Mr Procter has
MARTIN ABOUT TO DELIVER THE BALL.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
MARTIN AFTER DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
ATTEWELL JUST BEFORE DELIVERY.
From photo by G. Caldwell, Nottingham.
Perhaps it may be instructive to work, however sketchily, through a typical side of batsmen—taking, of course, the batsman's point of view. But, before doing this, a few words must be said about the placing of fieldsmen. It is the greatest mistake in the world to think that there is one fixed arrangement which is the best in all circumstances. Every man in the field must be put into position with due regard to three points—the particular kind of bowling that is being employed, the particular kind of batsman who is at the wicket, and the particular state of the ground. Nearly every bowler ought to have his field placed differently, however slightly, from every other one. It is easy enough to give plans of the arrangements of fieldsmen to suit typical fast, medium, and slow bowlers; but it must be remembered that each fast bowler requires some alteration to suit his individual style and methods, and again must admit modifications to meet the idiosyncrasies of each batsman and the peculiarities of certain conditions of wicket. It is the slight changes that make all the difference between a well and a badly placed field. Some sides which are weak in bowling have to live by their wits. With a champion bowler to put on at each end, matters are considerably simplified. The only chance for a side that has but moderate bowling at its command, is to make that bowling as good as possible by having every fieldsman in exactly the right place. No opportunity must be missed. Catches must be caught when they come to hand, and every means must be taken to bring them to hand. A really good fieldsman makes catches that an ordinary fieldsman would not attempt; he seems to turn strokes that are out of his reach into easy chances. He helps himself, and does not wait to be provided with catches straight into his hands. A good bowler—good in this particular point— aids his fieldsmen by so placing them that they have the best possible chance of fielding to the greatest advantage of his side. He fixes their sphere, and their duty is to work their utmost therein. A good captain tries to identify himself so completely with his side, as a whole and in all its parts, that he fields with every fieldsman and bowls every ball with his bowlers. He is, in truth, the soul of his side. He helps and directs it as well as ever he can, and is at the same time its absolute commander.
To return to typical arrangements of fields. The following plans are intended to give general ideas, and not to be regarded as unalterably right.
[Plans of Fields.
Plan of the Field for a Fast Right-hand Bowler (e.g., Richardson), (i.) On a good, fast, dry wicket; (ii.) on a fast wicket wet on the surface; (iii.) on a fiery wicket.
Note.—In cases (ii.) and (iii.) slips should be deeper. In (iii.) dispense with 11a or 11b and put him at 11d.
Plan of a Field for a Fast Right-hand Bowler (e.g., Richardson), (i.) On a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—In case (i.) either short-leg or a third slip may be used according to the batsman. In case (ii.) a short-leg is indispensable, and usually extra long-on may be used instead of third-man, point being slightly behind the wicket, or mid-on may be moved towards umpire and short-leg moved back to extra long-on. In case (iii.) slips must be deeper and lob or 5 moved to fine long-leg, point being behind the wicket.
Plan of the Field tor a Medium Right-hand Bowler (e.g., Attewell or Davidson), (i.) On a good, fast, dry wicket; (ii.) on a fast wicket wet on the surface; (iii.) on a fiery wicket.
Note.—In case (ii.) both slips should be deeper, as also in case (iii.)
Plan of the Field for a Medium Right-hand Bowler (e.g., Attewell or Davidson), (i.) On a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—In case (ii.) extra-slip (4) should be moved to extra long-on, 11b. Mid-on (g) moved round towards the umpire and nearer the batsman. Short-leg (10) nearer the batsman but behind the wicket. In case (iii.) both slips should be deeper.
Plan of the Field for a Slow Right-hand Bowler (e.g., Wainwright). (i.) On a good, fast, dry wicket; (ii.) on a fast wicket wet on the surface, except that slip should in this case be deeper than in (i.)
Note.—This plan is also correct for the above bowler on a fiery wicket, except that (i) slip may be put deeper, and (2), if considered advisable, extra-cover may be moved to extra-slip.
Plan of the Field for a Slow Right-hand Bowler (e.g., Wainwright). (i.) On a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—In case (iii.) it would perhaps be a good plan to put point behind the wicket and move third-man up to extra-slip. Both slips should be a shade deeper.
