Fielding - The Fundamentals
Cricketing maxims like "Catches win matches" and "A
run saved is a run gained", sum up the significance
of one of the most important departments of the
Richie Benaud defines 'fielding' as the underrated,
unglamorous, third department of cricket that
cannot be measured in the scorebook in the same way
as runs and wickets. The great Don Bradman, who
understood the importance of good fielding, aptly
wrote that if there is one department in cricket in
which sheer natural ability is self-evident, it is
fielding. Unfortunately, too many players regard
fielding as a necessary chore instead of an art in
itself. However, things are changing.
The advent of one-day cricket has seen a tremendous
improvement in fielding standards. The breathtaking
catches and stops made by the likes of Jonty Rhodes
and Mohammed Azharuddin were as spectacular as a
magnificent shot played by a class batsman. In
recent times, cricket-lovers have had the fortune
of watching Herschelle Gibbs, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj
Singh and Ricky Ponting, all of whom exude fun and
a vibrant attitude while fielding that not only
lifts the other members of the team, but also
thrills the spectators.
An old saying is that the side that does not drop a
catch does not lose a match. While this is not
entirely true, there is a lot of common sense
behind the remark. The immediate examples that come
to mind are the dropped catch of Steve Waugh by
Gibbs in a crucial Super Six game in the 1999 World
Cup, and the wonderful catches that Tendulkar and
Kaif held off Inzamam-ul-haq and Shoaib Malik
respectively in the recent series against Pakistan.
These catches had a bearing on the result of the
With men like Gibbs, Ponting and Yuvraj leading the
way, it can be safely said that future of fielding
is in good hands.
Fielding can be divided into three distinct
'types'. Needless to say, a proficiency in all
three 'types' is critical for a team's success.
'Specialists' should occupy the positions close to
the wicket. These will be fielders whose reflexes,
anticipation and 'fast hands' enable them to snap
up deflections others would miss. To field in the
slips, gully, silly mid-on, silly mid-off, short
fine leg and silly leg, the correct posture is
needed. Stand with your palms only a few inches
apart, ready to catch. In this fielding 'type', as
in the other two, it is vital to be able to think
on your feet, quite literally! The weight should be
evenly distributed between your legs so that you
can move to the right or left quickly, and the
knees bent enough for you to get down near the
probable line of the ball. 'Close-in' specialists
have this knack of anticipating a catch earlier
than their colleagues who specialize in the
outfield. When they have to make ground to reach a
catch, they are on the move before the ball meets
the bat, having sensed that it will find the edge
and judged the direction in which it would fly.
Positions such as mid-off, cover, mid-on and
square-leg that are around twenty yards away from
the bat, demand fieldsmen who are capable of making
smart pick-ups and fast, accurate throws. They can,
by darting swiftly towards the ball as soon as it
is played in their area, cause many run-outs.
Players who field close to the boundary should have
a smooth pick-up, a strong throwing arm and the
ability to run fast to cut off boundaries.
Other important tips to improve one's fielding are:
One must learn to stop the ball properly.
It may arrive slow or fast, to the left or right,
or straight. The first objective is to get behind
the path of the ball & stop it with both hands.
If the ball is traveling fast and wide,
there will be occasions when one cannot get both
hands to it. There is nothing wrong with one-handed
stops, but this method should be employed only when
it is impossible to get behind the ball with both
A useful tip to remember, particularly when
fielding square to the wicket, is that the ball
will curve away as it speeds along the grass. At
all times while fielding, it is necessary to watch
the ball right into your hands.
When the bowler starts his run-up, the
outfielders should be 'on the move', walking
briskly towards the striker. This initial movement
increases the chances of reaching the ball faster,
than if one had been standing still when the ball
was bowled. The best fielders always walk towards
the batsman, no matter how hard the latter is
likely to strike the ball.
While walking in, the fielder should focus
his eyes on the bat, for this will give him an
advance warning of the direction of the stroke. The
speed of picking up and throwing in one motion is
the essence of a good fielder, always remembering
to keep one's eyes on the ball.
Looking regularly at the captain, for
sometimes a last-minute adjustment is a
pre-requisite and important habit to cultivate.
There is one golden rule for fielding in
the slips - Do not try to anticipate.
Alertness is the key to good fielding and
the lack of it has been the cause of many a team's
Fitness is hugely important & lack of
conditions is more noticeable in the field than
anywhere else. Training is a must to acquire
flexibility & strength. Each one should have a set
regime, as no two bodies are similar.
Dismiss from your mind any thoughts that
fielding is drudgery. It can be a great deal of fun
and could make a vital difference to the fortunes
of your team.
Lastly - Enjoy fielding! There isn't a more
effective way in which to become a good fielder!