England v India, 3rd ODI, Edgbaston

Can't catch, can't field

India's fielding fell to pieces at the Rose Bowl, splintered to bits at Bristol before grinding to powder here at Edgbaston

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan at Edgbaston

August 27, 2007

Text size: A | A



It's just not an Indian thing to do smart catches. The simpler they come the more likely you are to see a fielder misjudge, overrun or miscalculate the skier © AFP
Enlarge

The series sponsors, Natwest, had set up a stall at the ground called Extreme Catching to get spectators to feel what it is like to field in international cricket. The game requires the participant to stand in a trampoline cage and face a small bowling machine to try and grab tennis balls fired in different directions. Hopefully someone in the Indian coaching staff has taken note, for they need to acquire the equipment if they wish to understand how to field at this level.

India's fielding fell to pieces at the Rose Bowl, splintered to bits at Bristol before grinding to powder here at Edgbaston. In comparison, England were a solid block of wall. If, according to Rahul Dravid, England are fielding "beautifully", India have rarely been sloppier.

The game turned England's way when Matt Prior pulled off a sharp catch to get rid of Sourav Ganguly and it effectively ended when Ian Bell ran out Yuvraj Singh. England were sharp, athletic and intense. India seem to treat the stumps like holy shrines, never to be touched, let alone hit.

To make matters worse, there are Indians who make straight catches look hard. The simpler they are, the more likely you are to see a fielder misjudge, overrun or miscalculate the catch. RP Singh made a mess of an Alastair Cook skier at fine leg, just as Ramesh Powar did at third man the other day. A team cannot expect to win consistently unless such catches are regularly converted.

As a fielding side, England have improved gradually and are now at a position where their captain feels they "stop 20-30 runs on the field". Kevin Pietersen prowls at mid-off, diving around and stopping singles; his Indian counterpart in that position is the magnificently unathletic Munaf Patel. Standing in the deep, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett land the ball in the keeper's gloves while Indian's out-fielders struggle to clear the inner circle.

And then there is Dinesh Karthik. Supposed to one of the better in-fielders, his performance so far has been high on theatrics and low on results. He gives the impression of being energetic, but his slides are mostly unnecessary. He makes spectacularly vain attempts to cut off what he can't, and makes a mess of simple saves.

At a conservative estimate India concede 40 runs while fielding. Add to that the runs English batsmen score after being reprieved (Cook made 25 more after he was dropped while Owais Shah got seven after Dhoni failed to stump him).

And then there is Dinesh Karthik. Supposed to one of the better in-fielders, his performance so far has been high on theatrics and low on results. He gives the impression of being energetic, but his slides are mostly unnecessary

And what about the runs lost owing to their poor running between the wickets? England's batsmen are well into their stride even before the ball is bowled; India's batsmen, especially Sourav Ganguly, are sluggish and poor at calling. Replays showed that at the top of the bowler's run-up Cook-the-non-striker had backed up at least two yards, while Ganguly, in the same position, had his bat firmly stuck behind the crease.

Dravid was frank in his assessment. "We are getting some good knocks and some of our bowlers are bowling well, but they are out-fielding us. Sometimes good fielders can make bowlers look better than they really are."

The facts are simple. Indians can't throw long, can't slide and can't hit the stumps. They often grass catches, concede overthrows and make a mockery of themselves in trying to stop a cricket ball. Their running between the wickets continues to be ponderous.

With four matches to go, there's still plenty of fun to be had. In 1948 spectators filled these stadiums to watch the Invincibles and now they watch the Indians making the ball seem Unstoppable.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Siddhartha VaidyanathanClose

    'A test of Kohli's mental strength'

Bowl at Boycs: Geoffrey Boycott on Kohli's recent form, and Cook's captaincy

    Kallis: a standard-bearer for a nation

Mark Nicholas: He made South Africans proud and he made the rest of the world stand up and take notice

    'Like a ballet dancer'

My XI: Martin Crowe on Mark Waugh's lazy elegance and batsmanship that was easy on eye

    Sea, sun, scandal

Diary: Our correspondent takes in the sights and sounds of Galle and Colombo, and reports on a tampering controversy

Cook's Brearley lesson

Jon Hotten: Mike Brearley was an outstanding captain despite his repeated failures with the bat

News | Features Last 7 days

Bhuvneshwar on course for super series

Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th

Vijay rediscovers the old Monk

The leave outside off stump has been critical to M Vijay's success since his India comeback last year. Contrary to popular opinion, such patience and self-denial comes naturally to him

Ugly runs but still they swoon

Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing

Time to pension off the seniors?

If England are going to win nothing, history suggests it might be worth their while to win nothing with kids

Boycott floored by an Indian trundler

When Eknath Solkar got under the skin of Geoff Boycott, leading to a three-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket

News | Features Last 7 days
Sponsored Links

Why not you? Read and learn how!