THE ALL-ROUND PLAYER
■ [By A. E. Reef.] [For the Dunedin ‘Star.’—Copyright.] . There is littlo need for me to point out the value of an all-round player in the cricket field; his value to his side is plainly apparent. The difference between the all-round man and the one who specialises in a particular department of the game is to ho found here; If, say, the specialist makes a point of hatting and is no good with tho ball, then supposing—as will'happen even with tho best of batsmen—he gets out for a small score, that means that the side is carrying a passenger for the rest of the game—a player who is of very littlo use to tho side. He has had his one chance to do something, and failed. On the other hand, if tho man who can both bat and bowl fails to do anything noteworthy with tho bat, he is still of use to tho side, because in all probability he will restore the balance by doing something good when it comes his turn to do tho attacking. When the all-rounder has failed with the bat, he tries all the harder to do something to make up for the failure by a specially good performance with the ball—at least, that is my experience.
Of course tho occasion comes when even the all-rounder will fail in all his departments, but not often, and, anyway, if he has strength) in more than one department of the game, ho is clearly less liable to complete failure in a particular match than the man who has only one source of strength. —A Natural Aptitude.—
A point which has often been put to mo is whether or not any player who could play cricket at all should not bo able to make himself into an all-round player—the batsman who knows how to deal .with bowling should bo able to bowl, and the bowler who can get. wickets ought to be able to prevent other bowlers from getting his wicket. That is the way 1 have heard the matter argued. But it does not work out quite like that, A man may have a natural aptitude for bowling; he may take to one department of the game, 'but the other, for which ho has no natural aptitude, does not appeal to" him. Provided, however, a man has a liking for both tho batting and bowling departments of the game, there is no, reason why ho should not become an all-rounder. It needs practice, of course, and plenty of it, for there must be both the batting and the bowling practice, and serious attention given to it all the time. But tins, after all, is tho way all-rounders arc made—-by practice. It is the way I was made into an all-round player. When I played for Norfolk I had some sort of an ideg how to send down a passable delivery, but for the most part I was played for my batting. Still, I continued, to practise the bowling department, and I think I improved it somehow before I left Norfolk and first played for Sussex. Even then, however, I was played for my batting, and only put on to bowl as a sort of last hope—when the regular members of the attack were going through the hoop freely or when they wanted a rest for a few overs, I was given a trial with the ball.
All this time I was practising my bowling, and trying to improve my batting as well; for there is one tiling about cricket —however much you may think you know, there is always something else which may be learnt. I have been playing a year or two now, and cannot expect to go on very much longer, but I am certain that even when I have finished there will still be things about the game which I shall wish I knew more about. This is one of the charms of cricket. But wo arc sidetracking. ■—How All-rounders are Made.—
I was telling about my development as an all-rounder. I gradually; bowled more and more, a. little bit move ouch season, and my efforts were attended with a. little more success. Anyone who cares to look up the figures of the Sussex County for some years past, will see therein, very plainly, how I advanced with my bowling. .At first it was just a few wickets; then the number got over 50, and one sea eon. which I shall ever look back upon as ouo of my best years. I took 100 wickets, and have been doing it ever since.
In those early days of my bowling sucre.-,-. believe, me, 1 was a great deal more pleased about getting a low wickets than 1 was over getting 100 runs. You see, in those days i was played for my batting, and hence, when I made a fair score, I considered that I was doing only what I was played to do, but when [ got a few wickets—well, that was something over and above what was expected—hence the additional pleasure. Ana that is the beginning of the making of many allrounders.
A cricketer who is played for his) batting or his bowling ono day meets with a little success in the other department. That sets his enthusiasm going along those lines, and unless ho really sets himself out to combat it he will find the temptation to develop his new department too strong to bo resisted. For instance, I wonder if that is what Happened in the case of Tom Hayward, of Surrey. I never had the pleasure of playing against the- stalwart in his early cricket years, but I am told that he was more than a bit of a terror in the bowling line—rin fact, ho was played in the -Surrey eleven for wha-t he could do in that direction. Ono day Tom found out .that ho could bat, and bat he did—at tho practice nets and at the wicket—until ho was no longer played for his bowling, but was sent in first to bat for the county; and jioiy, if we saw Turn ■Hayward put on to bowl, we should think the Surrey captain had switched his mind back for 20 years.