Plan for a Slow Right-hand Leg-break Bowler (e.g. C. L. Townsend). (i.) On a good, fast, dry wicket; (ii.) on a good fast wicket wet on the surface; (iii.) on a fiery wicket.
Note.—In case of a strong off-hitter, point may be put behind the wicket and the man released put at long-off. To a good leg-place third-man may be brought over to short-leg.
Plan for a Slow Right-hand Leg-break Bowler (e.g., C. L. Townsend). On (i.) a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—11a and 11b interchangeable, according to batsmen.
Plan of the Field for a Fast Left-hand Bowler (e.g., Hirst), (i.) On a good, fast, dry wicket; (ii.) on a fast wicket wet on the surface; (iii.) on a fiery wicket.
Note.—In case (iii.) it may be advisable to bring in long-off to mid-off, or put mid-off in the slips, and put the released slips either at fine long-leg or deep third-man.
Plan of the Field for a Fast Left-hand Bowler (e.g., Hirst), (i.) On a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—In case (i.) the third slip (5) may be moved to extra-cover, in which case cover must be square—i.e., must be moved towards third-man.
Plan of the Field for a Medium Left-hand Bowler (e.g., Martin), (i.) On a good, fast, dry wicket; (ii.) on a fast wicket wet on the surface; (iii.) on a fiery wicket.
Note—That for left-hand bowlers the slips should perhaps not be so fine as for right-hand bowlers. In case (iii.) both slips should be deeper than in (i.) and (ii.)
Plan of the Field for a Medium Left-hand Bowler (e.g., Martin), (i.) On a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—The field is placed for case (ii.) or (iii.) In case (i.) long-off must be much straighter—i.e., more behind the bowler—and extra-slip (4) be moved to short-leg (4b).
Plan of a Field for a Slow Left-hand Bowler (e.g., Peel), (i.) On a good fast wicket; (ii.) on a fast wicket wet on the surface; (iii.) on a fiery wicket.
Plan of the Field for a Slow Left-hand Bowler (e.g., Peel), (i.) On a slow easy wicket; (ii.) on a sticky wicket; (iii.) on a crumbling wicket.
Note.—In case (i.) extra-slip should be moved to forward short-leg, and extra-cover moved to long-on. A really good slow left-hander on a really difficult wicket only needs one man in the country.
Plan of a Field for a Lob-Bowler (e.g., Humphreys) on any wicket. Subject to many alterations to suit various batsmen.
|1. Stockwell.||5. H. H. Rush.||9. G. Altmann.|
|2. Cain.||6. Hareless.||10. Forrest.|
|3. Netherland.||7. L. J. Lock.||11. Dickson.|
|4. Strawyard.||8. Keywood.|
Stockwell and Cain leave the pavilion, and are greeted with cheers appreciative of what they have done and are going to do. Stockwell looks like a soldier—bronzed, upright, and manly. He holds his head up with an air that means business. Cain is a curious little fellow with a slow, jerky gait, and a serio-comic cast of countenance. But he is all there—a tough nut to crack, and a general favourite. He takes block. "Does it cover 'em both, Tom? Thank you." He looks round to see where the fieldsmen are placed, finds them in normal positions, settles himself, and indicates by his manner that he is ready. "Play!"
The bowler, fast right-hand with a long run, sends down four good-length balls on the off-stump, to which Cain plays carefully forward without scoring. The fifth ball of the over is a full-pitch—evidently an attempt at a yorker—-which is forced gently but firmly past the bowler. One run only, as there is a long-field almost straight behind the wicket.
