How to develop your fielding skills in cricket
Saving runs for the team and affecting run outs are two key ways that fielding affects the game of cricket. This part of the game is often overlooked but it plays a critical part in a team’s success. In this article, we will be looking at the top 5 best fielding tips in cricket and how they can help you improve your overall game.
There is, of course, no substitution for practice and so we haven’t included that as a specific skill but rather chosen more subtle ideas that should be used instead.
5. Practice forming a long barrier
Ever felt like Holly Ferling is feeling in the picture above? She dived in vain but the ball eluded her grasp. Now, this ball may have been difficult to field, due to the distance that it probably was away from her.
But, the point still stands. Ideally, fielders should form a long barrier with their feet, in order to stop the ball in its tracks. What this does is it creates a significantly larger surface area than if a fielder just bends down and aims to pick up the ball, when it is running at speed, like any normal individual would.
A long barrier also has added protection, in that your body is the second line of defense to neutralise the ball, should it bounce more than expected. The fielder should bend both knees and form a “barrier” shape with one of the legs to stop the ball, while the other leg will stabilise the movement. There is no need to worry about it when fielding because the shape of the barrier will come naturally through muscle memory, if you put enough practice into it.
Practice forming a long barrier is number five on our list of “Best fielding tips in cricket.”
4. Practice backing up teammates
There is no way that you can know for sure if your teammates will stop the ball or not, especially if they do not perform the long barrier technique as mentioned in the previous part. But, you can still bail them out by backing them up in the field.
In club cricket, a lot of games are played with the Dukes Ball and there is usually 40-50 overs per side. As a result, there is more of a Test match style field set, which allows fielders to be grouped in certain areas of the ground.
If you happen to be fielding in one of those areas, make sure that you run with the fielder at the same time. This way, if they make a mistake or are slower than you to field the ball, you can help them out and save runs for your team.
Practice backing up teammates is number four on our list of “Best fielding tips in cricket.”
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3. Aim to throw the ball into the recipients’ hands
Unless you are following a specific strategy, in which you are trying to scuff up one side of the ball, so that it reverses, there is no need to throw the ball on the ground, when fielding. In fact, the best area to aim for if you are throwing to the wicket keeper, is their gloves. This gives them the maximum time required to run the batsmen out.
Those who tend to have strong throwing arms should ideally field on the boundary, so that they can easily retrieve the ball back in time. But, this also depends on other factors, such as the strength of their high catching on the boundary and so it may not be guaranteed. Nevertheless, in practice you should always aim to throw the ball into the recipients’ hands.
Throwing the ball correctly is number three on our list of “Best fielding tips in cricket.”
2. Train hitting the stumps
They don’t lie when they say “Practice makes perfect.”
Cricket is no different from anything else. How you want to perform in a game should be replicated in training to train muscle memory. Ideally, you’d want your training to be tougher than the actual game.
Hitting the stumps multiple times in training helps improve your natural accuracy because your arm gets used to the angle required to hit the stumps. If you’d like to make it harder to throw from side-on, to replicate fielding situations. Or, you could use only one stump to make it very tough.
Training to hit the stumps is number two on our list of “Best fielding tips in cricket.”
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1. Be alert at all times
The most important and the most underrated aspect of fielding is how alert a fielder is. Nothing comes close to this factor. You can train all you want and be as good as you want but if you don’t react in time, then the chances of affecting the game are minimal in the field.
For example, the short leg fielder has probably the toughest job, in terms of saving themselves from being smashed by the batsman and attempting to catch the ball at the same time. At slip, edges often fly. The likes of Ben Stokes and Ajinkya Rahane have mastered such an art.
Being alert at all times is the most important fielding tip in cricket to save runs and affect run outs.
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