MEN AND METHODS,
[Bj J. W, Hbabse.]
[For the Dunedin ‘Star,’ Copyright.]
Not so very long ago tho erv went up “What is the matter with cricket!” Immediately a shoal of doctors were ready to diagnose the ailment and prescribe tho remedy. Aa a matter of fact there is nothing wrong with, cricket i but one of these suggestions for improving the game comes to my mind as I sit down to write about left banders and their methods. This idea was to abolish the left hander altogether. It was held by the man who pat forth the suggestion that the left hander is a great time waster —ox is responsible for a lot of time being wasted, which for the purposes of his argument was the same thing. 1 know bowlers who would not weep if left handers had no part in the game, and I know batsmen who would be much happier if they were never called upon 'to face left-handed howlers. But, to take a much .wider view, I am quite certain that cricket would bo the loser instead of the gainer if ever the proposal came to anything, which 1 do not believe for u. moment it -Sill. If we struck out the left handers we should strike out some of the best- and most brilliant exponents of the finest game ever thought of. In return we should merely reduce the difficulties of cricket contests, and, in my opinion, the more obstacles which have to ba surmounted tho bettor the sport.
—A Deadly IK; ivory.—
A well-known captain once remarked that he should never consider a cricket side complete unless it contained at least one left-handed batsman and one left-handed bowler, and that bo should be happier still of his side contained two of each of the “wrongway round" players. 'Before going further we may look at one or two aspects of the left hander, and why, as 1 hinted above, there would he some purely selfish rejoicing if left handers were missing from our cricket contests. 'Take the left-handed batsman first.
Whoa ho comes to the wickot. what happens? In the first place, as likely' as not he putt; the bowler off his length. Many of our first class trundle rs absolutely detest the idea of bowling to a left hander. Mo matter how well they hare, been sending them down,, with, the arrival of tho left hander the sting vanishes, and the captain knows that he may just as well take the bowler off until the left hander has departed. I confess that I myself have rjp great liking for bowling to a left Jia-ncler. Ou the other hand, of coarse, there are right-handed bowlers who prefer to have a left hancley at the wicket. Schofield Haigh. for instance, would, I think, like more left handers against him. Hut he is an exception which proves the rule.
There is the other point of view, too —■ ’he right-handed batsman faced with a. left-handed bowler. Here the chief difficulty arises owing to the weird ntmle from which, the left-hander generally howls. After delivery the ball seems to be swinging on to the batsman all the time and when it pitches it does a. turn tho opposite way. That turn is the trouble." Almost every first-class leftbanded t>o\rler of to-day has* the ability to bowl this ball. It might, almost be said that he has to possess the ability to send down this deadly delivery, ere he can be considered an efficient left-hander. It is a constant source of worry, and its harvest of wickets every season must be enormous.
Even if the batsman succeeds in keeping it out of his wicket there is always the possibility that sooner or later he will miscalculate the amount of the turn and instead of getting the ball fair and square in the middle of the bat he will find it curling off the edge into the hands of one of the many fieldsmen waiting in the slips.
There is one other direction in which the left-handed batsman is an asset to his side. When a right-hander and a lefthander are together at the wicket every odd run means that the fieldsman have to change over from one side of the wicket to the other. Near the end of a tiring day it is no uncommon sight to see the fieldsmen get almost disorganised with the constant changing and chopping about, necessitated by the stay of a lefthander at the wicket. A century partViership with a left-hander at one end lakes much more oxrt of the fieldsmen than the same number of runs scored by two men who bat the “ same wav on.”
Possibly it is no more than a. passing .fancy, but' it always seams to me as though the left-hander hits a bit harder than the average right-hander. .Moreover, they have a tantalising habit of keeping the bail on the carpet all the time. When the wicket is perfect and you have of necessity to bowl almost entirely for catches, it is not very encouraging to see a, left-hander putting the ball along the turf every stroke.
One of the very best men we have for Pn is sale, all-along-the-carpet game is Philip Mead, of Hampshire. When Mead :U in form it seems almost hopeless to expect him tr. put the ball in the air. He 13 the essence of safety, and yet scores quickly all round the wicket. Along the turf tho ball 7 goes, the nms coming from the accuracy of the placing. Move your fieldsmen as you will, Mead will get the ball through, them.