The bowler at the other end is medium-pace left-hand. His first two balls are good-length pitching, rather outside the offstump, and breaking away ever so little. Cain shapes twice for a cut, but lets both pass without making a stroke. He snicks the third ball off his leg-stump for three. Stockwell then takes his guard, and stands in his own determined attitude to receive his first ball. It is slightly over-pitched on the off-stump, and is driven hard and clean to the boundary. The last ball of the over is a yorker, well bowled and just stopped in time. Both batsmen continue scoring, each in his own style, for several overs. By this time both have found out something. Cain is a slow, patient, steady bat, with not the remotest intention of risking his wicket. Nothing can tempt him to have a go. But he is apt to lunge out at good-length balls rather prematurely, has a weak half-hearted stroke between the slips, and does not find a fast, short, quick-rising ball much to his taste. He is inclined to retire slightly towards short-leg, and "spar" at fast, straight balls. So the fast bowler decides to try him with an over or two of his fastest balls, rather short of good-length, and varying in direction from the middle-stump to a foot outside the offstump. His idea is to make Cain fidgety, and get him caught at the wicket or at slip. Should that plan fail, he intends to see whether by bowling a series of pitched-up balls, not quits half-volleys, he can get Cain to play forward mechanically. Then without any change of action he will send one a little shorter and a little slower, in the hope that the batsman will lunge out too soon and give an easy catch in front of the wicket. The left-hand bowler does not quite see what is to be done with Cain, who is too careful to fall into a medium-pace bowler's traps; so he decides to play "diamond cut diamond." He keeps a perfect length on and just outside the off-stump, in order, if possible, to get the batsman to feel at the ball—to grope forward on faith without watching the ball closely. By keeping this up and slightly changing his pace he may get Cain stumped in overreaching, or caught at the wicket or at slip. He has already tossed up one or two half-volleys, but Cain has played them, if possible, more carefully than the good-length balls. Stockwell plays a different game, and requires different treatment. He cracks an over-pitched ball to the boundary without any hesitation. He is not exactly rash, but seems, if anything, too keen to score. He has a fine free drive on the off, of which he is very fond—so fond, indeed, that he is inclined to play the stroke at unsuitable balls, with the result that he sometimes makes a bad uppish hit towards cover-point or third-man
As the wicket is good the left-hander cannot get much break on the ball, so he determines to feed Stockwell's off-drive judiciously. He first gives him a couple of straight good-length balls, then a beauty to drive on the off, which flies past extra-cover to the boundary. Then he bowls one rather wider and rather faster, at which Stockwell tries the same stroke, mistimes it, and sends the ball spinning straight at third-man's head. Third-man gets his hands in the right place, but fails to let them yield to the ball. Consequently it bounces out of his hands on to the ground. Hard luck on the bowler! Stockwell steadies himself after this and will not pick another "wrong 'un." The fast bowler tries yorkers and change of pace in vain. Stockwell cuts hard and true, and has no idea of being frightened by a short, bumping ball. The captain takes off the left-hand bowler, as the fast bowler seems to trouble Cain somewhat. Instead he puts on a slow leg-break bowler and alters the field accordingly. The new bowler's first ball is a short bad one, and Stockwell pulls it to the on-boundary; the second is pitched well up 6 inches outside the off-stump. Stockwell sees another fourer under his hand and tries to drive it in his most approved style; but he fails to get to the pitch of the ball and does not allow for the breakaway. The ball is skied and falls plumb into cover-point's hands—the safest pair in the kingdom. The batsman retires, prompt and good-humoured as ever, amid well-deserved applause. He has played a bright, interesting innings. His place is filled by Netherland, a young player of much promise—essentially a stylist, with brilliant strokes all round the wicket when set, but a nervous, indecisive starter. Obviously every effort must be made to get rid of him before he settles down. The leg-break bowler decides to try a good-length ball on the leg-stump with not too much break on it. He wants to make the new-comer either feel for the ball or have a wild hit at it. His manoeuvre is successful. Netherland plays forward half-heartedly, misses the ball, and is clean bowled.
