September 17, 2010

Why are India a poor fielding side?

Fielding is more important in cricket than ever, as the game gets shorter, but India lag behind as they always have done
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India's cricketers have always looked at fielding the way a chef might at a chutney in a thali; it's there to complete the offering, occasionally add some zing to the meal, but you wouldn't practise making it the way you would a main course. Cricket was always about batting and bowling - mainly batting - and fielding was what you did to warm up, or something you had to do at the end of training, just before the shower. It wasn't something that defined you, and so good fielders have always been talked about like the distant aunt remembered only for her pickle.

But as the game becomes shorter, as the menu shrinks and every bite becomes important, fielding, the country cousin, is demanding to be heard. When you have just a hot dog the mustard becomes important, or since I'm vegetarian, when you only eat a dosa the chutney is critical. And so India's cricketers, brought up on batting and bowling, are looking out of place, like they don't belong. Singles hit to them become twos, catches fall short and direct hits are infrequent. With only 120 balls to play, the one percenters are getting more and more important, but young India is looking the other way.

You saw that when the Mumbai Indians played with Teflon hands against the Highveld Lions and the Southern Redbacks. And you saw the importance of it when Davey Jacobs and the Warriors from Port Elizabeth fielded like every ball was their last in the game against Victoria. Jacobs himself created two wickets with his fielding and those really turned the game their way. In the 20-overs game, fielding is nudging its way up the value chain; a fielder who saves 15 and scores 20 is better than a batsman who scores 40 and lets go 10.

In Durban you saw the difference in athleticism between the Mumbai Indians and the Southern Redbacks. Daniel Harris created a catch when Ambati Rayudu was well set and saw two go down when he batted.

So what is it about India? Why is it that we rarely produce athletes? At different times in history India have been a very good catching side but rarely an athletic one, and that is increasingly what Twenty20 demands. Is it a gene? Is it the hard outfields that make diving a hazard? I'm not convinced of either answer.

The importance of diving is grossly over-emphasised. The best fielders don't always need to dive, since they get to the ball quicker. And that means the time they need to accelerate is small. It can only come with practice, but while a coach can teach that, a player must feel it from within. It is the same as studying mathematics, preparing for the ballet or cooking a fine dish. If you feel the need to, you will do what it takes. And it worries me that not enough Indian players want to be athletes, even though it gives them a better chance of being selected - as with Sathish of Tamil Nadu and the Mumbai Indians, who, I suspect, shines brighter because of the lethargy that defines his surroundings.

So too with the throwing arm. Five throws rifled in from the deep can save five runs, and once you build a reputation for a great throwing arm, you save even more. Increasingly, too, as the boundaries come in, you no longer need to throw 70 yards, but even over 60 a fielder must feel the need to practise, to save his side that extra run, and in doing so to add one to his contribution to the side.

India's ambition to remain a world power on the cricket field, as opposed to off it, will depend on how quickly the new generation adapts to the requirements of the shortest form and on whether they have the rigour to sustain their game in Test cricket. The requirements are vastly different and the shortcomings are standing out increasingly. India is still the top Test side, a legacy of the cricket a departing generation played, but they are struggling in Twenty20 cricket, the trademark of the new kids on the block. Maybe there is a story there.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A.Ak on September 20, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    Its all in the mind. When the players start their career, they are more active and do everything on the field to get attention and famous. Once they established as the good players, then the mind and head weight comes in to play (in the last couple of decades only Sachin, Kumble and Dravid - only exception), then of course politics between players. Its not only in cricket,for India it is in everything. See Australian, see their attitude on field, always wants to win, no complacency. that missing knockout instinct, is what makes India what it is on the field. See Harbajan, Zaheer, Yuvi - all are very lazy nowadays on the field.

  • on September 20, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Indian are not athletic at all.. this is bigest country with no olympic medal for athletics. Even Sri Lanka had.. 200m silver medal (lost gold from 0.01s) in 2000 Sydney Olympics.. I think main problem is their vegetarian diet.. eat some meat.. not grass..

  • dishNub on September 19, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    I think problem with fielding runs deep into the Indian sporting culture. With selectors looking for sheer number of runs or wickets, youngsters are forced to concerntrate on only those aspects. Who has heard of a cricketer selected in the team becuse he has good fielding? So why if you are trying to get into Indian team, why would you pay any attention to the fielding? People like Gambhir who are exteremely poor fielders and catchers find themselves permanent members of Indian cricket due to the runs scored.

  • geevee on September 19, 2010, 13:42 GMT

    Talk of athleticism - I believe many Indian batsmen have a bigger problem taking singles (which batsmen of other teams take), converting the ones and twos into twos and threes. Except for a few players, Indians are notorious for wasting balls and looking to make up in 4s - whcih they are admittedly good at. Imagine the difference, if they ran more runs.

  • on September 19, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    I wonder why people always indian cricket has 100 billion followers. There are many people who does not about cricket

  • on September 19, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    india in cricket is like england in football!!

  • Rakesh_Sharma on September 19, 2010, 3:06 GMT

    India is never good in any athletic sport.They are good in msports which needs silken or beter soft touch like chess, billiards shooting etc. Cricket is a game in which batting is more on a non athletic side except for the fact you have to run singles.Even for running it is more of calculated pacing rather than sprinting. India can never match fielding of Australia or south Africa . More so 95 % of Cricket audience in the world are indians. Despite this India is no 1 by chance as the standard of Australia and WI fell almost to average level. Indian standard will always be above average considering that 1 billion people support it . In other countries like Australia it is basically around 5 to 10 millions at the most. It is i billion against miniscule population. No world class bowler and dreaming of being no.1 which 99.9 % of world countries do not care.

  • Jim1207 on September 19, 2010, 0:43 GMT

    India's fielding is not generally poor when you look into its international side. India's desire to become or be the no.1 team would be based on the selectors. They do not have any idea what team is going to be in world cup with all the youngsters they back are pathetically poor in technique, arrogant in behavior, sloppy in improving themselves. This refers to Virat, Rohit, Dinesh, Jadeja and Yuvraj. They have been given umpteen chances without any improvement at all, which is going to bring yet another shame for India. But, the selectors are not giving continuous support to proven technically sound players in Ranji format like Badri, Pujara and Ashwin. They do not even give chance to Ashwin to play tests or ODIs given his tremendous technique compared to Mishra or Ojha or Jadeja. Looks like Pujara would never get Indian cap. If only India makes another first round exit in world cup, selectors would recognize players from Ranji and not from IPL or U-19, that too not guaranteed!!

  • howizzat on September 18, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    continued... seems not interested in giving priority to fielding. Indians are not the best at field placements and their bowlers often do not bowl to the field. Whatever be the facts are present indian team, its captain, its selector, its coach are neither eager nor too optimistic to improvise in this aspect.Otherwise why on the other day, the skipper Dhoni said if fielding does not improve, its not in our hands. That precisely sums up the whole story.

  • AlokJoshi on September 18, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    @sweetspot - spot on. Exactly my thought when I read that part! @Tumtum - Runs saved do not increase gross runs scored by a team, or lower gross runs scored by its opponents. So, if a team scores 20 runs per batsman on an avg, it will always lose to the team whose every batsman scores 40 runs on an avg, irrespective of the number of runs saved.

  • A.Ak on September 20, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    Its all in the mind. When the players start their career, they are more active and do everything on the field to get attention and famous. Once they established as the good players, then the mind and head weight comes in to play (in the last couple of decades only Sachin, Kumble and Dravid - only exception), then of course politics between players. Its not only in cricket,for India it is in everything. See Australian, see their attitude on field, always wants to win, no complacency. that missing knockout instinct, is what makes India what it is on the field. See Harbajan, Zaheer, Yuvi - all are very lazy nowadays on the field.

  • on September 20, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Indian are not athletic at all.. this is bigest country with no olympic medal for athletics. Even Sri Lanka had.. 200m silver medal (lost gold from 0.01s) in 2000 Sydney Olympics.. I think main problem is their vegetarian diet.. eat some meat.. not grass..

  • dishNub on September 19, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    I think problem with fielding runs deep into the Indian sporting culture. With selectors looking for sheer number of runs or wickets, youngsters are forced to concerntrate on only those aspects. Who has heard of a cricketer selected in the team becuse he has good fielding? So why if you are trying to get into Indian team, why would you pay any attention to the fielding? People like Gambhir who are exteremely poor fielders and catchers find themselves permanent members of Indian cricket due to the runs scored.