—Hirst's Famous Swerve.—
It. has always seemed to me a bit of a pu?aia as to why some cricketers should bowl left- handed and bat right; but. there are a few of these to be met with,, and Yorkshire has a couple of the best in -George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes. Both these- players bat in the orthodox way, butthev bowl with tho left, and the county will bo lucky if it has not to roly upon jess efficient men. Face George iliret when tho wind is blowing across the wicket- and when he has a new ball in his fingers, and you will not bo long in realising the p(3ssibrlitio3 of the famous swerve, which is rendered all the more deadly because in addition it is bon led well round the wicket with tho left hand. You see the ball doing a sort o: temi-circle on its way to the wicket, and then, when it drops, it has a nasty sort »f habit of turning back in the opposite direction.
Although of fete Rhodes ha# not bowled ?iuite as "much as ho used to do—he more ban makes up for ft in his batting—ho ran still make the ball do a bit of talking ■when the wicket is the sort which suits him.
Writing of Rhodes switches my mind from Yorkshire to Kent for another of our left-handed bowlers. 1 refer, of conn-e, to Blythe, a. bowler who, like Rhodes, can make the bail do what he likes when the wicket is of the right stamp. I should say that on a sticky wicket Blythe is tire most “ howler I have ever faced. Moreover, it does not need, a wicket made exactlv to order for Blythe to be full of terrors to the batsman. He has such a deceptive flight, and such a way of getting the batsmen hitting out at his deliveries, that ho gets Easy victims when the pitch is nothing i& a Bowler's paradise. —Our Greatest All-round Left-hander.—
While in Kent we cannot possibly pass ever Woolley, another left-hander whom I had specially in mind when 1 wrote about left-handers bitting hard. If you have not seen Woolley at his best hitting form, then you have not A proper conception of the power - which he can put behind ids strokes, X have bowled against him and I know. Yon send up what you think ie & delivery which cannot be hit, but you probably reckon without the wonderful reach, of the lengthy man, and you have the doubtful pleasure of seeing the ball soar over the heads of the spectators and your analysis debited with 6.
But, after all. one ha* to treat the big hitters philosophically, and if I had to make trly choice I would rather bowl against a batsman who Kit mo out of tho ground than one who stood at the wicket watching every ball and declined to be tempted. It l» like this i If a batsman is hitting out, than you have a sort of feeling that he will put one into the hands of tho fieldsmen sooner or later. This, of course, is very often a fallacy, and often, too, a case of later rather than sooner. bULL, the hgpa is there.
Woolley can do more than bat ; he can he a deadly bowler, as Warwick batsmen and others found out in 1913. With Blythe at one end and Woolley at the other, were the Midlanders not sent back with a total of 16 to show as the result of their combined efforts! I think Frank Woolley can safely lay claim to be our greatest all-round left-hander.
I could go on writing about the lefthanders we have in England, but I find my space is rapidly vanishing, and no article would be complete without a reference to some of the great players Australia has ‘brought forward to fig V.it the Mother Country. Think of them, and think of the batting capabilities which the names conjure up. There is Darling in the first place—that famous captain who scored Test match centuries off tho England bowling more than once; and on his heels is Clem Hill, one of the finest batsmen it has ever been my lot to see. There is the younger school of left-handed Australians,- too —Hansford and Bardsley, for instance, the latter the only player who has ever had the audacity to score two' separate hundreds in, a Test match in which England and Australia have been concerned. Bardsley performed this feat in tho memorable match at the Oval in 1909, and any batsman might pardonably be proud of the accomplishment.
Now look back over the left-handers T have mentioned, and think of those whom I have been compelled to leave out. Then ask yourself the question whether cricket would be better if they were out of the game. Emphatically the answer is “ No. 1 ’
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LEFT-HANDERS, Evening Star, Issue 15693, 6 January 1915
LEFT-HANDERS Evening Star, Issue 15693, 6 January 1915
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