The next on the list is Strawyard, the best and soundest bat on the side. He is not impatient, but can punish almost any bowling when he is set. He soon shows that he is quite at his best. He either plays the slow bowler right back or smothers his balls at the pitch. He watches the fast bowler well; turns his yorkers into full-pitches; times his changes of pace, and cuts without mercy his short balls outside the off-stump. The captain now tries a double change. For the fast bowler he substitutes the medium left-hander who began, and for the legbreak bowler a medium right-hander who can keep a good length and knows a trick or two. Now the left-hander remembers that Strawyard has a curious stroke of his own—a drive in the air over extra-cover's head, sometimes just out of reach, sometimes much higher; so he decides to see whether he cannot feed this stroke. Extra-cover and cover are unostentatiously warned to stand farther back and look out. He is careful not to show his hand too soon. His first four balls are straight good-length balls. The fifth is a well-pitched-up ball about a foot outside the off-stump. Strawyard promptly drives it just as expected—a real "skimmer" 6 feet over extra-cover's head. The bowler then tries to bowl variations of this ball in order to cause the batsman to make a mis-hit. Not a bit of it. Strawyard remembers what happened the last time he met this bowler, and is very careful to pick the right balls for the stroke. Meanwhile the right-hander has noticed that in playing forward to good-length balls just off the wicket Strawyard is inclined to drag his foot across the crease. Now how is a chance of stumping to be compassed? He bowls two good-length balls just on the off-stump, which are pushed away skilfully for two runs each. Then he bowls a ball slower, shorter, and wider, delivering it a yard behind the bowling-crease—a well-known trick that rarely succeeds in deceiving the batsman; but this time it does. Strawyard tries the same forward push-stroke, plays too soon, drags his foot in an attempt to smother the ball, and is smartly stumped. A good piece of bowling and a good man gone. All this time Cain has been playing as steadily as ever. He has been badly missed once by short-slip, and since then has shaped much better. Without forcing the game he is scoring consistently on both sides of the wicket. He is now joined by H. H. Rush, a very dangerous bat; not always a good starter, but a terror if he once gets settled. Most bowlers dislike bowling to him. He treats them all with the scantest courtesy. The better they bowl, the harder he hits. He is particularly strong on the on-side, and applies a marvellous pullstroke to good-length balls just outside the off-stump. He hits such a ball as if it were a half-volley to leg—a beautiful stroke if it comes off; when it does not, the critics shake their heads and say "Shocking." But perhaps bowlers with a sticky wicket and everything to favour them have been shocked by this stroke to better purpose. It has turned the tide in many a match. Its very unorthodoxy is half its merit. However, there is no tide to turn just now, no particular need for anything unorthodox. The great man takes his stand at the wicket with an expression half grim, half twinkle, in his cunning eyes. What is he going to do? What ball shall we give him? He seems to have come to stay to-day. During the first over or two he does not appear quite at home; he is playing with a concentrated carefulness that seems rather unnatural to him. Suddenly his air of restraint vanishes: a shortish ball from the right-hander is cracked between cover and extra-cover with terrific force. Then the fun begins. In spite of two fielders in the country on the on-side, good-length balls outside the off-stump are remorselessly pulled. They travel to taste—some high, some low, but none come to hand—and they travel often. One drops clean over the ropes—a gigantic hit. Square-cuts, off-drives, and placings-to-leg almost jostle one another to the boundary. This will not do. Both bowlers try all their devices in vain. They feed the pull, and the food is thankfully received. The batsman takes no notice of the long-fields; he seems to say to himself every time he hits, "Let 'em catch that, and welcome if they can." Both bowlers are taken off: the fast right-hander goes on at one end, the leg-break bowler at the other.
Cain has not had much to do lately: his partner seems to be batting both ends. Cain does not mind; he looks on comically, undisturbed. All the same, he is well on the way to a century. Cain often gets 100 runs, sometimes 200. He has to take the fast bowler's first over, and plays it as carefully as ever. The last ball of the over—a very fast one, as the bowler meant it to be—bumps unexpectedly. Cain flinches ever so slightly, just touches the ball, and is caught by short-slip. He cocks his eye thoughtfully at the spot where the ball pitched, walks out and pats the slight roughness there for the benefit of his successor, and then waddles off to the pavilion amid cheers. He acknowledges his reception by lifting his faded chocolate cap in a way entirely peculiar to himself.
Meanwhile the fast bowler is doing up his boot-lace and congratulating himself he noticed that rough patch on the pitch. It took five balls to plant the ball exactly upon it, but the attempt succeeded.