  • geevee on September 19, 2010, 13:42 GMT

    Talk of athleticism - I believe many Indian batsmen have a bigger problem taking singles (which batsmen of other teams take), converting the ones and twos into twos and threes. Except for a few players, Indians are notorious for wasting balls and looking to make up in 4s - whcih they are admittedly good at. Imagine the difference, if they ran more runs.

  • on September 19, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    I wonder why people always indian cricket has 100 billion followers. There are many people who does not about cricket

  • on September 19, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    india in cricket is like england in football!!

  • Rakesh_Sharma on September 19, 2010, 3:06 GMT

    India is never good in any athletic sport.They are good in msports which needs silken or beter soft touch like chess, billiards shooting etc. Cricket is a game in which batting is more on a non athletic side except for the fact you have to run singles.Even for running it is more of calculated pacing rather than sprinting. India can never match fielding of Australia or south Africa . More so 95 % of Cricket audience in the world are indians. Despite this India is no 1 by chance as the standard of Australia and WI fell almost to average level. Indian standard will always be above average considering that 1 billion people support it . In other countries like Australia it is basically around 5 to 10 millions at the most. It is i billion against miniscule population. No world class bowler and dreaming of being no.1 which 99.9 % of world countries do not care.

  • Jim1207 on September 19, 2010, 0:43 GMT

    India's fielding is not generally poor when you look into its international side. India's desire to become or be the no.1 team would be based on the selectors. They do not have any idea what team is going to be in world cup with all the youngsters they back are pathetically poor in technique, arrogant in behavior, sloppy in improving themselves. This refers to Virat, Rohit, Dinesh, Jadeja and Yuvraj. They have been given umpteen chances without any improvement at all, which is going to bring yet another shame for India. But, the selectors are not giving continuous support to proven technically sound players in Ranji format like Badri, Pujara and Ashwin. They do not even give chance to Ashwin to play tests or ODIs given his tremendous technique compared to Mishra or Ojha or Jadeja. Looks like Pujara would never get Indian cap. If only India makes another first round exit in world cup, selectors would recognize players from Ranji and not from IPL or U-19, that too not guaranteed!!

  • howizzat on September 18, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    continued... seems not interested in giving priority to fielding. Indians are not the best at field placements and their bowlers often do not bowl to the field. Whatever be the facts are present indian team, its captain, its selector, its coach are neither eager nor too optimistic to improvise in this aspect.Otherwise why on the other day, the skipper Dhoni said if fielding does not improve, its not in our hands. That precisely sums up the whole story.

  • AlokJoshi on September 18, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    @sweetspot - spot on. Exactly my thought when I read that part! @Tumtum - Runs saved do not increase gross runs scored by a team, or lower gross runs scored by its opponents. So, if a team scores 20 runs per batsman on an avg, it will always lose to the team whose every batsman scores 40 runs on an avg, irrespective of the number of runs saved.

  • on September 18, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    One theory may be that Indians genetically are not that athletic type. Which also shows the kind of games Indians generally are good at (chess/billiards etc) and what they are miles behind others (football). But wait.. take a look at Srilanka. Before 1996 Srilanka were not any better fielding side than India or Pakistan was.. But look now.. They are easily one of the best. Only two teams I would think are better than Srilanka in fielding; Australia and SA. So it means it is actually possible for India to be a world class fielding side, consistently.

  • KBowser on September 18, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    Excellence in fielding needs to be driven from the juniors and club cricket upwards. Fielding is a big deal in Australia and has been for a long time. It will take a long time for Indian standards to improve across the board - and I am not sure the will is there. Fielding is a team-oriented activity something that has not been a focus for Indian teams and supporters who seem obsessed with individuals and their statistics. I hope the people who are posting from India are not involved with the Commonwealth Games - if they are then I suggest that they get back to their jobs and get the venues ready for the Games.

  • aafe on September 18, 2010, 12:07 GMT

    Harsha is absolutely right about Indian fielding. As a matter of fact India don't deserve to be top ranked test team. Sangakara rightly pointed out how a team claims to be No.1 without victories on foreign soils for decades. India don't have true seamers, no world class spinner. the worst fielding side in business (though Pakistan is close competitor) having big names in batting but those seldom do big things.

  • ragomsk on September 18, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    What is the answer Mr. Bhogle? After ears of observing, commentating and following cricket what is your explanation and he possible solution to the problem that we all know, and have known has existed since the days of Eknath Solkar in England in the 1970s (*when I first started to follow this game) when India won a series in England for the first time. there have always been one or two superlative fielders, Solkar, Salim Durrani, Mohinder Amarnath, Roger Binne, Robin Singh, Azaruddin, to Yuvraj and Raina but the whole team as a unit has not existed.

  • driftingmoods on September 18, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    @Meety: You meat argument is so silly. What explains Pakistan's lack of medals at the Olymipics? Lack of pork?

  • on September 18, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    I think Indian cricketers should play rugby. If you see the top cricket teams who have good fielding sides come from a rugby background. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England and even Sri Lanka have a good rugby influence since these are top sports in their country. Whereas, in India its just cricket that dominates!! I think rugby creates more athleticism and i think these teams have always produced excellent fielders!!

  • bharath74 on September 18, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Common ppl stop writing essays here, no body will have the patience to read ur comments, please keep ur comments short and informative, dont assume that ur Harsha Bhogle or Ian Chappel.

  • on September 18, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    The inability of Indian cricketers to field as well astheir counterparts can be traced back to the British Raj times.the Maharajas who initially played the game were conditioned to think that fielding was for the minions.Re-educating the current Indian crop of cricketers is the key to their improvement.

  • harvey7415 on September 18, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    Harsha is spot on. You don't need to dive all the time to show you're a good fielder. Just do the simple things right. The fact is Indians are lazy - they rely too much on their youth to help their fielding. But you need to practice hard to improve your fielding skills. I doubt if most Indians work hard - they don't even work hard at their batting and bowling, leave aside fielding. Wasim Akram was right - some of the young Indians are softies or too lazy. Take a lesson from Kapil Dev, Tendulkar, Gavaskar, Dravid, Kumble - all these guys were super hard workers. Spent hours thinking about their game and practicing at the nets.

  • Meety on September 18, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    @TheOnlyEmperor - like your comments about bigger grounds, but I do like fast outfields, I think it highlights better fielding more. @Middlestump - I acknowledge the self preservation arguement, however, whilst generally Oz's 1st class grounds are well maintained, we all grew up diving over stones & broken glass to stop the ball going for four, also playing football on these surfaces you grow up knowing that it doesn't hurt that much & the respect you get from your teammates is worth it. @TheOnlyEmporer - like your request for worst fielders acknowledged. I would like to put forward Phil Tuffnel as a definate top 10, I think Arjuna Ranatunga would be noteworthy too. @Nutcutlet - true. @Abid Rehman - I think Harsha is great on ABC Radio commentating on the cricket, it adds flavour, unlike you who seem to be sour! @knowledge_eater - don't want to get into an arguement on Meat v Vegies but the fact is there is a reason why India have only won 1 Olympic Gold medal - not enuff meat LOL

  • Meety on September 18, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    @Dhrubajyoti Das - agreed. In particular I don't understand why career run-outs can't be tracked. In Rugby now they track what a 5/8th does with the ball - pass, run kick, which I think is harder to track then whether a fielder is +/- 6 runs in the field. re: the article, fact is catches win matches, what that means is that a good fielding team will make bowlers appear better, through holding catches and stopping boundaries. A classic example is nearly 10yrs ago, Zimbabwe were one of the best ODI teams because their fielding was on the same level as Australia. @Ivan Joseph - don't agree. SA have often failed because of negative selections, by that I mean they go for allrounders instead of specialists. Pak & India won T20 World Cups because (apart form a talented roster), they embraced the unorthodox more readily then other nations did. ODI's started off being about the best bowlers & batsmen, but Oz changed things from the late 80s onwards with direct hits & sharp ground work.

  • denza on September 18, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    It's an excellent topic that need urgent attention specially if India has to go ahead in international cricket. Fielding like batting and bowling has carved a special place for itself in the game and matches can be won and lost there. Now coming to the point as to why Indian fielders have never been exceptional barring a few shines here and there, is the fact that Indian players are lethargic, afraid to dive around on the field and lastly lack of interest to save a run. In the current Indian team the brightest example is Zaheer Khan. If he is offered a sharp chance then one is sure that would be spilled. these things cannot be drilled into one by the coach or in that case may be a Jonty Rhodes, it has to come from within. however the current of players like Suresh raina, virat kohli etc are doing good enough on the field though they can still be better.

