The term "bunt ball" is also used in cricket, but the meaning is different and Ogilvie's quote makes less sense with the cricketing meaning.
It means the batsman hits the ball at the ground rather than into the air, and therefore he can't be out "caught". The force of the hit is irrelevant. The term is usually used when the ball is hit hard into the ground (possibly the result of a mis-hit), bounces high, and is caught by a fielder who didn't realize the ball had hit the ground and bounced, and appeals (unsuccessfully) for the batsman to be out "caught". A deliberate and well-aimed bunt ball in cricket may go over the boundary for 4 runs before a fielder can reach it.
The cricket term for a "gentle tap," played to "steal" a run while the fielding side is running towards the wicket to retrieve the ball, is "nudging the ball" or "playing the ball with soft hands" (i.e. holding the bat relatively loosely so the ball drops to the ground rather than rebounding from it.