Hareless now comes to the wicket. He is a bigger but cheaper edition of the last player. He gives the impression of being an imitator rather than an original. He has, however, been known to make runs. Rush has now to face the leg-break bowler. He watches him closely, playing back to his good-length balls, and punishing those that are short or over-pitched. The fast bowler has by no means forgotten that spot. He pegs away at it, and occasionally makes a ball bump nastily. He has three slips for Hareless, who dislikes a bumping ball as much as Cain does. The leg-break bowler rather bothers Hareless, but fails to get him to hit out. The scoring goes on for some twenty minutes much as it did before Cain got out. Rush completes his century, amid the vociferous congratulations of the huge ring of spectators. Some old fellows nod their heads, and hazard the remark that it is quite like old times. After this Rush hits harder than ever for an over or two, pulling even the fast bowler round to the on. But he tries it once too often, hits a trifle too soon at a well-bowled slower ball, which towers high up over the wicket-keeper's head. Several fieldsmen begin circling about under the ball, but the "stumper," with a decided "Mine!" claims and secures the catch. The great man goes away, delighted at having found his skill as yet unabated. What a good answer this will be to the critics who have been questioning his value as a member of the eleven! But he ought not to have been taken in by that change of pace: he knew the trick was being tried. Still, he did not let that slow curly chap diddle him this time.
L. J. Lock now joins Hareless. The new-comer is captain of his side, and looks the part. He is deliberate solidity incarnate—a magnificent bat in his time. Nowadays he does not time the ball quite so well as he used, nor are his movements quite as quick and sure as of old. But he still has the clearest of eyes and the strongest of wrists. The very sight of him forbids the thought of champagne or cigars. He is a splendid man at a pinch, a very Viking. When matters are going well he does not seem to care much for his own success. Both bowlers know his weak stroke—a half chop, half push, that is meant to be a late cut,—an attempt to guide the ball through the slips. Each bowler at once sets about getting him caught at slip. Ball after ball is bowled outside the off-stump. The leg-break bowler gives him plenty of rather wide balls on the off. The fast bowler tries to send down a ball that swings away with his arm among others that break, however little, from the off. It is not long before Hareless scrapes forward to a slow ball from the fast bowler. He misjudges the flight, and is caught easily by mid-off".
Keywood now joins his captain. Keywood is a fine bat out of form. He begins by glancing the first bowler to leg—a beautiful stroke. He then drives him for two fours to the off and on boundaries. The fast bowler is trying to clean bowl him, and nearly does so with a yorker that just misses the offstump. The leg-break bowler is too much for Keywood. He swipes wildly at the first ball, and it beats both bat and wicket. The next one, which pitches on the leg-stump and breaks an inch or two, he feels for weakly, lifts his foot, and is promptly stumped.
His place is taken by George Altmann, a really good bat when he wants to be so, but one who, as a rule, goes in for a firework display. The leg-break bowler has got him caught in the long-field several times, and tries to do so now. The result is three successive fours, and then a fine catch by long-on.
Next comes Forrest, a tricky little bat with no particular strokes, and a marvellous power of snicking the ball. He needs clean bowling with a fast straight ball. The leg-break bowler actually tries to do this—a thing quite out of his line. He bowls a straight fast-medium ball, and is promptly snicked for four between the wicket and the batsman's legs. Forrest succeeds in compiling 20 runs before being caught at the wicket. He retires leaving an impression that at last a master of the genuine cut-to-leg has been discovered.
The last man is now at the wicket. He is a bowler of splendid physique, grand good-humour, and a most elementary idea of batting. He may be relied on to get himself out. A man is put to catch him between where square-leg might be and where long-on is. Dickson slashes the air once or twice, makes two mighty drives, and is then caught at extra-cover off a mishit. The captain has succeeded in not being caught at slip, and is "not out" with a useful 30 to his credit. Dickson apologises in a very cheery voice for having got out, and departs in wonderful spirits to get ready for a long spell of hard bowling.