  • Alexk400 on September 18, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    1. Lack of energy (lack of meat diet) / lack of muscle 2. Lack of technique. you need to intercept the ball not with hand with your body as much possible. body/leg should be used second line of defense.Needs to get into active position quickly when people move to intercept. 3. Lack of commitment 4. Lack of ability , some body do not have strong knee , if you can't bend quickly , you can't really field that well.

    To be a great consistent fielder , people should be operating at 50% of their peak efficiency. if you have cheap car and travel 100mph , you hear lots of noise , if you rolls royce and travel at 100mph . it will be smooth. like golf swing to be accurate every time you should hit the bal at 60-75% of your max speed or you will mostly slice the ball or hook it.

  • Kaze on September 18, 2010, 2:17 GMT

    To the people saying that humans are herbivores, you are totally insane. Humans function best as omnivores. You need meat the problem is the quantity eaten. The key word is moderation, even some poisons and radiation are beneficial to your body in very small quantities. The problem with the Indian diet is the massive amounts of transfats in the form of ghee and other oils as well as the massive amounts of starch. That stuff will slow your metabolism and cause you to store fats which will in turn make you sluggish. To counter this you need to exercise and build muscle mass. The best diets are the mediterranean and japanese diets, lots of veggies, some fish and a small quantity of meat. The use of lots of garlic and ginger which are blood cleansers are also very beneficial in those diets.

  • PremZtalks on September 18, 2010, 1:59 GMT

    Harsha! you are spot on!!! The fielding standards to me is not about diving & other brilliant stuff. But INDIANs are not able to hit the stumps with even all 3 in view. POOR! ISn't it? ask all Indian players to take round and hit the stumps straight a 100 times daily. This doesn't need an Australian lush green outfield nor a wimbledon grass court! To add to this youngsters struggle to collect powerfully hit straight balls. For aashish nehra someone needs to take the ball and press in his hand for him to hold till he bowls it to a batsman. The least is the easy 2 runs they concede to the opposition that even the batsman might think twice but the not the fielders once!!! ALL said and done no solutions as of now you cannot throw anyone bcos of poor fielding BECAUSE we all know the bag is empty!!!

  • henchart on September 18, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    @TheOnlyEmperor-Gavaskar was not axed after 1985 Championship in Australia. He quit captaincy .One day Wonders ,written by Gavaskar vividly describes the event surrounding that Championship and how he put an end to musical chairs the Selectors played over the Captaincy issue.Those were the days when he and kapil used to lead the country by turns.Anyway,the current Indian side is a poor fielding side also because there are a few worthies who hide their injuries and continue to play .Going full steam on the field could mean aggravating the hidden injuries and missing few games .

  • Singhe on September 18, 2010, 0:49 GMT

    The main reason for this: the Indian cricketers are lazy. There are some strong healthy kids like Yuvi and Rohit who are just lazy!!! This laziness comes from their privileged background( because they are the ones who get the opportunities): this translates to a lack of professionalism and respect for their team-mates.

  • faakir on September 17, 2010, 22:55 GMT

    absolutely right Harsha..... Though I'll be coming to india for a month to watch the world cup but my sensible side tells me it will be of no use... the kind of fielding and bowling we have at the moment, we will be extremely lucky to play the semis...senior players like harbhajan singh drop catches and seriously don't feel the need the improve... then we have ashish nehra who unfortunately is a natural bad fielder and is passing the legacy on to ishant sharma...batting alone is not going to work for you and that too when every other opposition knows about your weakness against good short bowling...here again people are not trying to improve....I seriously wish we had a couple of good fast bowlers like pakistan...bowlers who are (allegedly) paid to make mistakes.. otherwise they just cant make one.....

  • Alexk400 on September 17, 2010, 22:23 GMT

    People mix some things in correctlt. Lack of commitment in fielding is different thing than skill / technique\ability.

    Team can win many games without excellant fielding when you have good fast bowlers and good batting. When you do not have good bowlers , then you need decent fielding. Lets leave win / loss out of this discussion.

    I do think "energy level" of player dictate how well he can field. When you have abundent energy , you will jump around in fielding. When you lack energy , you do what you do , you try less and less like ganguly field. if the ball not coming , do not try. Commentator say batsman are good in finding gaps. When player like karthik try hard left and right and miss the ball , commentator say karthik fielding sucks.

    so if u have less and less energy , you follow ganguly , bhajji way of fielding and safe way. Mainly because they lack strength in the muscle to have rapid accelartion towards ball. veg diet won't produce great fielders ever!.

  • Pedpathpres on September 17, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    Harsha is quite correct --India as an international side field very poorly -- ever since 1948 any way , which is when I started watching cricket! Some exceptions, when Wadekar's side beat England, , Kapil's side in the UK in 1986, and the 1983 World Cup winners. Since then we have had some good , and even exceptional displays of catching , but our ground fielding is atrocious by World standards. Take a look at the way the first Zimbabwean teams ( with a total population of cricketers of less than 100, 000 (including children !!) won against India. The problem is that many cricketers do not make general athleticism or fitness an important issue. The Aussies have their "Rules" football in the off- season , the South Africans/Kiwis/ play rugby and several other sports , the Brits play soccer etc ... We indians do not seem to do this ...I know that the top cricketer plays all the year round, but the average schoolboy /club cricketer does not seem to have an "offseason sport".

  • amit.agarwal on September 17, 2010, 20:31 GMT

    hey harsha... hope you are reading this!!

    why are India a poor fielding side? because they (those who are poor fielders) think they are above the team and want somebody else to contribute for the success of the team while they can reap rewards. Hmmm.. saving runs do not get your name printed in BOLD and does not even help you get endorsements (you might get hurt); whereas scoring a hundred or taking a 5 wicket hall does. So why not wait for batting or bowling.

    <reply inspired by an event driven by youl (2005/2006) :-)> apologies for copyright violation, if any.

  • sweetspot on September 17, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    @Nayaksai - There is no evidence that meat eaters are stronger than vegetarians. (Elephants, rhinos, bisons, hippos -all vegetarians with enormous power!) In any case, strength is not a big factor in fielding. It's a skill, and an overrated one at that.

    @ Stephen Axtell - Did not mean to demean S.A. but they are the #1 fielding unit in the world and they are a top example, so my reference is aimed at being a compliment. To suggest that fielding is the most important aspect is folly, that is all my point is.

    Success in cricket takes a combination of several different things, and that is why each team's different approach makes for an interesting clash. India have not climbed to the higher rankings based on a corresponding improvement in fielding, that is for sure!

  • mustufa on September 17, 2010, 20:12 GMT

    This is the problem, lets talk about diving, Harsha wrote it, no one really noticed, you don't need to dive all the time to be a good fielder, a good fielder runs fast after the ball, has an efficient pickup and lets the ball go, and puts his shoulder into it. Forget diving, these guys are not even doing basic fielding right.

  • on September 17, 2010, 19:53 GMT

    Haahaa, Contrarily most of the new cricketers in the team are good athletes but poor fielders. The sponsorship driven batting friendly nature of the game has been good for us. Now we are world's most uncontrollable, and awesome batting superpower. We set & chase big targets and maintain top 3 ranking. Fielders are not important to us. To make fielders feel important we need some changes. I recommend Kotla like pitch everywhere, allowing 3 bouncers per over, setting boundaries far-far away, untrimmed grass in stadium and giving benefit of doubt to bowler. We need total bloodshed of the batsmen. They should get injured,have small career and loose their importance to fielders and bowlers. As boundaries will not be easily reachable the fielders will have to run more, saving every single run will be important. Everymatch will be as entertaining as MMA fights. I think Bhajj, Munaf and Nehra should be quarantined because they have wrong psychic influence on other fielders.

