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THE BATSMAN I SEE HIM., Issue 15677, 16 December 1914
THE BATSMAN I SEE HIM.
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[By S. F. Babxes.] As 1 sit down to write of the faults sometimes met with in batemen, I wonder if it will bo considered necessary for me to justifv the choice of subject. Somebody may be inclined to point out that I liave more cf a reputation as a bowler than as a batsman. That may bo true, but the fact does not seem to me a fatal objection. It must be remembered that of all people the bowler is in the very best position for noting the mistakes made by batsmen in general. He studies their weaknesses, for it is to his. advantage that he should know the kind of deliveries which are most likely to catch them napping. He sees their" faults, and plays tip to thcte faults as hard as he can—that is the way he does his share towards winning matches for his side. So that is my excuse for writing of mistakes of bats•nen, and if you wish we will call it mistakes of batsmen as seen by the bowler. —Watching the. Ball.— In the first place. I think perhaps the meet common mistake cf all which batsmen in the early stages of their career make is not properly watching the ball. They do not keep their eyes on it the whole of the time after it leaves the bowler's hand. When it is' coming through the air thev sort of make up their minds just what kind of delivery it is going to be. and decide their stroke accordingly, without keeping a watchful eye for the effect of any twi6t or break which the bowler may have imparted. Most people* hav« heard of the " blind spot"' to a batsman, and it is this blind spot which the bowler likes to iind; but there is no reason why every ball should be made into a blind-spot sort of ball for the batsman., and that is what, it become? with the players who do not watch, carefully the flight of the hall. They see it :oming. and just jab and trust to luck. Now, there should bo little of this trust-to-luck business about cricket, although I must admit that on some sorts of wicket? —when the ball will not do ;mythihg you want it to—there is little el.-e tor the bowler to do except just send them down and hope the batsman will get himself out. • Watch the ball from the pitch, and irateh the bowler closely tuo. These are nne mottoes for the Batsman. By the latter bit of advice I do not suggest that any batsman, whether young or old, would bo*looking somewhere else when the bowler was in "the act of sending the ball down. But watching the bowler means much more than, looking in his direction. It means watching for the change of delivery —whether the "ball is to be a bit faster or slower thtu the one which preceded it; whether the twist is being greater or less. Of course, many bowlers are eljver enough to disguise any change which they may contemplate, but" on tb> other hand, there are changes made which the batsman could plainly see. After all, one of the great secrete—in fact I might almost ?ay the only secret —of the success of the googlie howlers is that they are able to change the stylo of their delivery without letting tho batsman into the secret of whether it is going to be an off break or a leg break, unless they are watched very closely indeed. But even with the googlie man "the batsman is able to distinguish the difference if he gives his whole attention to the bowler. Again this, close observation is useful and iftcessary in other directions. Many a batsman, for instance, has been caught out because he did uot realise that the field had been changed—he had taken the situation of the fieldsmen for granted. These, then, are the things to look out for—any change which may be detected In the delivery of the ball and any change in the field. —A Fatal Fault.— Sometimes when I have taken a busnan's holiday and watched some young 'players at cricket I have been struck with .ho" number of times wbon it is plainly obvious that tho batsman has made up his mind just what to do with the ball without seeing what kind of a delivery it was. And although this fault is mostly seen when watching the young batsman, it is by no means unknown among those of wider experience. If he does not watch —well, there is trouble in store. The ball which comes down he imagines is an off break, but it is nothing of the kind, and when he ha« lost his wicket he may have learned wisdom. I know there is a temptation for the bateman to do this, and. if I may make » confession. I have more tha.n once lost my wicket in this way myself. This is how it happens. You" have been doing nothing with the bowling, perhaps—just being content to stop ball after ball, simply because it has not been the sort of bowling from which runs could be scored easily. At last you have tired of this inaetivity, ami you say to yourself: "Well, here goes. I am going to score