July 15, 2014

'The more fielders think for themselves, the better for the team'

Paul Collingwood talks about how fielding has evolved over time, manning backward point, the amazing AB de Villiers, and his fielding dream team
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"I always liked to keep my eye on the ball as much as possible" © Getty Images

Steve Waugh once said that "fielding is a true test of players sacrificing themselves for the interest of the team because it's the only facet of the game where you don't get statistically rewarded for your efforts". Do you agree?
Hundred per cent. When you're growing up, the first things you concentrate on are the other two disciplines, of batting and bowling, but in the last ten years the relevance and importance of fielding has just gone through the roof. There's a huge difference between someone who can field and someone who can't, selection-wise. The amount of runs you can save and wickets you can take through fielding now is huge, so it's a big test of a team's character and whether everyone's buying into what the team's trying to achieve.

Do you feel that when you started with England, the fact that you were a top-class fielder, and perhaps were seen as someone who embodied that selflessness of the team man, bought you some time?
Yeah, probably. I've always found fielding a very enjoyable aspect of the game, and something I enjoyed working on in training. I think back then you would have had standout fielders in the side, but you look at the difference now and you get seven, eight people in a team who are doing ridiculous things in the field. The pace of fielding has just gone to a different level altogether. So I've got to say, yes, I stood out then, but I'd find it hard to stand out in these modern times.

There have been a few innovations with fielding recently: the slide and rugby-style offloads, the two-man catches on the fence, all that. How much time is spent practising that kind of thing? It can look very clumsy and "clubby" when you get it wrong.
I think it's more of a mentality than anything else. It's about seeing what people can achieve. It's the same thing with batting: the targets that get knocked off these days is because people believe they can achieve them. You watch someone like an AB de Villiers, one of the best fielders in the world, and you see what can be done, what can be achieved, so you think, "Right, I'll maybe have a try at that in practice". There's always someone who sets the benchmark and it's a matter of seeing if you can emulate them. The speed of release - when you've hit the deck and you've got the ball in your hand, how quickly can you get up to throw it - there's so many different aspects of fielding that can make people stand out.

What do you think is the next innovation?
I really don't know until someone does it. The things I've seen recently with catches on the boundary - people about to go over the rope and chucking it to another player 15 yards away - I really didn't think would be possible. Maybe the next phase of fielding is that awareness of where your partner is.

What about ambidextrous fielders?
Yeah, maybe. There are guys coming through now into international cricket who are playing switch hits, this kind of stuff. Not everybody can do it, but what you're seeing is the next generation of players practicing switch hits more than our generation. So you're going to get fielders coming through who can throw both right and left-handed. It only takes one person to do a special run-out and the next generation says: "Okay, I'll practise that now." These are things that don't come overnight, though. If I throw with my left arm now, it would look pretty hideous, and it would take me probably 25 years to become any good at it.

You recently had a short-term appointment as England's fielding coach for the World T20. What can you teach an elite cricketer about fielding? Is it just fine-tuning?
Yeah, it is fine-tuning. But listen, everyone has a different physique, and it's kind of identifying how you can get the best out of those physiques. A fast bowler who's tall and gangly is not going to be able to do what someone who is 5'10'' and a lot stronger in the legs can do. So it's identifying what different people's strengths and weaknesses are and working with that. But there are obviously basics in fielding that can help you with accuracy, with power in the throw, with catching, with the strength in your hands; how strong your hands are around the ball when you go to catch it. The ball's getting hit harder and harder and you've got to make sure your hands are strong. The old terminology was: you've got to have "soft hands". If you've got soft hands these days when the ball's being hit that hard, it's going to burst through them.

"The best fielders in the world are the ones who've got quick feet, who are very strong in the thighs, and who pick the ball up and shift their alignment with the hips"

When you led England, in ODI and T20 cricket, your optimum position was backward point. But it's not necessarily the easiest place from which to captain. In which position could you best put your skills to good use and still skipper effectively?
In actual fact, backward point, in T20 cricket, isn't the most vital position. The general plans we had in the England side back then, certainly in the first six overs, was bowling "heavy length" straight. Generally you're going to get balls hit toward midwicket and extra cover - right throughout the innings, especially with the spinners on. So it was pretty easy to go from backward point to extra cover, where you can communicate with the bowler a lot more. If you need to change players' angles, it's a good place to do that from, even if it's just four or five yards. Sometimes, just as the bowler's about to turn, you might just have a hunch that a batsman's lining someone up and it might just need a five-yard shift here and there to give you the opportunity to get them out. It can be done in a split-second.

If you were at backward point, then running up to communicate with the bowler could send a negative signal to them.
I actually started off captaining from backward point. I found it very tough. You didn't have the instant communication with the bowler and what you were getting was mid-on and mid-off talking to them, and you almost felt as if you were out of the game a little bit. In ODI cricket I knew that was my best position to field but as a captain it's very difficult. You've got to be as close to the bowler as possible, really.

