Indian Premier League April 12, 2010

The IPL has featured breath-taking fielding

 
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Blinders such David Hussey's involve several hours of practice © Indian Premier League
 

IPL 2010 may well be about the Mongoose, the inexplicably mammoth fines for slow over-rates, Yuvraj Singh’s incessant form-woes, Sreesanth’s daft flare-up, and other peripherals that have the tendency to become talking points. Yet, there is something about this particular season that reassures me, there is still much cricket left.

Remember that stupendous catch David Hussey took on the boundary line to dismiss Paul Collingwood? Or the one that Doug Bollinger grasped to get rid of the dangerous Yusuf Pathan? And many more such moments of brilliance that strike when you least expect them to. Yes, I am talking about fielding, the one aspect of the game that has been beyond belief during this IPL.

Both these catches were exceptional, involving presence of mind to keep the ball in play, immense core strength to come back into the field of play after stepping out, and above all a lot of practice. While some may dismiss them as flukes, I choose to give credit to the amount of practice involved. Yes, players do practice taking such catches and several other fielding moves in this day and age. While saving runs and taking catches are important in all formats, it is at times, the deciding factor in Twenty20 where the difference between a win and loss is only a few runs.

It’s not only the youngsters who’re raising the bar, seniors are also contributing equally. Remember those sparkling catches by Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid? Dada’s direct-hit to get rid of the hazardous Gautam Gambhir, a quick runner between the wickets, is certainly etched in our minds.

So what has made this turnaround on the field that has made us sit up take notice? Most teams get together only a few days prior to the tournament. There’s only so much a team can do in such a short time. With regards to batting and bowling, it’s mostly about assigning roles to individuals, for if you try to change the way someone plays, there isn’t enough time to imbibe the changes.

The only practical thing that a team can and must do is spend time on getting the fielding right. Last year, at Kolkata Knight Riders, we had spent countless hours in improving our fielding skills: in getting our throws more accurate and getting our slides perfect and even the bare basics such as calling loudly to avoid misunderstandings in the noisy match-situations. Since diving did not come naturally to a lot of players, the coaches had spread mattresses for us to jump on. We were told that at least two players should converge on every ball and try to help each other. We even practiced relay throws in case the situation demanded it. The idea was to cover all grounds with regards to fielding; indeed, every run saved, is a run scored.

Most teams are doing the same this year and the brilliance on the field is an outcome of the efforts put in the practice sessions.

Coming back to Hussey’s and Bollinger’s catches, teams have included that drill in their fielding sessions where you stand next to the rope and try to save the six or catch it, if possible. I saw Jonty Rhodes showing the fielders from Mumbai Indians how to do it. Similarly, Ponting taught us how to line ourselves up while attempting a direct hit. There’s a specific way of throwing which increases the chances of a hitting the stumps. I daresay, Dada might have picked up the basics from him. David Warner would tell his teammates how to cut the angles on the field to cover more ground and also restrict the batsman from taking that all-important extra run.

The IPL has indeed brought together an array of thinking cricketers and coaches. Their attention to detail is what makes them brilliant in specific deartments and they’re happily sharing it with others.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • What on April 12, 2010, 13:22 GMT

    baseball balls are bigger and they have gloves on, what do you guys actually mean when saying baseball fielding standards are higher..

  • kp on April 12, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    @ aps"Except Rahul none of them is famous for their athletism" r u joking????

  • Vim on April 12, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    The fielding hasn't been bad that I have noticed, but I have mainly watched Deccan matches. And at times they have looked extremely professional in the field, getting the small things right.

  • MB on April 12, 2010, 13:15 GMT

    What is Aakash talking about, I would say for every one brilliant catch that Dravid or Kumble take, they also leak a lot. I have seen the likes of Zaheer, Bhajji, and many younger Indian players who cant field well. I think they are just slow and lazy and reluctant to see fielding as a part of the game.

  • Radix on April 12, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    I think cricket's fielding skills are not given enough credit when people claim baseball is superior. I mean, when a shortstop or other baseballer is throwing to first base to get an 'out', he only needs to hit his team-mate, who can stretch as far as he likes once his foot is on the base. Many of these throws in cricket would be considered 'wayward'. No doubt, baseball fielding is excellent but the quality of fielding in cricket is equally brilliant.