off tho next one—knock it out of tho field." Now as likely as not it has been a. ball which was less adapted for knocking outof the field than any you have had in the course of your innings, and that delivery has been the downfall of the batsman. So do not make up your mind what you ire going to do with the ball until you >ee what kind of ball it is—that is a fatal fault. On the other hand, tho batsman should decido quickly once he does see what sort of a ball it is w'hich is coming down. I once heard it said that the difference between the moderate ar.d the brilliant batsman was the difference in tho time in which he was able to sum up a delivery. This, of course, means a quick eye. The sooner the batsman can be quite eure of the coming ball, the more time will he have for making a perfect aud safe fctroke. —The Stand at the Wicket.— But I find I am running away with myself. Perhaps I should have commenced this article by telling about tho stand at the wicket, w'hich is, after all, a most important part of the batsman's business, and one in which it is easy to get wrong. There is, however, no hard-and-fast rule •which can be laid down as to tho holding of th© bat and the position of tho feet; each player must trast his own instinct for that. lam certain, however, that it is itot advisable for the batsman to cultivate a freak stand, if I may term it so. Freedom of every action is the thing most to be aimed at in taking up the stand at the wicket; a stand which will enable the batsman to mako all sorts of strokes, to the off or to the on, with comparative ease, is the best. Many batsmen have a cramped style, which absolutely bars them from making certain strokes. When the batsman has taken up his stand, he should stick to it; how very necessary such advice is will be realised by all players who have teen youngsters at work with the bat. One of the biggest, mistakes which is made by young batsmen is to move away from the ball. You will see the straight, or nearly straight, deliver coming down, and the right leg—of tho right-handed batsman, of course—will ta immediately drawn away from the wicket. This means in the first place that it is well nigh impossible to play with a straight bat when the ball reaches the batsman, and, moreover, that he is more or less off his ance.Asa very Srsfcrule of batting it might be laid down that the right leg should never be moved in the direction of tho umpire at your end cf the pitch. The batsman may move it across the other way in making a late cut, or he may bring it forward •when he jumps out to drive, but it is an error to get into the habit of moving it away from the wicket. The batsman must remember, too. that so long as he keeps that right leg in its place he is not «oing to be stumped out, hut that whsn he Efts it up thwe is alwayt rh»t possibility—proTid»d, of eoune, tli«A ha mivt** th* ball. Abcm 1 twsd. th* word* "straight bit," aaid ih*t reminds m« that tnothar golden nil* of the gam* is to play as many strokes as possible with the bat straight., and with the handle pushed forward.. When the bat is placed across the wicket it is loss of » goardTamd whew the bottom of the bat la pushed out further than the top to meet the oncoming ball it means that as likely as not the least stroke will send tho fesJl into the air.
—Getting Runs.— Running between the wicket is another important phase of th© gam© which batsmen, young and old, overlook. They should*Jcarn that when the ball is played behind the ■wicket it is their partner's call I —not waste time turning round to look where the ball has gone. The possibilities in tho direction of studying and understanding your partner in this matter of ruuniug' "between the wickets can well be appreciated by watching Rhodes and Hobbs—th* two mon who haw done such groat deed? opening the innings for .England. Tho understanding between them *is perfect, and tho result is that they get many more runs than they would if they had net complete confidence in each other. I have seen them mnke runs time after tim-a from strokes which other batsmen would have allowed to pass as unprofitable, and only once hare I seen either of thorn rnn out in attempting short runs. Thc.ro are many other points which 1 could mention in regard to this matter of faults in batsmen, but my space is gone. With iny last word I shonld like to say that in my opinion it is a fault in a. batsman to imagine ho knows all there is to know about the game. As. a matter of fact, bo should be for ever learning—perfecting the strokes ho already knows, and ever on the look-oat to acguiro new ones. One nf the beauties of the game of eriikrt is that ono can always be learning' something new connected with it. This upplies to every department of the g-ame. (To be continued.)
THE BATSMAN I SEE HIM., Issue 15677, 16 December 1914
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