  • on September 17, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    Haahaa, Contrarily most of the new cricketers in the team are good athletes but poor fielders. The sponsorship driven batting friendly nature of the game has been good for us. Now we are world's most uncontrollable, and awesome batting superpower. We set & chase big targets and maintain top 3 ranking. Fielders are not important to us. To make fielders feel important we need some changes. I recommend Kotla like pitch everywhere, allowing 3 bouncers per over, setting boundaries far-far away, untrimmed grass in stadium and giving benefit of doubt to bowler. We need total bloodshed of the batsmen. They should get injured,have small career and loose their importance to fielders and bowlers. As boundaries will not be easily reachable the fielders will have to run more, saving every single run will be important. Everymatch will be as entertaining as MMA fights. I think Bhajj, Munaf and Nehra should be quarantined because they have wrong psychic influence on other fielders.

  • imdmaster on September 17, 2010, 18:50 GMT

    I think it's a very apt article keeping in view we have a world cup to play a few months down the line. As far as the reason is concerned I can sum it up in one word and i.e. "COMMITMENT". Take the example of Yuvraj Singh diving spectacularly on his ODI debut against Australia in Nairobi to dismiss an on rampage Ian Harvey. Fast forward 2004 same Yuvraj again takes a blinder to get rid of probably the best fielder the game has ever seen a certain Mr. Rhodes and it proves to be a match winning effort. Fast forward T20 world cup West Indies, hang on is that fat guy moving at mid-on Yuvraj Singh (once pride of India fielding)...a disgraceful act of lack of commitment on his part to let his fitness levels go down let alone the fielding. Then take example of guy like Robin Singh in the same Nairobi match he took a blinder to get rid of Ponting and that too at an age of 35+. The answer is plain select those who firstly are commited members to team cause and take pride in playing for INDIA.

  • Alexk400 on September 17, 2010, 18:44 GMT

    I really do not think current set of indian players or future selection will be any good in fielding. Simply because india lacks gym culture or society appreciate body builders. if you eat rice , lentil muscles will be loose and do not have muscle tightness to get rapid acceleration in the body to have fielding speed.

    it is always going to be tortoise speed. Once we have few body builders from india , indian kids will start to look for gym and eating habits.

    until then expecting indians to be good fielding is outwright impossible.

    We rather find 6 feet ahtletic muscled fast bowlers. can we import some from pakistan?.

  • Alexk400 on September 17, 2010, 18:38 GMT

    India has million strong athletes in the army. It is just that indian state cricket board do not see them.

    Athelete with cricket talent is another story. if some of the athletes has been found early stages and given enough training , they probably good. We need chinese style govt to get best out of india. At present it is all low quality and lots of whining.

    India has everything , it is just that india lacks scouting system. if there is a way scout can get the money , they will find 1000s of cricket athletes over 6 feet suddenly and miraculously in India

    It is just some elite section of indian society do not see them. India need revolution or pak needds to nuke whole north india along harsha bogle. :)

  • on September 17, 2010, 18:36 GMT

    i remember watching a movie in which Nana Patekar chides his son who is fielding...and asks him......sachin bannne ka, kaif nahi banne ka!! audience lapped up this dialog, but i felt it was in poor taste.....that defines the mentality of some people here.....

  • sonjjay on September 17, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    The only consistently good fielder that comes to my mind is Mohd Kaif. But hey u aint gonna be in the side only coz ur a good fielder. With the growing emphasis on T20 it is becoming increasingly important to supplement batting/bowling skills with good or atleast efficient fielding.I remember how in the t20 world cup Robin utthapa's direct hit got the wicket of Nazir who was blazing away. Fielding can often raise a side's spirit when the chips are down and also gives a side the confidence needed to defend an average total....

  • on September 17, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    why blame the players? if the selectors dont sack players due to bad fielding, then it simply means, good fielding is not at all required to be in the team. If the officials sitting in the cricket board are only thinking money, then that is what we will get. People like yuvraj are selected in the world cup team even after 1 full year of bad batting as well as pathetic fielding just because of fan following. Who will want to improve in such a scenario?

  • Jarr30 on September 17, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    MiddleStump@ I completely agree with you...if go to Shivaji Park(Mumbai) where you see kids under 10 practicing, you will see what surface they are playing on. No way in the world they can dive on a ground which is filled with stones and lack of grass on the ground.Those same kids who go on to play internationally will have a hard time diving or fielding. On top of it Asian players are not physically strong to be good Athletes.Out of same bunch some of them are lazy feilders and want to achive sucess with a SHORT-CUT.To me South Africans are by far the best in fielding side and Australians are the most hard working in the field.

  • KeenObserWhere on September 17, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    Harsha is a mind Bhogler. How come this IIM product has failed to do the complete analysis? All that he says might be true but he also has to take the infrastructure into account. I remember my brother playing at a local practice facility of an international stadium in India and coming home at least at least twice a week with bruised elbows, knees and torn pants because he used to dive like crazy. I still remember a couple of games where NZ and ZIM players dived full length in India and had their pants torn. A little grass always helps. When the players from Indian subcontinent dive, the pants turn brown where as in other countries they turn green. Grass is always better than soil to dive on

  • AndieRae606 on September 17, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    It's a continued surprise. I thought India raised their game in the field down under and thought the IPL would help in that area, but ....

  • knowledge_eater on September 17, 2010, 16:58 GMT

    @Nayaksai Wrong wrong wrong, very unhygienic diet. Human dependency on Vitamins and minerals is more than enough proof that we are more herbivores than carnivores. You don't get essential vitamins just eating meat. Do you have any ideas how meat is produced! Overall people aren't healthy who constantly eat this greasy meat. Amount of time you have fry meat to be able to eat is worst food you ever want to eat. Animals are given crazy amount of antibiotics which we think its being eliminated by over heating, is not entirely proven. And if you cook/fry meat this long, there is nothing left in meat than pure fat. Most of the Indian Cricketers aren't vegetarian just FYI. Meat will make you powerful athlete and will have great relaxes is totally baseless. I am going to take your comment as a sarcasm. Number of heart diseases are increasing rapidly in every country and its really HIGH in meat eating countries. Fast food companies are biggest terrorist in every country. Beware. Sighhhh

  • MiddleStump on September 17, 2010, 16:53 GMT

    @Guruprasad. Next time you see children (below age 10) playing cricket in India, try to make a mental note of the playing conditions. Most of them are playing on the roads and on concrete surfaces. The lucky few play on hard grounds peppered with stones. All of them try to prevent injuries when fielding and this becomes part of their basic instinct by the age of 10. You can coach them all you want in college and put them on decent pitches but it is far too late. Ask any psychologist and they will tell you how difficult it is to overcome deep instincts. It is simply ridiculous to compare their formative years with kids in Australia, New Zealand and England who are initiated to the game on well maintained playgrounds and parks. The best that can be done with Indian players is to improve their throwing AFTER they get the ball. And quicken their reflexes at close in positions.

  • Daveptee on September 17, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Non vegetarian diet has nothing to do with athletic abilities or performance in cricketing disciplines........here are a few examples......

    Batting: 1)Don Bradman 2)Gary Sobers 3)Viv and Barry Richards 4)Greenidge 5)Lara 6)Tendulkar

    Bowling 1)Muralitharan 2)Holding 3)Roberts 4)Lillee 5)Kumble 6)Hadlee

    Fielding

    1)Colin Milburn 2)Jonty Rhodes 3)Richards

  • on September 17, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    the reason for the poor fielding is there is no stick for the indian team. only the carrots....

  • Daveptee on September 17, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    If Sachin Tendulkar misses out Mumbai Indians would be a side without any Mumbai players......such is the state of Mumbai cricket.Wonder what will happen when Tendulkar retires!

  • Daveptee on September 17, 2010, 16:23 GMT

    Indian cricket has been traditionally dominated by Mumbai players and administrators,their monopoly extends to commentary too ,but that is a different story.

    Other than Solkar and Gavaskar in past and Tendulkar currently,rest were all horrendous fielders........

    Now of course things are changing,but it takes time.The emphasis for so many years was never on good fielding ,sporting pitches or llush grounds....

  • Mina_Anand on September 17, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    Harsha, you are right about Indians not taking fielding seriously. It's time we should. But I am not so sure that India struggles in T-20. We did win the 2007 World Cup - where the great fielding sides lost out...Also, in this year's world cup, the born-to-field Proteas, Kiwis and the Aussies did not make it to the finals..

    India may look as if it is struggling in this format. But it's just the nature of the game - where no team is consistent.

    Can you tell me one team that has stayed at the top - in T-20? England won the title and have struggled to retain that form. Pakistan won the last Cup and have been most inconsistent.

    The IPL teams are all topsy-turvy - in more ways then one !

    The T-20 format is not 20 carat worth !