  • prasad on April 12, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    the fielding in ipl matches is really good, however a lot matches are played, hence the number of dropped catched tend to appear in big number

  • Vipul on April 12, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    Hello Akash, I can perfectly imagine that KKR and indeed other teams have spent a significant portion of their practice time on the fielding aspect. Could you please throw some light on why we are yet to see those efforts translated into results? I agree, the fielding has improved but KKR was guilty of some poor fielding and yesterday, Aditya Dole just dropped RR's chance of a semis berth. I am putting this question to you as you are one of the very few who have been in the thick of things until very recently and more importantly, you can communicate your thoughts really well. Also, while we are on catching, could you please inform L Siva not to describe any catch as Kamaal catch and that we have gathered enough trivia about MRF and its blip already? They can probably choose to remain quiet when that balloon is being shown on the TV.

    Thanks, Vipul

  • Jay on April 12, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Some have criticized the comparison with baseball, but arguably one of the reasons for Australia's fine fielding standards is its use of Mike Young, a baseball fielding coach. It is imperative that fielding is regarded and rewarded on a par with bowling and batting instead of being handled in a patronizing manner. As long as batting reigns supreme,bowling is a distant second, and fielding a poor cousin, cricket will never make it in countries like the US and China where very high standards are demanded in all forms of athletic endeavour.

  • Jason Harcourt on April 12, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Spinoza is right - the Hussey catch was actually illegal under the Laws of Cricket. Having seen bits of the IPL on TV, I've generally found the standard of fielding to be pretty poor.

  • Basavraj hebbal on April 12, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Ab catch was brillient and Bolli catch to dismiss dangerous Pathan was outstanding.

  • What on April 12, 2010, 13:22 GMT

    baseball balls are bigger and they have gloves on, what do you guys actually mean when saying baseball fielding standards are higher..

  • kp on April 12, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    @ aps"Except Rahul none of them is famous for their athletism" r u joking????

  • Vim on April 12, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    The fielding hasn't been bad that I have noticed, but I have mainly watched Deccan matches. And at times they have looked extremely professional in the field, getting the small things right.

  • MB on April 12, 2010, 13:15 GMT

    What is Aakash talking about, I would say for every one brilliant catch that Dravid or Kumble take, they also leak a lot. I have seen the likes of Zaheer, Bhajji, and many younger Indian players who cant field well. I think they are just slow and lazy and reluctant to see fielding as a part of the game.

  • Radix on April 12, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    I think cricket's fielding skills are not given enough credit when people claim baseball is superior. I mean, when a shortstop or other baseballer is throwing to first base to get an 'out', he only needs to hit his team-mate, who can stretch as far as he likes once his foot is on the base. Many of these throws in cricket would be considered 'wayward'. No doubt, baseball fielding is excellent but the quality of fielding in cricket is equally brilliant.

  • prasad on April 12, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    the fielding in ipl matches is really good, however a lot matches are played, hence the number of dropped catched tend to appear in big number

  • Vipul on April 12, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    Hello Akash, I can perfectly imagine that KKR and indeed other teams have spent a significant portion of their practice time on the fielding aspect. Could you please throw some light on why we are yet to see those efforts translated into results? I agree, the fielding has improved but KKR was guilty of some poor fielding and yesterday, Aditya Dole just dropped RR's chance of a semis berth. I am putting this question to you as you are one of the very few who have been in the thick of things until very recently and more importantly, you can communicate your thoughts really well. Also, while we are on catching, could you please inform L Siva not to describe any catch as Kamaal catch and that we have gathered enough trivia about MRF and its blip already? They can probably choose to remain quiet when that balloon is being shown on the TV.

    Thanks, Vipul

  • Jay on April 12, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Some have criticized the comparison with baseball, but arguably one of the reasons for Australia's fine fielding standards is its use of Mike Young, a baseball fielding coach. It is imperative that fielding is regarded and rewarded on a par with bowling and batting instead of being handled in a patronizing manner. As long as batting reigns supreme,bowling is a distant second, and fielding a poor cousin, cricket will never make it in countries like the US and China where very high standards are demanded in all forms of athletic endeavour.

  • Jason Harcourt on April 12, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Spinoza is right - the Hussey catch was actually illegal under the Laws of Cricket. Having seen bits of the IPL on TV, I've generally found the standard of fielding to be pretty poor.