An attentive observer would have learnt a good deal during this innings about the way a field should be arranged and changed to suit various circumstances. For instance, at the beginning of the match the captain of the fielding side, after consulting his best bowler, the fast right-hander, as to which end the latter would prefer, asked him to place his field. This he did exactly as shown on Plate A—long-off being nearly straight. When he found that Cain was going to take first ball, he motioned to long-off to come rather nearer the wicket and to short-slip to go rather finer. He also moved mid-on a yard and mid-off 2 yards nearer the batsman. Obviously he imagined that Cain was not capable of a hard hit in the air, but was likely to snick a ball fine to short-slip or push one gently up towards mid-on or mid-off. When Stockwell was batting to him, he sent long-off back to his original position and put shortslip rather wider. Subsequently, when Stockwell began to get set, the bowler asked the captain whether the third-slip had not better be moved to extra-cover, where no man was yet placed. After a short consultation the alteration was made. For all the other batsmen except Rush and Forrest he had his field arranged as he placed them originally. For Rush long-off was moved across to long-on; for Forrest long-on was moved to fine longleg. The bowler evidently knew that Rush's best hits were on the on-side, and that Forrest was an adept at the obsolete draw, an intentional stroke, or its present-day. equivalent, the snickto-leg.
The medium-pace left-hander had his field placed normally as in Plate M, for all the batsmen he opposed except Rush, in whose case long-off was moved to long-on and extra-cover to extra long-on—that is, about half-way between long-on and where square-leg would be. For Altmann long-on and long-off were in their normal positions. For the rest of the side long-on was brought in again to extra-cover. For Stockwell, Strawyard, Rush, and Altmann, cover-point, mid-off, and mid-on were a yard or two deeper than for the steadier batsmen.
The leg-break bowler had his field placed as in Plate G. For the hitting batsmen, Rush, Stockwell, and Altmann, point was moved behind the wicket, and third-man put at mid-off, and mid-off moved back to long-off. For the steadier but still fairly free bats, Strawyard, Netherland, Lock, and Keywood, long-off was not used, and the man thus released put at third-man. For the snickers and stickers, point was again moved behind the wicket, and third-man placed at short-leg beside the umpire.
The medium right-hander followed the plan suggested in Plate C, except that for Rush long-off was moved to long-on and long-on to extra-long-on.
But apart from more obvious alterations, the bowlers were continually slightly changing the fieldsmen to suit each batsman, and several times fieldsmen who unwittingly failed to resume the exact position the bowlers thought requisite were moved a yard this way or that. The general impression left on the observer was, that the fielding system was a pliable machine made to fit in as far as possible with the batsmen's strokes and the bowlers' requirements. There was nothing fixed or mechanical about the arrangements. Every move seemed to meet a need, and every change to be suggested by careful thought.
There is one more point that must be touched upon. No chapter on bowling would be complete without some discussion of the vexed question of "Throwing." It is a question about which it is exceedingly difficult to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion—partly because the precise point at issue is often entirely missed, partly because even those who understand it are in the habit of talking wildly and vaguely on the subject.
Quite apart from anything to do with cricket, there are two distinct ways of propelling to some distance an object grasped in the hand and lifted from the ground. One is bowling; the other throwing. Any method of thus propelling an object that is not bowling is throwing. Together the two methods cover every possible modification of such propulsion; but the distinction between them is absolute; there is, in reality, no such thing as a half bowl, half throw. I maintain that no one can mistake the two methods in his own case. The line of demarcation is clean and sharp. A man knows at once which he is using. But a looker-on cannot always be sure which of the two methods of propulsion is being employed. The eye is not quick enough to follow the instantaneous movements of the propeller's arm. Every one propels in a particular manner quite peculiar to himself, and often one individual propels in a way which to himself is genuine bowling, but looks to another like throwing. The second party knows that if he himself moved his arm as the iirst party seems to do, he himself would at once feel that the motion produced a throw, not a bowl. The second party, then, is liable to say unhesitatingly, "That man is throwing." He may be correct or he may not, but he can have no possible ground for being absolutely sure one way or the other unless the throw is absolutely deliberate and pronounced. The result is, that the distinction between bowling and throwing is subjectively certain, objectively uncertain. Subjectively, there can be no doubt which of the two methods is being employed in a particular instance; objectively, there may be much doubt.
