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Cricket

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Wherever Englishmen plant the Union Jack they are sure to set up the wickets as well. Other European nations have never taken kindly to the game, but the natives of many of the lands we have occupied have soon learned to appreciate its merits. In Samoa legislation has interfered to limit the pursuit of the game ; in Fiji it is thoroughly acclimatised ; some years ago a team of Australian aborigines-not in any way to be confounded with the crack Colonial elevens-visited England ; a Zulu is said to be one of the best bowlers in South Africa ; the Parsecs of India have sent-and are eager to send once more-a team to try conclusions with us; and, finally, the crack bat of 1896 was an Indian prince. It is needless to add that Englishmen settled abroad have in no way shown themselves more English than in their enthusiasm for the national game, and the Australians in particular have proved that they are well able, if not to beat the best English sides, at least to make the most imperative demands on all their skill and resource.

The original popularity of the game was no doubt due to the amateurs who devoted them-selves to its practice and extension ; but it was only natural in the process of events that another class should spring up, consisting of men who have a large ability for the game, but neither the spare time nor the spare money necessary for its cultivation ; and, as the keenness between counties and clubs increased, the paid services of this class were enlisted, till professional cricketers became the backbone of the game ; and it is not too much to say that thousands of men are now earning a livelihood by means of cricket.

The Cricket Ground-The first requisite for the game is a place to play it on-a smooth and level sheet of grass. The match-inclosure varies in size, eight acres making a large ground and four acres a very small one ; the shape is immaterial, though a circle, oval, square, or a broad oblong is the best ; a long narrow strip is not very suitable. The turf requires most careful tendance, and should be firm and close, but not too close ; coarse grass makes a very poor ground, and a spongy turf, with thick matted grass-roots, is not satisfactory. To keep the turf in order incessant rolling and mowing are necessary throughout the summer and early spring ; weeds of every kind must be carefully eradicated, and the holes and bare places caused by the wear and tear of the game should be filled up as soon as a match is over. A well-appointed ground should be provided with two rollers, a heavy one of, say, about a ton or a ton and a half, and a lighter one of from 10 to 15 cwt. ; the heavy one is for use when the ground is hard, and in the early spring, when the turf is soft but dry ; on saturated turf a heavy roller is worse than useless, as it squeezes up the moisture to the surface. It is of course essential that a man should be kept whose business it is to look after the turf, the ground, and its accessories. The chief of these last is the pavilion, which should contain a members' room (large enough to hold a table at which at least twenty-five can have lunch at once), from which the game can be watched. Two dressing-rooms are also necessary, with lavatory accommodation. A bath is a pleasant luxury, but not a necessity. In front of the pavilion should be an inclosure, reserved for players, members, and their friends, while, in large clubs, seats are often provided on the pavilion roof. A private room should be reserved for the scorers, either in the pavilion or on some other part of the ground whence a perfect view of the game can be obtained, and special provision should be made for the "press " on any ground where first-class matches are likely to be played. Finally, the pavilion should, when possible, be built behind the line of the wickets. Two white screens should be provided, to be set up behind the bowler's arm so as to give the batsman a good sight of the ball ; if these are made of wood and set on wheels, they can be shifted about when necessary ; in this case they may be about 20 ft. long by 12 or 15 ft. high. If the screens are of canvas and reerected for each match, 30 ft. would hardly be too long. Seats should be provided for the spectators, who are never allowed to intrude on the match-inclosure during the progress of the game. Water must be laid on, to be used in the preparation of the wicket, to which it is conducted by a long hose. A good lawn-mower is also essential, and a " telegraph," i.e., a black board raised on a stand, to which white figures can be attached to show the progress of the game, which is done in three lines of figures ; thus 75 3 19 would indicate in the top line that the batting side had scored in all 75 "runs," in the second that 3 men were "out," in the third that the last man " out " had scored 19 " runs." Two such boards are useful on a large ground, but one must always be close to the scorer's room or box. The figures on the top line are altered whenever ten runs are made, except when a man is " out ", when the exact aggregate is posted. On large grounds a more elaborate system of " telegraphing " is adopted, and it may be added that the Australian system is somewhat different from the English, as the full score of each man and the analysis of the bowling is shown. At the side of the match-inclosure, part of the turf should be reserved for practice, and should be as carefully tended as the inclosure itself. Nets, the higher the better, are required for practice, and two long white coats should be provided for the umpires.

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