The score is the real criterion of a batsman, and if he be not competent to make runs, however difficult it may be to get his wicket, I must at once pronounce him no cricketer - mere poking around the block-hole is not cricket - it is a mere waste of time.
Defense is the first consideration of a batsman, but it is so only that he may get opportunities for hitting.
The first point in hitting is to insure the flight of the ball from that part of the bat which will propel it farthest. This is called 'the drive,' and lies about five inches from the point of the bat, varying slightly according to the weight and make of each bat, but very easily discoverable by experiment.
The next thing is to time the hit so as to catch the ball just as the bat is moving at its greatest velocity, and this can only be done by hitting as late as possible, not with a heavy dead swing of the bat, like the sway of a sack, but with a sharp rapid action, as though wielding a switch.
In striking a ball as it passes, i.e., from an erect position, the whole power of the hit comes from the swing of the bat; but in forward hitting from the position of forward play, the main power is derived from a sudden thrust of the right arm and shoulder, meeting the ball just as in shoulder-hitting, in boxing.
The most forcible shoulder-hitters rise slightly upon the toes to gain more height, and then drop forward from the vantage ground thus formed with all the force and impetus of their body to back up the mere muscular action of their arms.
Hitting may be roughly divided under two heads, ground-hitting and sky-hitting.
The latter, especially from a half-volley, that is a ball picked up just as it rises from the ground, is the most alluring to batsmen, and most appreciated by the unscientific spectators; but a low skimming hit, the ball flying about three or four inches from the ground, is the safest, as not being liable to be caught, the most difficult to stop, and the most telling on the score.
An habitual sky-hitter is a man of short scores.
Bad fielding and bowling may, if he have a good eye, give him an occasional run of luck, but with real players his run of life - in the cricket sense - will be very short. I should strongly advise the beginner sternly to deny himself during practice hours the indubitable pleasure of high hitting.
A habit formed at practice is very apt to lead one astray in a match, and one mistake may be fatal; high hitting, too, requires no practice: if a man can make the other hits he wants no tuition to enable him to punish an occasional loose ball by lifting it over the heads of the outfielders. Space forbids my following in detail 'the various hits upon the ball.' the Following diagram will show the position and name of each hit, and I must content myself with very slender directions for their due acquirement.
Slip is made by allowing a ball on, or a little wide of, the off stump to glance from the edge of the bat, care being taken, in this hit and in all others, to keep the ball down, or 'caught out' will be the result. If the ball be two or three inches wide, and near the ground, it may be sent with considerable velocity between the lines marked for the slip and the cut, by dropping the bat on it sharply just as it is passing the wicket, the later the better. This is done by a sharp, quick action of the wrist, and a down drop of the shoulders. It is technically termed 'snicking' which word I must use for want of a better.
The Cut proper is made by hitting a high rising ball with a horizontal bat, just as it reaches the wicket. Another form of the cut is made off a lower ball, and with an upright bat - it is not so brilliant a hit as the cut proper, nor so effective, but it is far safer, the attitude in the cut proper making it quite impossible to stop a shorter or keep out a breaking ball - i.e., one that pitches wide of the off-stump and turns into the wicket. The other hits, until we come to square-leg, are not so peculiar as to require a special description.
Square Leg may be made either by playing forward as before directed, upon a ball slightly wide of the leg-stump, which will then fly off square to leg, or by the Cambridge poke, which is very useful for a high rising ball on the leg-stump.
Draw. By which a ball is allowed to glance off the bat to leg, is useful with balls like the preceding, but difficult to meet forward. The attitude is the same as in back play.
Leg Hit. Very useful against loose bowling. It is best made by stepping slightly forward with the left foot to an over-pitched leg-ball and hitting square to leg; the combination of the two forces, the original impetus of the ball, and the fresh impetus imparted by the bat, will carry it in the direction of leg. A hit is sometimes made by reaching forward to a short-pitched ball, and swiping across, the bat pointed to the pitch. This is all very well, if successful, but the least deviation of the ball may either take it past the bat, or more disastrous still, send it skying into the air off the edge; it is, therefore, not to be commended to the novice. There is a further modification of the leg hit, occasionally of some service. The left foot is made to describe a semicircle round and in the rear of the right, and the body is faced round nearly to square-leg. This hit is employed by a few to pick up leg-shooters - it enables the batsman to hit them along the ground to leg with considerable force. The hit must be as late as possible to the effective.
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