If this is true, the reason is at once apparent why as yet no proper and conclusive definition of throwing as distinguished from bowling has been formulated. I am afraid I cannot supply the deficiency, though in my own mind I have a perfectly clear idea as to what is throwing and what is not. It is the elbow-work that makes the whole difference. In bowling, all the arm from the shoulder-joint to the wrist-joint is, no matter whether the arm be straight or bent at the elbow, purely a connecting medium between the hand and the body. In throwing, the elbow is not only a connecting-link, but actively participates in the propulsion. The elbow, at the very last moment before the ejection of the object from the hand, is shot forward in front of the rest of the arm, which is then instantaneously straightened in the very act of ejection. There is something distinctly jerky and flicky in this projection of the elbow and straightening of the arm, but the jerkiness must not be confused with the jerky motion that may be imparted by a quick turn or sudden stopping of the body to a genuine bowl with an absolutely straight arm. The great thing is to clearly understand that when the arm is kept perfectly straightened during the action of ejecting there cannot be any throwing in the case at all. But when during the action the arm is bent at the elbow, the method of ejection may or may not be a throw, according to whether the elbow is used directly to propel the object as described above or is not. It does not make any difference what the wrist is doing. Wrist-action in conjunction with elbow-action may form part of a throw; apart from elbow-action it cannot. It is possible to throw with very slight elbow-action combined with much wrist-action, but it is the elbow-action that makes or unmakes the throw. A minor point must be added. Sometimes a third method of propelling an object from the hand is taken into consideration. This is technically called a jerk. A jerk is a kind of modified throw in which the ball is made to leave the hand by a sudden stoppage of the arm's swing almost as soon as the swing begins. There are various kinds of jerks, but for practical purposes all are throws. Sometimes the swing is broken against the body, in which case the object is ejected in the same way as an apple impaled on a walking-stick flies off if the stick be hit against a tree-stem.
Now, contrary to the general idea, such considerations as these affect only indirectly the question of "throwing" as regards bowling in cricket. The rules on the point are these:—
Law 10.—"The ball must be bowled; if thrown or jerked, the umpire shall call 'No ball.'"
Law 48 (a).—"If the umpire at the bowler's end be not satisfied of the absolute fairness of the delivery of any ball, he shall call 'No ball.'"
Instructions to Umpires. Law 48.—"The special attention of umpires is called to this law, which directs them to call 'No ball,' unless absolutely satisfied of the fairness of the delivery."There are no definitions in the 'Laws of Cricket' of either bowling or jerking or throwing. It is presupposed that all umpires know that a ball must, in being propelled, be either bowled or not. The Laws direct an umpire to call "No ball" whenever he sees a ball so propelled that any question arises in his mind as to whether it is bowled or not. What could be more simple? And yet ninety-nine umpires out of a hundred entirely misunderstand their duty on the point. Nothing will make them "no-ball" a bowler until they are absolutely satisfied that he is throwing or jerking. A jerk in the technical sense of the word is unmistakable, and, hence does not really affect the question. But a throw is mistakable; and umpires think they have got to decide between what is a throw and what is a bowl. That is not the law at all. The law tells them to say "No ball" every time a ball is so delivered that any doubt, however slight,
A PLAYER ILLUSTRATING A DOUBTFUL DELIVERY.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
The aim of the law is to ensure that bowlers do bowl and not throw. And its aim is good. Throwing is bad, because it is dangerous owing to the terrific pace and bumping power it makes possible, because it simplifies the act of getting batsmen out, and requires far less skill than bowling. It puts batsmen at a disadvantage, just as the use of bats a foot broad would handicap bowlers. Any one can throw with some effect; few become good bowlers. As a matter of fact, the prevalence of the evil is grossly exaggerated. There are very few bowlers whose actions are suspicious, and none that I know of who throw deliberately. The absurdity of the fuss about throwing is, that no one ever thinks of accusing slow bowling of it; yet there are, and always have been, as many slow as fast bowlers with doubtful actions. If the umpires cannot be got to act on the laws, the only way to eradicate the evil, such as it is, is for every influential cricketer to tell boys and young players directly he sees anything suspicious in their actions, and to discourage generally all doubtful deliveries. If once the right opinion could be widely established, captains would be careful not to use any bowler whose delivery could raise any doubts of any kind whatever. For some reason the Australian conscience is more tender than ours upon this question of cricket morality. This is one of the many grand examples in cricket conduct that Australia has given us, and we would do well to follow it. It would be a great pity if our laxness in any way influenced Australian cricket. In the last team that came to us—in 1896—there were two bowlers with doubtful actions, Jones and M'Kibbin. This was a pity. From an umpire's point of view their deliveries were, unfair. Neither of them threw purposely, nor even suspected others of thinking they did. But why should we alone be allowed, and allow ourselves, licence in this respect? Certainly we have no right to cast the first nor yet the thirty-first stone.