  • Basavraj hebbal on April 12, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Ab catch was brillient and Bolli catch to dismiss dangerous Pathan was outstanding.

  • aps on April 12, 2010, 10:09 GMT

    Aakash, are you joking! Fielding and catching are really bellow par in this IPL.I have seen yesterday RR loosing because of dropping SRT catch. In every match catches been dropped by most of the teams .I don’t think any of 8 teams have international standard fielding .Catching and running between d wickets is a joke in this IPL. Yes there were some movements of excellence like David Warner fielding, the catches by Hussy, Doug Bollinger and AB de Villiers but overall catching and fielding is quite pathetic in this IPL.one more thing i want to mention here that best catch award mostly taken by old Indian legends: Rahul Dravid,Tendulkar ,Sourav Ganguly Anil Kumble. Except Rahul none of them is famous for their athletism!

  • Abdullah Dadarkar on April 12, 2010, 9:43 GMT

    I agree with Akash, not entirely though. Compared to last year this season has seen better fielding throughout. Apart from catches from spectacular catches, the outfielding has also definitely improved. There are hardly any misfields, plenty of run outs resulting from good throws, and alot less drops(though some which were proved costly like Sachin being dropped last night). One only has to cast their mind back to KKR's fielding last year, absolutely atrocious. But again even with Jonty Rhodes as coach MI's fielding hasn't been OUTSTANDING. They were moderate in the field last year and they are just a little better this year. No direct throws, no cutting the twos to ones, quick pick up and release throw, nothing. One more reason why the fielding has improved is because of IPL, the Indian grounds have improved their outfields. This might be new to a few local players but they slowly but surely seem to be getting a hang of it.

  • Pradeep on April 12, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    Because the T20 format is short, batsmen take chances to hit every ball out of the park. The bowlers can get on par with batsmen only with the help of the fielders. Teams like NZ which are short on bowling and batting skills compared to India and Pakistan and they become competent due to their exceptional fielding abilities. Australia and South Africa are good in all 3 departments of the game. Their fielding makes them atleast 30 to 40 runs ahead of most of the teams all the time. The accuracy to throw down the stumps within the 30 yards makes them deadly dangerous. Exceptional skills today will become expectations tomorrow. Cricket is evolving and at a rapid pace. What's next?

  • Hari RAvi on April 12, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Please dont compare cricket with baseball. This IPL has produced breathtaking efforts on the field. Some have been to catch and dismiss batsman, some have been to save valuable runs for the team and some have been to run-out batsmen. The effort by David Hussey is unparalleled. I dont think in any game one can have such a cool head and spontanity shown by Hussey. It not only exhibits benefits of regorous training, presence of mind, but also shows the commitment of players towards the game of cricket. David has lost his contract with ACB and has to work back hard to regain the same. Which means there are so many good cricketers in Australia that people like David miss out. That is why Australia is still the best side in the world in any form of cricket.

  • sandeep on April 12, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    geez mate akash ,please dont add to the growing list of IPL Cheerleaders .. some of catches that you have mentioned are truly brillant but overall the fielding has looked like pure silly to be honest !!! No amount of hype with hyerbole commentators 12 cameras giving Different angles and different Ads can hide the real sub standard fielding on show

  • arun on April 12, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    in fact, the catching has been by and large downright poor with at least 5 simple dropped catches per match. In IPL, the standard of cricket surely leaves much to be desired and it does not even provide a decent watchable contest between bat and ball. Just which batsman will blink first...

  • karun on April 12, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    Agree with Akash! Some of the catches have been brilliant with good presence of mind. Teams have spent lot of time in practicing difficult catches. At the same time they have not spent time in practicing straight forward catches. In each match, minimum one sitter has been dropped. Direct hits of Indian fielders has improved and many are diving to stop the ball.

  • Adam on April 12, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    Seriously? Yes there have been a few truly great catches but most of the general fielding has been absolutely abysmal. With such talent on show you'd expect a few great catches considering the number of games played (although granted, De Villiers' catch was something else), but the basics have been horrendous in most games. The other day, I saw three misfields in the space of five balls, and one of those was a wide

  • indrakolla on April 12, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    Those catches are taken by international players and we have seen some pretty ordinary fielding,seen sitters dropped ,the quality has improved but not immensely as commented by AChopra

  • Spinoza on April 12, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    But were they really catches? Don't you have to stay within the field of play throughout the act of taking the catch? Law 32 seems to be clear on this, but noone seems to have noticed!