  • knowledge_eater on September 17, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    Well written article, liked the beginning and ending. I am not going to complain about dropped catches because players do catching practice when there is different lights and lot of people have in fact dropped catches in this tournament. That doesn't prove that all of them are bad Catching unit. Its something to do with lightning. However, normal fielding has been iffy for India always. We had good fielders but they are in patches, not as a unite. But recently it is improving, we do have good fielders in India but they never been all together in one-team, because either they aren't very good batsman or bowler. I like your optimism after Asking a question, "Why can't we produce Athletes" ? I am not sure if you are going to agree with this but India has better fielding unit currently than we had 50 years ago, so we are in improvement. And btw to make better Athlete, we need to mate proper individual and then train children from birth, still Africans are far ahead in Athlete-Gene pool.

  • Kaze on September 17, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    You want to know why India are not a good fielding side, do you want the polite version or the fact ? The fact is that Indians, you can add the Asian block to this too, Pak & SL, are naturally inferior in athletics, just look at any sport that involves running in fact look at any sport period. You mentioned diving, in order to reduce the amount of diving you have to be quick across the ground and that is something you will hardly see in the Indian side. In short bursts people like Yuvraj will be decent but you won't see an Indian running a ball to the boundary and picking up and throwing down the stumps from there it just won't happen. They just have to a) Accept their limitations and work around it or b) Do a lot more training. However I can't see more training coming into the equation, you look at someone like Yuvraj and his well recorded laziness and his growing gut and it is quite plain to see that it won't change.

  • on September 17, 2010, 15:40 GMT

    As long as the "chocolate boys" are selected in the team, the fielding will only go from bad to worse! The only sporting ingredient in cricket as I believe is fielding. If the players are not good in that, they are not real sportsmen. In contemporary cricket, best fielding alone can turn around a cricket match. Hence, the player selection should equally be based on the player's fielding and athletic abilities too. In the recent past, I saw Indian cricketers after one single dive to stop a ball going retired hurt unable to continue the game!! Definitely, this kind of players are not supposed to be in a national cricket team like India, where millions of aspiring cricketers are in line waiting for a chance to get into the team.

  • rajeevwarrier on September 17, 2010, 15:32 GMT

    I dont blame the Indian team for being a bad feilding side. It has been the case with everyone of us. We do things only when we are pushed to or when we cant survive without doing that. That is why we have so many INDIAN acheivers in different fields of life abroad and very few in India as such. We blame the system for everything. Same goes with our cricketers - they will field better when their position in the team is threatened because of their poor fielding. As you all can see they have to either be a decent batsman or bowler to be in the team. Fielding is just a bonus.So let us enjoy our cricket as it is. Will we change ourselves ? If the answer to that question is NO, then dont expect our cricketers to change. We get what we deserve. We all have to change our ATTITUDE. Iam an Indian who is at the moment working abroad, but will be back in India next year. I am proud to be an INDIAN......

  • rajeevwarrier on September 17, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    I dont blame the Indian team for being a bad feilding side. It has been the case with everyone of us. We do things only when we are pushed to or when we cant survive without doing that. That is why we have so many INDIAN acheivers in different fields of life abroad and very few in India as such. We blame the system for everything. Same goes with our cricketers - they will field better when their position in the team is threatened because of their poor fielding. As you all can see they have to either be a decent batsman or bowler to be in the team. Fielding is just a bonus.So let us enjoy our cricket as it is. Will we change ourselves ? If the answer to that question is NO, then dont expect our cricketers to change. We get what we deserve. We all have to change our ATTITUDE. Iam an Indian who is at the moment working abroad, but will be back in India next year. I am proud to be an INDIAN......

  • Nayaksai on September 17, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    NEED HOT DOGS Pal!!!

    You said it!! You answered your own question. Indian bodies are weaker (even compared to Pak or SLanka) as them guys eat less or no meat. Actually solid beef diet is crying call!! Bacon(pork)/ham & eggs in morning, A burger or a Italian beef s/w in afternoon and a biryani @ night!!! Of course Fruit with breakfast, leafy salad with the burger and a cooke sabji at night!!!

    Alternate twice a week (No red meat) : Eggs and Turkey Sausage for breakfast, Grilled Chicken Sandwich(Lunch), Baked Thilapia or Pomfret curry with grilled Shrimps.

    Then talk!!

    And dump the chutney. Dont need Dosas!!!

    Hemant Nayak Naperville

  • SubJ on September 17, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    1. Lack of interest to hurt your body. This perhaps is a systemic problem that has been inherited. 2. Poor athleticism/stamina/strength. This is because of the inadequate, outdated and absolutely worthless training facilities we have in India. This also includes the kind of diet, the regimen, the modular physical, psychological and team training that new kids on the block get. Or, do they really get any? Watch university stadia and training facilities in any country other than those in the sub continent. We are the richest board, yet, "who the frock cares. Rather let's buy yachts and jets". 3. The grounds are badly maintained. They are expected to be atleast green if not lush green if anyone's expected to dive. Again, systemic disfunctionality. It's again, "who the frock cares". This time its the groundsman though.

  • Crazy_Cricket_Fan on September 17, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    may be.. one solution for this never ending problem could be--> add/delete the runs saved/missed while fielding to their respective batting/bowling numbers..for example if i score 66 runs and gave 6 runs away while fielding my actual score would be 60..no change in team TOTAL..may be a bad idea..but atlease can be tried at club level to see how it works since the players are not putting efforts or realizing the importance..

  • Sunman81 on September 17, 2010, 14:38 GMT

    Dear Harsha, Indian fielding have definitely improved over the years and to call it simply as poor is a wrong statement.... We still have a long way to go to prove ourself as a better fielding unit. When you have players like Raina, Kohli, Rohit, Yuvi, Karthik etc it is definitely not a poor fielding side..... Its just that athleticism missing in some old players... to an extent grounds in India contribute to this since the players grow up playing in grounds where it would be difficult to slide or dive.... Only international grounds are well maintained...So u should probably analyze cricket at ground level before making a generic statement...

  • Nampally on September 17, 2010, 14:36 GMT

    In baseball they call fielding, defence. There are specialist in both in-fielding & out fielding positions which are always manned by specialists inr those positions. All the fielders have an excellent throwing arm from any position ranging upto 450 feet from the plate. Train the cricketers the same way. Let the guys from covers, point, third man, long off, mid on, mid wicket and long leg learn to throw into WK or Bowlers end accurately - on one hop or without any lobbing. These attributes are obtained thru' training for hours. Indian climate is not conducive to it, due to hot weather and poor outfield surface. Why not build an indoor stadium with artificial turf or grass turf which is levelled and smooth and train the cricketers for fielding in this stadium.The Selectors must be proactive and visionaries. Indian bowling & fielding is the weakest in the world. Unless these 2 departments are improved India will not fare well. "Catches win matches" & bowlers must induce these catches.

  • sweetspot on September 17, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    As per your logic Harsha, let's pack one team with players who score all score 20 and save 15 (team score 220, right mateys?) and the other with players who all score 40 but allow 10 (team score 440, right mateys?). You want to be in the first team, be my guest! Did you do the calculation for Shaun Pollock's world cup team?

  • on September 17, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    The fielding phase of cricket is important for all the teams. if your teammates are able to stop 20-25runs in fielding , that run will help in securing win over opposition team. In fielding phase the indian players are not so much poor as people think. India has good fielder like suresh raina , yuvraj singh and so on.

  • Nampally on September 17, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    Harsha, a factual & timely article.The main reason for poor fielding is due to lack of emphasis on fielding while batting & bowling are the only 2 categories used for selection. Hence the Team Selectors are the biggest culprits. Does anyone get in the team for fielding? NO. Include one more selection criterion - Fielding position - just like for the wicket keeper - in addition to batting & bowling.The 11 jurors( Harsha, you were one of 11) in selecting the All Time India XI this week placed zero emphasis on fielding. I had actually commented on it.Our present Indian team has Raina, Kohli and Rohit Sharma as excellent fielders. The rest including WK need to sharpen up. Training for good fielders need the following: 1. Good speed & Reflexes 2. Good throwing arm from outfield like a baseball style of throwing 3. Ability to take catches at any position & good ground fielding 4. Ability to hit the stumps from in field. Indians are inherently poor in physical fitness and are poor sprinters

  • bvnathan on September 17, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    When a Cricket team is fielding, all the 11 players have to make the contribution on the fields to ensure the TOTAL defended is akin to climbing MOUNT EVEREST for the opposition.