A very .similar case is that of Wilfred Rhodes—played for his -bowling by Yorkshire. In his first few seasons ho gradually developed his batting, until tg-day ho is played, for England, in the first place, because he rs such a valuable man to open tho innings. Of course Rhodes can still bowl more than a bit when the wicket is the sort that suits him, but he provides a striking instance of what can bo done by perseverance and tho set determination to accomplish something. —The East Bowler.— The reader ,niay or may not have noticed that there are very lew fast howlers who can be included in tho term, allrounder. This may strike- the reader as strange, on the face of it, but after all the explanation is not so far away as one might expect. Now, fast bowlers to-day are scarce—really fast men, I am thinking of now—and hence when a county finds an express man they do not want to Jose him. But if the fast man were a. batsman, the probability is that ho would lose bis real effectiveness in bowlinpf: Naturally the fast bowler takes a lot out of himself, and unices he is as fresh as paint, when it comes his turn to bowl, then his side will not got tire value out of bis fast bowling which it is so essential they should have. But, perhaps you say, they would got extra runs. That is true, but tho number of extra runs would not bo sufficient to compensate for their best fast bowler losing some of his effectiveness. At ore than on© of tho fast bowlers we have to-day is capable of making useful scores, and you will note that in a real emergency men like Hitch, Buckenbarn, and others have done quite well with the bat, but they do not do it regularly, simply because they must_ not. Alany a 'fast bowler, going in at the tail end of the innings, is practically told by bis captain that bo is not expected to get runs, that it will be better for his aide if ho gets out quickly. But surely it may be said the scoring of 20 or 30 runs would not take all the energy out of a man, in tho best of condition. No, it would not, but what it would take out. of him in the great, majority of cases is that- little bit of extra, five—which gets tho wickets. It is not the ball bowled by the man who is a little bit tired which gets wickets, but that bonded by the man who is as fresh as can bo and can throw all his energy into every ball sent down. —A Hard Time.— This brings me to another phase of the all-round player. T have shown that fast bowlers —the men who work hardest when they are trying to get men out—do not. as a rule, take up much time, batting. But tho medium men and slow men in tlTe-
bowling line who can also bat must hay© the right sort of constitution which will stand the strain. Believe me, it is no light matter this being an all-round player; it means hard work all the season through. Think what a player like George Hirst has done for Yorkshire; think what it means to take over a hundred wickets and score over a thousand runs season after season. None but the strongest of constitutions could stand such a strain, and that incidentally is one of tho reasons why there -are not more all-round players at the present time. The all-rounder in a county side has a hard time of it. I am not grumbling, mind, because I like to think I am talcing a really active part in the game, but sometimes one cannot help the feeling that a little respite in one or other of your departments would bo welcome. In ono season I sent down a little matter of 1,222 overs—we will not worry about the odd few deliveries —and played in 58 innings. As in the latter 1 averaged about 30 runs, that would mean that in each innings I batted an hour, and in each game in addition I would send down a matter of 40 overs. Obviously no weakling could stand the strain. 1 had meant to say something about some of tho groat all-rounders of the present moment, but I find my space is nearly gone. I have, however, already mentioned Hirst and Rhodes, and to these may be added such names as Tarrant, of Middlesex, and George Thompson, of Northants. All these have been allrounders for year's, bowling and batting, while among the younger generation of all-rounders, the men who have decided that they can stand the physical strain, and who are likely to bo among tho great men of the future, are J. W. Hearne and Frank Woolley. Before tho cricketer can really lay claim to bo an all-rounder, he must bo'a fieldsman as well, although if his captain is wise he will find him a place where the actual running about will be comparatively small. I generally, field in the slips, and have taken a few catches ia my time.
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THE ALL-ROUND PLAYER, Evening Star, Issue 15702, 16 January 1915