In conclusion, a few stray hints. A bowler should take care to be properly shod, and to have nails in his boots suitable to the kind of ground he has to bowl on. Small short spikes are better when the ground is hard; long ones when it is soft. It is most important—in fact, it is absolutely essential—that the bowler be able to grip the ground well with his foot as he delivers the ball. Unless he does so he has no purchase, no points d'appui.
It is advisable to make the fingers as pliable and muscular as possible, so that they may be able to put spin on the ball. There is much virtue in learning to bowl on either side of the wicket—that is, both round or over the wicket. First, because a change from the one to the other is almost as good as a change from one bowler to another; and secondly, because the ground is liable to become so worn that the bowler can no longer get a proper footing on the one side, whereas the ground is intact on the other.
One of the best pieces of advice that can be given to a bowler is to keep in mind always the advantage of inducing the batsman to play forward. It is impossible for forward play to be quite as safe as back play, because there must be a moment when the ball is out of sight. Part of the stroke is made on faith, and a mistake cannot be corrected in most cases. F. R. Spofforth, the great Australian bowler, believed in this theory thoroughly, and always acted in accordance with it. He attributed much of his success to this. He was a bowler who thought, and to some purpose. W. L. Murdoch has many amusing stories of how "Spoff" used to lie awake at night wrestling with bowling problems, and trying to think how best to get rid of certain batsmen.
A bowler must understand that he owes implicit obedience to his captain, under whose guidance he has voluntarily placed himself He may, in his mind, dissent from the captain's views or disapprove of his generalship, but he must not show the slightest sign of open disobedience. On the contrary, he must make the very best of things as they are. It has been proved beyond dispute that every side should be led by one man, and one man only, and that it is far better to accept without a murmur any mistakes entailed by the fallibility of one man, than to introduce any form of co-operative captaincy. The captain, of course, should consult the bowler, and do all he can to work with him. But, in any case, the bowler must take everything as done for the best.He should take plenty of time between each ball and the next, because this affords him some rest, and enables him to keep on longer, and also because he has thus a better chance of thinking what he is going to do towards besieging the batsman's defence. On no account ought he to appeal unnecessarily. It is bad
F. K. SPOFFORTH, THE DEMON BOWLER.
From photo by E. Hawkins & Co., Brighton.
A bowler ought to take care not to cut up the wicket more than he can help in following through after delivering the ball. I have seen and heard of instances of such things being done with the intention of increasing the opposing batsman's difficulties. Needless to say, such practices are entirely foreign to the spirit in which the game should be played.
Nothing is more upsetting to an entire side than a bowler's loss of temper or tendency to sulk. The sulky bowler may be known by various signs. He takes a long time to get into his place in the field when not bowling; after fielding the ball, he throws it in needlessly hard, to the detriment of some one's hands, and at the risk of overthrows; if he misses the ball, he will be reluctant to run after it; often he bowls too fast and too short, and generally gives the impression that he does not care. Bowling misfortunes often test a man's temper; but he must remember that, as a mere matter of expediency, it is essential that he should keep a complete control over himself, and also that an even temper is an indispensable qualification of a good sportsman. He must show no open dissatisfaction when catches are missed off his bowling, or his analysis spoiled in other ways: first, because presumably the fieldsman has tried his best, and is still more annoyed than the bowler; secondly, because such misfortunes ought to be regarded by no individual on a side as affecting himself in particular, but as affecting the entire side. Indeed he must learn to regard himself as part of an organism for whose good as a whole he, in his sphere, is working. He is playing for his side, and not for himself When every man in an eleven fosters this spirit of mutual cohesion between himself and his comrades, the side is bound to be a good one to meet and a bad one to beat—a joy to itself and all the world besides.