    Indian players may not be athletically built naturally - but it can be developed. Where to start - make participation in sports and athletics compulsory for all the able bodies kids at school. This not only prepares them physically but also gives them the confidence to deal with any situation.

    As a country of one billion+ people, we can make a big difference. This requires a total review of the system that we have, who is in-charge of administration, Govt./Corporate support, infrastructure and facilities and spotting the talent. A country that has produced the likes of Milka, PT Usha can do much better.

    Last but not the least, "ATTITUDE" - is what defines a player performance on any fields of choice.

  • PeteB on September 17, 2010, 11:54 GMT

    Fielding is arguably as important as batting and bowling in T20.So theselectors should preference players who are better fielders. That will sharpen their skills up quick smart.

  • addiemanav on September 17, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    totally agree with harsha.earlier there use to be a suggestion that bcoz the grounds in india r hard, players dont dive that much..i dont think its a smart thing to say now when youngsters play everywhere,in places like SA during ipl or cl20..if u look at some players in 90s,we had azhar who was good in the field..also had jadeja,robin singh and some others..even sachin was a good fielder,he had a good arm and still is a safe catcher but injuries have somewhat slowed him..leaving ground fielding aside indian catching used to be safe,in slips as well..we hav always had gud slip fielders and bat-pad catchers..it is surprising that this current generation is the most lathargic..even venkatesh prasad was like a livewire in the filed compared to someone like praveen kumar!

  • amit.agarwal on September 17, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    hey harsha... read this article early morning and it was heartning to see somebody like you still remembering Md. Kaif (even using his photograph). Poor chap was an excellent performer during his last west-indies tour; donno why isnt he getting chances. furthermore, savibg 20 odd runs while fielding and making around 30 while batting is equivalent to 50 per innings. that too when during kaif's time many other players (including kaif himself) too had lady luck against them but they still are in one or the other national teams. Even rajasthan royals during 1st ipl earned a lot due to kaif's contribution. unfortunately, it seems he is a forgotten hero.

    to all critics... yes, i am an ardent fan of dravid and kaif. these two have always been performing their duties well better than others who party and keep getting involved in petty politics. i never questioned your loyalty; please spare these two as well.

    thanks harsha.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 11:06 GMT

    The only time that I have seen India do exceptionally well on the field for an entire series was in Australia 1985 when India won the Championship. Every player fielded out of his skin and the results in improved fielding driven by Gavaskar as captain, was there for all to see. The performance bar on fielding went up several notches than normal and there was a lot of physical energy to be seen on the field even to the tv viewer. It was then, that there was some belief that Indians could actually field, it's just an attitudinal thing if they don't! Needless to say, Gavaskar was axed from captainship soon after, thanks to the usual zonal political bickering, and India's fielding tempo set in that series went all downhill! Today, Indian selectors and commentators have become very protective and defensive about the mistakes of players from their zone, while commenting on the others. Such people obviously need to be weeded out from Indian cricket!

  • on September 17, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    @sweetspot , whats the point in bringing South Africa into it, they have won many important games with good fieders. But if you have the obsession with South Africas non-performances in Tournaments, a piece of bad fielding could have been the catalyst (Gibbs) of at times unfair criticism of South Africa (I have often ran to my dictionairy after some media reports thinking I actually knew correct meanings of words)

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    If one were to talk of wicketkeeping, the standards have fallen considerably since the 1970s, when batsmen were also given to the leg-glance, now an almost extinct batting ploy for runs. A wicketkeeper therefore needed to be good extremely good on the legside for diving outstretched catches. Dhoni still has flaws in his wicketkeeping. He is unable to gather and hold the snick just outside the offstump to an off spinner as he naturally moves down the legside, leaving a gap bet him and the 1st slip. He also doesn't seem to commit at all to dving catches which fly in that zone between himself and wider 1st slip. Really, where are the commentators talking about all this? Even if they do understand, they don't speak out for fear of offending the players, whom they all know and interact with off the field! The loser in all this is the cricket fan and the paying public, because repetitive mistakes get corrected only when pointed out in public!

  • ad-infinitum on September 17, 2010, 10:29 GMT

    I have played cricket at the district level and was afraid of throwing myself around on the field because the grounds in India are so hard and bereft of grass that you inevitably end up injuring yourself. Indians do not put in the dive at all, and prefer to plant their foot in the path of the ball. I doubt this is the case in other countries, with green outfields where it might even be pleasing to dive around on the grass. Indian catching is okay shokay as it is only required to catch a ball in the air. There may be more reasons to explain the shoddy fielding but this is what i have EXPERIENCED MYSELF and can say is one of the primary causes. When i started cricket in my club, i used to dive around but gave it up after i started hurting myself.

  • Ronita on September 17, 2010, 10:23 GMT

    something to do with match fixing!? *Wink wink* :)

  • pnramr on September 17, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    Lots of people write articles about fielding. One can be a great fielder if he works hard daily and have a passion for it. Any cricketer who practices fielding daily for 3 or 4 hours can be a great fielder. If you call 20 people from the streets who have not played cricket and give them fielding practice daily for 6 months they will become one of the best fielders in the country where as batting and bowling is something inborn. Its as simple as that when a team fields badly it means they have not worked hard on that aspect.

  • karthikfromchennai on September 17, 2010, 9:09 GMT

    I think, India never worried about fielding in 80's...we only had Kapil who was good and Chikka(Srikanth) was somewhat good. But Indian players in 80's were hardly good in the filed. May be because the scoring was very slow in 80's...even in ODis. If a team posts 230+ in a ODI...would be a huge challenge to chase down, In 90's we had Azhar, Jadeja and Robin Singh in the team who were brilliant in the field. Hmm...ofcourse, compared to other teams our fielding is sure in the back seat.

  • patia on September 17, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    It's as simple as that: Indian players donot want to get injured and sit out.Second reason being they can get man of the match award even if they have fielded badly in the match.It's the runs and wickets which go in to the records not mis fielding or dropped catches.

  • Runster1 on September 17, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    I think India is not the top fielding team in the world but still are the top test team. I do admit a few IPL teams have poor fielding, but world quality sides.

  • Guruprasad.S on September 17, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    @ sweetspot: The problem of India's poor fielding will not disappear by making comparisons with SA and their inability to count. True, we have Sehwag and other fine players, but no one has got a license to be a poor fielder.

    @Krishna Modukuru: You seem to have missed the point of the article. The point is not whether India win more matches than NZ, or whether NZ is a poor batting side. The point is: There is plenty of room for Indian players to improve their fielding.

    @ MiddleStump: While lack of facilities may prevent a majority of budding players from taking their fielding seriously, the few with the desire must do so, and only those few typically represent India. I recall an important point made by Harsha in one of his previous articles, that cricketers in must India rise above and in spite of the system, and not necessarily due to the system.

    Ultimately, those with a burning desire to improve and excel will always find a way to become very good fielders.

  • RaghuramanR on September 17, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    I am surprised that Harsha is not even a keen watcher of Indian cricket over decades. Think of great fielders of India, whom we have watched, not just heard? Azharuddin is miles ahead of anyone in India. Anil Kumble, India's highest wicket-taker, owes a lot to Azhar not just because Azhar was his captain most of the time but he was there at the slips and took some sensational catches. Mohammed Kaif is probably recent one that comes to mind. Yuvraj Singh is an acrobatic fielder who is shockingly poor on simple and straight forward fielding, which is needed most of the time. Tamil Nadu had a fair share starting from Venkatraghavan, then Srikkanth was good in short-leg and Robin Singh is the most recent good fielder.

    In India, preference goes in the order of batting first, spin bowling next, fast bowling next and fielding last, if not non-existent.

