Fielding in the slips - Other key aspects
The only thing 'certain' for a slip-fielder is
'uncertainty'. A slip-fielder should stand
comfortably, the feet placed apart, and the knees a
little bent for quick movement. The fielder should
try and keep the body and muscles relaxed. A torso
that is tense can be the disastrous, and at times,
can cause injury or muscle pulls.
Rahul Dravid, arguably the best slip fielder in the
world, takes a beauty to dismiss Jason Gillespie
One of the most important aspects that is often
ignored for reasons of fashion, is the clothing.
Wearing attire that is comfortable rather than
donning stuff that is more stylish albeit tighter,
is an absolute must. A tight-fitting or badly cut
trouser or shirt can hinder easy movement, and this
in turn can lead to an awful display of fielding.
If the fielder is unable to move quickly, then
things can get really embarrassing for him.
Another extremely challenging position in the field
is 'leg-slip'. This particular position comes into
play most often in Asian countries, which have an
abundance of 'wristy' batsmen.
This position has lost a bit of eminence with the
new theory of bowling on one side of the wicket and
the strict interpretation of the 'wide-ball' rule
to deliveries bowled down the leg-side, especially
in one-day internationals. Added to that is the
modern-day protective equipment that allows batsmen
the luxury of taking blows on their body rather
than fending for survival.
The slip-fielders on the off side have the
advantage of watching the batsman's bat as well as
the bowler, whereas a fielder standing at leg-slip
has no option but to look in the direction of the
batsman, and rely on his reflexes, agility and of
Leg-slip is synonymous with some terrific catches,
which the fielder has clasped off a fast bowler or
a spinner. One remembers the catch taken by the
substitute Hemang Badani to dismiss Steve Waugh in
the second innings of the historic Kolkata Test of
2000-01. Had Badani hot held that difficult chance,
Australia might well have drawn the game easily.
Of the seven catches that I took to achieve the
world record on my Test debut against England at
Bangalore in 1976-77, the one I treasure most is
the chance I held at leg-slip. The batsman was
Dennis Amiss and the bowler Karsan Ghavri. The
bat-pad catch that came my way had me diving
full-length forward. I still cannot understand how
the ball that seemed far away, rested on the edge
of my fingers without spilling. The thrill of
clinging onto half-chances like that is what makes
life as a fielder worth living!
On the other hand, I can never forget the catch
that I dropped of Allan Border off Kapil Dev at
leg-slip in the 1979-80 series. Sunil Gavaskar, our
captain, had watched the young Border in action and
devised a plan to get him out in the leg-trap off
Kapil's wonderful inswinger to the left-hander. We
decided that in the first over that he faced off
Kapil, the fourth ball should tempt him to play his
favourite flick. Kapil bowled the first three
deliveries outside the off-stump, and the plan was
on. A signal was made, and there I was, waiting for
Border to fall for the bait. Well, believe it or
not, he did exactly that and I saw the ball come
quickly, but straight at my chest. I made the
cardinal sin of getting over-excited, and in my
hurry to snatch at the ball, it bounced out of my
palms! Border went on to make a superb 162, his
first hundred in his first Test on Indian soil,
while I just stood there, reminiscing my error.
Undoubtedly, the 'glorious uncertainties' of the
great game of cricket are more pronounced in the
slips than anywhere else.