  • Udit on April 12, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Yes while the fielding has been amazing at times and patchy otherwise, comparing cricket with baseball is unfair. The standards in baseball are undoubtedly higher, but that's because that is one of the 2 major components in baseball, and some would argue even bigger than batting. In cricket there are lengthier innings a batsmen needs to develop and the bowling component does not rely on a sole "pitcher". Since baseball has a much bigger focus on fielding, the comparison is inappropriate.

  • Jay on April 12, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    There have been a few outstanding plays like Bollinger's and De Villiers' catches but by and large the fielding has been quite patchy. There is absolutely no comparison with the brilliant fielding and throwing standards in baseball, even allowing for the fact that baseballers use mitts. on one hand.

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  • Jay on April 12, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    There have been a few outstanding plays like Bollinger's and De Villiers' catches but by and large the fielding has been quite patchy. There is absolutely no comparison with the brilliant fielding and throwing standards in baseball, even allowing for the fact that baseballers use mitts. on one hand.

  • Udit on April 12, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Yes while the fielding has been amazing at times and patchy otherwise, comparing cricket with baseball is unfair. The standards in baseball are undoubtedly higher, but that's because that is one of the 2 major components in baseball, and some would argue even bigger than batting. In cricket there are lengthier innings a batsmen needs to develop and the bowling component does not rely on a sole "pitcher". Since baseball has a much bigger focus on fielding, the comparison is inappropriate.

  • Spinoza on April 12, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    But were they really catches? Don't you have to stay within the field of play throughout the act of taking the catch? Law 32 seems to be clear on this, but noone seems to have noticed!

  • indrakolla on April 12, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    Those catches are taken by international players and we have seen some pretty ordinary fielding,seen sitters dropped ,the quality has improved but not immensely as commented by AChopra

  • Adam on April 12, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    Seriously? Yes there have been a few truly great catches but most of the general fielding has been absolutely abysmal. With such talent on show you'd expect a few great catches considering the number of games played (although granted, De Villiers' catch was something else), but the basics have been horrendous in most games. The other day, I saw three misfields in the space of five balls, and one of those was a wide

  • karun on April 12, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    Agree with Akash! Some of the catches have been brilliant with good presence of mind. Teams have spent lot of time in practicing difficult catches. At the same time they have not spent time in practicing straight forward catches. In each match, minimum one sitter has been dropped. Direct hits of Indian fielders has improved and many are diving to stop the ball.

  • arun on April 12, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    in fact, the catching has been by and large downright poor with at least 5 simple dropped catches per match. In IPL, the standard of cricket surely leaves much to be desired and it does not even provide a decent watchable contest between bat and ball. Just which batsman will blink first...

  • sandeep on April 12, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    geez mate akash ,please dont add to the growing list of IPL Cheerleaders .. some of catches that you have mentioned are truly brillant but overall the fielding has looked like pure silly to be honest !!! No amount of hype with hyerbole commentators 12 cameras giving Different angles and different Ads can hide the real sub standard fielding on show

  • Hari RAvi on April 12, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Please dont compare cricket with baseball. This IPL has produced breathtaking efforts on the field. Some have been to catch and dismiss batsman, some have been to save valuable runs for the team and some have been to run-out batsmen. The effort by David Hussey is unparalleled. I dont think in any game one can have such a cool head and spontanity shown by Hussey. It not only exhibits benefits of regorous training, presence of mind, but also shows the commitment of players towards the game of cricket. David has lost his contract with ACB and has to work back hard to regain the same. Which means there are so many good cricketers in Australia that people like David miss out. That is why Australia is still the best side in the world in any form of cricket.

  • Pradeep on April 12, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    Because the T20 format is short, batsmen take chances to hit every ball out of the park. The bowlers can get on par with batsmen only with the help of the fielders. Teams like NZ which are short on bowling and batting skills compared to India and Pakistan and they become competent due to their exceptional fielding abilities. Australia and South Africa are good in all 3 departments of the game. Their fielding makes them atleast 30 to 40 runs ahead of most of the teams all the time. The accuracy to throw down the stumps within the 30 yards makes them deadly dangerous. Exceptional skills today will become expectations tomorrow. Cricket is evolving and at a rapid pace. What's next?