  • Nutcutlet on September 17, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    Indians and Pakistanis - when it comes to fielding, both countries are very short on star performers, yet both nations are obsessed with stats which, as has been pointed out, focus on the other skills. IMO,the lack of stats is integral to the dismissive attitude shown by these two nations towards fielding. In any cricketing biography of the greats that come from other countries, their prowess in the field is frequently mentioned: indeed, in some cases (Constantine, Bland, Jonty Rhodes, Tony Lock, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, even Jack Hobbs and the Don) their outstanding fielding is lauded - to emphasise their overall worth to their sides, aside their specialist skills. When considering All-time XIs, the fielding factor is never considered (keeping excepted) and yet it's something that all cricketers are required to do for half of every game! To be a TRULY great cricketer, he must first be outstanding in the field! That excludes most of the stat-minded players from India & Pakistan!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 8:27 GMT

    contd.. Talking of diving, there are different styles in diving. On is the "leap in the air" dive where you need to know how to also fall while focussing on catching the ball hands outstretched! Then there's the sliding dive on the belly as you chase the ball to the boundary behind it! Another technique involves the sliding dive where you use you use the feet while sliding to stop, pick and throw all in one smooth flowing action. Slip fielding involves cultivating quick reflexes and proper timing for the dive, particularly while diving forward! The forward short leg position involves not adopting the right posture and reflexes but also being ambidextrous when taking catches! Solkar was a class apart for India, but where are the other role models? It's sad, that though Dravid holds the WR for most catches in Tests by a distance, he's not even an above average out fielder. So much for records!

  • on September 17, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    couldn't agree more. many of our young batsmen - raina, kohli etc. are good fielders but not amongst the best. but the real dealbreaker is the fielding standards amongst our bowlers. if you look at the england fast bowlers - anderson, broad and so on, they are very decent fielders. our lot, zaheer, ishant sharma and munaf patel are an embarassment. i suppose we can deal with one poor fielder - its too late to expect zaheer to become an outstanding fielder, and he makes up for it when he has the ball in his hand - but what excuse do the rest have?? i mean ishant sharma is still just 23/24 years of age!! its ridiculous... we just cant hide four poor fielders.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    "The importance of diving is grossly over-emphasised. The best fielders don't always need to dive, since they get to the ball quicker" Really Harsha? Moving quickly is not a substitute for diving! You move quickly and THEN dive when you can't seemingly reach the ball by running. The NZ, Aus and SA save at least 25 runs every match because of their diving not to mention the additional catches that accrue in the bag because a fielder has made a dive for the ball when it is dipping! Diving is a response that comes out of readiness to leap and that would also immeasurably help in taking catches in the slips, gully and outfield. And one can only leap when one's weight issues are under control and that will happen only when fitness improves! End result - a guy who is given to diving will also be a fitter fielder! While a number of players do upper torso exercises these days to club the ball for 6, it's also imp to improve leg muscle strength for speed! Running on the sand helps!

  • on September 17, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    Complete waste of time..Dont get me wrong but india is a nation of over 1 billion people..For God sake ,can you please part your way with Harsha Boglay??..He is the " Vuvuzela" of cricketing world.the way he commentates..not on cricket but i have heard him "explaining" Hockey in Azlan Shah Tournament when India was playing some time ago...How can he talk about cricket ?...I watch alot of cricket.Dose that make me an expert of the game ?..He talks nonsense..99 times out of 100..Minimum qualification for a commentator should be that He should have atleast played International cricket..

  • Mbudhlani on September 17, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    well said Harsha. according to me its d lack of discipline n effort from our players. also nt 2 forget their daily diet chart. parathas with lots of ghee!!!!! jus take a look at bhajji , Yuvi n rohit sharma. look at the amount of weight tey hav put on.. i think all the IPL money tey r hidin in ter tummy n tas y tey r blowin like balloooooon. nly 10% credit shud be given to our ground staff for nt providin the amount of grass to the players required for divin practice. rest 90% i think its players fault. waitin for another article frm harsha.

  • on September 17, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    It talks of something about Indian fielding when one finds Tendulkar having the best throwing arm in the ODI team.Harsha you have a generation of cricketers in the 90s and 00s who would seldom want to chase the ball.The gingerly and lethargic running of the likes of Ganguly,Dravid,Laxman and Harbhajan is a case in point.Thats why lot of them are so slow movers between the wickets and great victims for runouts..How can one forget Ganguly just ambling and then twitching his hamstring whenever a drive from Hayden gets past him?And the same Ganguly was diving like crazy with the KKR and even created a runout of Gambhir which won them a match in IPL3 .So the point is you have to make the stakes greater while the players are in the Indian team.Remember most of the players travel for 9 months with the Indian team and a good work ethic in the Indian side will trickle down the benefits to the lower rungs.Take a pride in your fielding and rest will fall into place.

  • sweetspot on September 17, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    Harsha, fielding has to come from enjoyment, just like batting or bowling. Kapil seemed to enjoy his fielding, and no wonder he was magnificent, but then he was a natural athlete too. Cricket however, is an essentially skill oriented game, and doesn't always demand athleticism like perhaps, basketball. Our players should focus on their skill if indeed that is their strength. Now that is no call to be rank bad at fielding and having to put up with lethargy, but to wear our players out with drills to improve fielding would be folly, if indeed we see their skills not coming to the fore after they become marginally better fielders. Think Sehwag is the best fielder in the world? Think there is ONE team in the world who would not like to have him? Why does South Africa, perhaps with the most rigorous fitness program of all teams, crumble when it matters most? Heck, they can't even count properly!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 7:11 GMT

    contd -2: While there are more than enough articles dicussing the best, there should also be articles discussing the worst fielders / batsmen / bowlers since 1990... and when we say "worst", those considerably below average and who compete to be on the incompetency rating in the given activity! Let there be a rating to discuss the top 10 worst guys by country and the very fact that they are the butt of jokes and shame will make them improve and the others to raise their standards. It would also make them take fitness and fielding / bowling / batting coaches seriously and raise the benchmark on sports performance. This is a good way of fostering sports excellence. I say, announce a man-of-the-match award for the worst fielding performance to begin with! If the player doesn't come up to collect it, give it to the captain! There's seldom improvement without pain and it's better that somebody else suffers for shoddiness on the field rather than the paying spectators!

  • on September 17, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    Hmmm....well said Harsha, but look at New Zealand. All their 11 players are good athletic fielders, but they don't have any good batsman or bowler expect maybe Vettori. Yes I totally agree that fielding is important, but you don't need 11 Jonty's to field, what we need is a good mix of good and great fielders. Our younger cricketers give more importance to fielding so we might find a good fielding unit in the near future, but batting and bowling are still no: 1 and 2 of the cricket skills...

  • diri on September 17, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    India will always be second best if they dont improve their fielding

  • MiddleStump on September 17, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    Another article trying to make a mystery of the self evident. The best that can be done by India in the foreseeable future is to improve throwing from the outfield and be sharp close in. Gavaskar himself has acknowledged the obvious limitations in the current setup. Indian kids play for years on concrete surfaces, hard grounds and even on the roads from a young age. Most schools do not have a playground. The first instinct in that environment is to prevent injuries to oneself. Slides to stop the ball, flinging onself towards the ball etc are completely discarded. By the time players are selected to play for their colleges and clubs, this protective mentality is well entrenched and cannot be entirely eliminated even by a few years of coaching. In addition most cricketers do not take up any other sport or activity like swimming on a regular basis. The results are there for all to see.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    contd.. There are a lot of things that the ICC can do to raise fielding standards in cricket and make the fielders more athletic. After all the paying spectators and the millions who watch on tv are entitled to quality and everybody appreciates good fielding and a chase!... Keep the boundaries at 90 yards. Let the batsmen earn their 4s and 6s. Let them run for their runs and let the fielders chase the ball to save runs. Don't have fast outfields. Let the ball not race to the boundary if it goes past a fielder. Improve the quality of ground surface, so fielders are not scared to dive and stop. Bigger grounds and bigger boundaries will also see a greater number of field catches being taken. Bigger grounds will also show up slower fielders and the value of fast flat throws at the stumps. Harsha's article lacks quality and is bereft of suggestions that could improve cricket at large - the key criterion to judge a genuine sports writer.

  • on September 17, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    i think it lies in the fact that we do not theorize the game enough while coaching, especially fielding. as a result of which not much thought goes into that aspect of the game. jonty rhodes was as much about anticipation as he was about agility and ability. same with azhar.

  • on September 17, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    I have a doubt with rules for the playing eleven of IPL teams in Champions Leauge. Does the four international players rule good for Champions League too? How ever I only see Mumbai using five international players in playing eleven, the other teams RCB and CSK are using four.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on September 17, 2010, 6:39 GMT

    Indian cricketers have always been bone lazy and not given to strenuous exercises and field practice sessions. Physical fitness orientation is always driven by the captain and how he makes his wards practice during the practice sessions. Ganguly was a bad example as captain. A number of Indian players think they don't have to be good fielders if they can bat and bowl. They are also injury wary, for fear of being left out of the team. Most of them can't even run between the wickets with the pads on. I think it's time to get them away from the tread mills and time them on pitches, the old fashioned way! Dropping catches the way they do and then blaming it on the swirl and the lights is pathetic if not laughable. The BCCI doesn't care. How could pot bellied and over the hill sports officials ever care about physical fitness? The media could, but there are few thinking commentators out there who would rather speak up and hit the nerve. Isn't sport supposed to be about excellence?

  • on September 17, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Not a lot of value in this article. Just filling up space. Jonty Rhodes was outstanding and so is Ricky Ponting but Md Kaif and Raina are not far behind. However the main point is this - when it comes to the crunch it is usually outstanding batting or bowling (most often bowling) that makes the difference. SA with all their fielding brilliance haven't yet won a big won. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all have and their fielding was good but not the absolute best. Even in T20 of the 3 champions, one was India and the other Pakistan.

  • vipin.chaudhary2325 on September 17, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    fielding of Indian team is bad... because from early age when the crickters play Firs class matches, they don't get Grassy Ground to dive... and all the attention is towards batting & bowling, also the techniques & skills used to improve fielding are not so good in India... and one more reason is that all the Indian team members are becoming fat day by day.. dere are some safe fielder dravid, sachin, laxman... azharuddin was exceptional, as was Kapil dev, gavaskar was safe... yuvraj was briallilant when he was thin.. now a days Indian players don't want to hurt themselves in fielding, because if they get hurt, they might be out of team, and someone else will take place of him, and if dat substitute plays well, the other player might find difficult to come back in Team.. and also the batsman think dat the extra runs they give by bad fielding can be made by good batting...

  • on September 17, 2010, 6:31 GMT

    Fielding should be taken as a passion just like batting and bowling. If Bungy Jumping, Sking ,para Jumping is a challenge then plucking a catch out of no where is on the same category. Be it on the streets or the best of grounds in India its just bolwing and Batting on display seldom you see a Azhar, Jadeja or Yuvi kinds ....

  • on September 17, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    its time for media guys n commentators to glorify the art of fielding. it must be pointed out to be a specialist fielder at specialist position. we only glorify fielders at point or cover for eg Kaif or Yuvi but never has someone in media mention the name of Agarkar who was one of the best outfielders in world or Dravid at slips. & as long as likes of Nehra n Munaf keep finding place in the team despite there pathetic the future will continue to be the same.

  • on September 17, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    as always stupid cliches and not knowing wat to right about..

  • Rockeraakash on September 17, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    Its not hard grounds make it difficult for feilding in india.Its the way we treat our batting and bowling more than fielding.good fielders need not to dive always, take for mike hussey i think he is one of the best fielders,he makes fielding look much easier when compared to others.

  • evenflow_1990 on September 17, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    top article harsha. that first paragraph was classic.

  • alexbraae on September 17, 2010, 4:50 GMT

    If it wasn't for throwing themselves around in the field, the NZ limited overs team would be about as good as Bangladesh's. Their position in limited overs is entirely due to holding catches and saving runs, and Australia rose to the top of the limited overs world for similar reasons I think, people like Bevan, Clarke, Ponting are all excellent fielders. If India could sort out their catching and ground fielding, their bowling weaknesses wouldn't matter as any chances created would be taken, and they would truly be the best team in the world.

  • skkh on September 17, 2010, 4:49 GMT

    Well Harsha the answer to this question is easy. Once they are in the team they are treated with so much adulation that this goes to their heads. They act more like movie stars. Feilding is where one has to sweat it out physically and this is probably considered a menial job. Azhar, Jadeja and Kaif are few of the exceptions. Here in Australia if one is a good player but a bad fielder he is rediculed and he has to improve on his fielding to be in the state team or the national team.

  • on September 17, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Harsha , very good comments on Indian Fielding . It is becoming bad to worse nowadays , 8 out of regular 11 in Indian team for ODI and T20 are below average or worst fielders. Sometime very comical to watch Indian team fielding :-)

  • vedanthy2 on September 17, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    Harsha, you should know better.There was a Roger Binny a very good athkete.He was a reasonably good all rounder(bat,Bowl,Field).The moment he became a Cricketer hyped around he left his athleticism in the locker room,became obese and little did he achieve though he promised more.You have seen Brett Lee- he bowls fast so has to run-up fast,chases balls on field as if he was chasing the champs of 100meters.It all comes from within. Can you tell us how much running and fielding the 4 top batsmen have done. Dravid and Laxman are pillars in slips.Tendulkar Supervises the teanm from backward square leg et al. Jonty Rhodes made himself. His presence must make you work hard. But the youngsters in Mumbai Indians are on to iPod or "I" Train them at Academy ,stop asking them to give interviews etc.Let that speaking reest with Manager like in days of yore.

  • on September 17, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    I think, and I am going to dig up the past here, that we need a objective way to quantify fielding ability that has more detail than just the number of catches and/or stumpings. Runouts are credited to players in the game scorecard, but not on their career lists? Boundary saves, overthrows, and dropped catches/byes should all be tallied to get a true sense of the value of good fielding. For a sport that loves its numbers so much, it is pretty boggling that fielding has been so sorely neglected.

  • on September 17, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    Another good one from Harsha

  • TumTum on September 17, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    Great article. Liked the bit where you said: "a fielder who saves 15 and scores 20 is better than a batsman who scores 40 and lets go 10" So true!

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  • TumTum on September 17, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    Great article. Liked the bit where you said: "a fielder who saves 15 and scores 20 is better than a batsman who scores 40 and lets go 10" So true!

  • on September 17, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    Another good one from Harsha

  • on September 17, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    I think, and I am going to dig up the past here, that we need a objective way to quantify fielding ability that has more detail than just the number of catches and/or stumpings. Runouts are credited to players in the game scorecard, but not on their career lists? Boundary saves, overthrows, and dropped catches/byes should all be tallied to get a true sense of the value of good fielding. For a sport that loves its numbers so much, it is pretty boggling that fielding has been so sorely neglected.

  • vedanthy2 on September 17, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    Harsha, you should know better.There was a Roger Binny a very good athkete.He was a reasonably good all rounder(bat,Bowl,Field).The moment he became a Cricketer hyped around he left his athleticism in the locker room,became obese and little did he achieve though he promised more.You have seen Brett Lee- he bowls fast so has to run-up fast,chases balls on field as if he was chasing the champs of 100meters.It all comes from within. Can you tell us how much running and fielding the 4 top batsmen have done. Dravid and Laxman are pillars in slips.Tendulkar Supervises the teanm from backward square leg et al. Jonty Rhodes made himself. His presence must make you work hard. But the youngsters in Mumbai Indians are on to iPod or "I" Train them at Academy ,stop asking them to give interviews etc.Let that speaking reest with Manager like in days of yore.

  • on September 17, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Harsha , very good comments on Indian Fielding . It is becoming bad to worse nowadays , 8 out of regular 11 in Indian team for ODI and T20 are below average or worst fielders. Sometime very comical to watch Indian team fielding :-)

  • skkh on September 17, 2010, 4:49 GMT

    Well Harsha the answer to this question is easy. Once they are in the team they are treated with so much adulation that this goes to their heads. They act more like movie stars. Feilding is where one has to sweat it out physically and this is probably considered a menial job. Azhar, Jadeja and Kaif are few of the exceptions. Here in Australia if one is a good player but a bad fielder he is rediculed and he has to improve on his fielding to be in the state team or the national team.

  • alexbraae on September 17, 2010, 4:50 GMT

    If it wasn't for throwing themselves around in the field, the NZ limited overs team would be about as good as Bangladesh's. Their position in limited overs is entirely due to holding catches and saving runs, and Australia rose to the top of the limited overs world for similar reasons I think, people like Bevan, Clarke, Ponting are all excellent fielders. If India could sort out their catching and ground fielding, their bowling weaknesses wouldn't matter as any chances created would be taken, and they would truly be the best team in the world.

  • evenflow_1990 on September 17, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    top article harsha. that first paragraph was classic.

  • Rockeraakash on September 17, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    Its not hard grounds make it difficult for feilding in india.Its the way we treat our batting and bowling more than fielding.good fielders need not to dive always, take for mike hussey i think he is one of the best fielders,he makes fielding look much easier when compared to others.

  • on September 17, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    as always stupid cliches and not knowing wat to right about..