Skippering in T20 is pretty hectic. The momentum shifts in the game and the modern repertoire of shots mean that the optimum place for your best fielders is always changing. Did you go out with a clear plan as far as allocating fielders to the right positions was concerned, or did you do it off the cuff?
It's actually the case that they police themselves when you're out there. It's amazing the kind of rhythm that fielders get into. At strategic points in the game they know where to go. When Swanny would come on, they knew where to go. Very rarely would I say, "You two have got to swap." Ryan Sidebottom, for instance, who wasn't one of our strongest fielders, knew he'd be at 45.

You've touched on the hunches a skipper has with field placings and angles. Did guys ever wander out of position, and did you ever get annoyed with that?
No, the guys were pretty good. As I say, we self-policed, but when you've got big crowds in, that's probably the most difficult thing: trying to get someone's attention. But the guys were quite good at focusing on me right up until the last moment when the bowler was running in. Sometimes it was only a look and a slight hand movement. And you're only talking two or three yards at times, but it's just a kind of hunch you get. Thankfully during that 2010 T20 World Cup, a lot of those hunches came off. And you could see batsmen were getting sort of frustrated: "Ah, that's exactly where I was aiming it".

What are the most important qualities of a good backward point?
Everyone's got different theories on it, and I'm not saying my theory works best, but I used to watch the ball from the bowler's hand, even at backward point. Only to give us a cue as to what kind of length we were talking about. If it was a short ball and someone may be slashing at it, I may just a hang [back] a bit. As soon as I see a good-length ball I'm thinking, "Right, I'm in on the one. I'm going forward." So the more cues you can get before the batsman's hit the ball, the better - whether it's the shape of the shot or whatever. But I would watch the ball from the hand in the first part of its path, to get the length, and then I would zoom in straight on the batsman.

"The amount of runs you can save and wickets you can take through fielding now is huge" © PA Photos

A lot of good fielders have got amazing anticipation. I recently watched AB de Villiers in Bangladesh and I was absolutely amazed by how many yards he was making up before the batsman had hit the ball. It was almost cat-like. Fantastic to watch. I wish I'd had a video camera on him just to see his movement, the pace that he moved at throughout the full 20 overs. He was captaining that night and absolutely whizzed round for the full 20 overs.

When you were doing backward point, did you get in tighter to cut off the angle or sit deeper for more reaction time?
Depends who was batting. That's another thing: you've got to know your players very well. De Villiers, for example, in his early career, would come in to bat and look to drop and run. So you can get five yards tighter to someone like that compared to Chris Gayle, who'd come out to bat and might just look to hit fours, pretty much. You've got to be able to gauge how deep you can be to still save the single. But understand your batsmen - whether they're going for fours, so you can just hang a little bit. It's like anything else: you've got to analyse the opposition and understand what they're trying to do.

When you were at backward point but weren't captain, did you ever move yourself three yards squarer or finer on a hunch?
All the time. I used to play around with angles a lot. Not just at backward point. Especially at midwicket for the offspinner, a position I used to love playing around with, trying to cut out the mid-on gap and the drive down the ground for one. I'd play a game within a game, try and make him do something different. The more you have fielders who are thinking for themselves out in the middle, trying to beat the batsman, it can only be great for the team.

The direct hit - from backward point, in particular - is a particularly difficult skill. What sort of practice did you do for that?
I was a big believer in getting your hips aligned to the target. It's something I did with England [as coach]: talking about getting the hips rather than the shoulders aligned. The hips are the things that will get your shoulders aligned, rather than picking the ball and thinking "left arm out". To me, the best fielders in the world are the ones who've got quick feet, who are very strong in the thighs, and who pick the ball up and shift their alignment with the hips.

Would you say learning on immaculate, "bowling green" outfields, such as you get here in England, is better than training on bumpy grounds, where you have to watch the ball more closely?
Well, I'm also a big believer that confidence is the key thing, no matter what discipline in cricket. So I always thought you should practice on good outfields and gain the confidence of picking up the ball cleanly.

It was interesting being out in Bangladesh, under lighting and with the ball getting very wet, how that knocked people's confidence very quickly. They are probably the hardest fielding conditions you will ever find yourself in. Not in terms of a bobbly outfield or anything, but that ball feels an extra ounce heavier when it's hitting the hands. It feels like a bar of soap when it's hitting the hands and when you're throwing it, it's slipping out of the fingers. The accuracy goes. It's almost like fielding drunk. We'd actually done some brilliant fielding out in West Indies. But once one person started dropping it, it just sort of filtered through the team. Confidence is a huge thing.

Is there a way to practise diving without doing yourself an injury?
Preferably you'll have had a bit of rain, and there'll not be so much friction on the grass. It's certainly a lot more enjoyable when you're not hurting yourself in practice! So maybe you can wet the area you're going to be practising a little bit. But we're definitely trying to get away from diving on your shoulders - so practice the rotation in mid-air when you're diving, if you can. Or if the ball's going along the floor, you're using your hip areas to land on, and using your forearms and palms to take most of the impact, rather than higher up where you're going to get hurt.

Aside from backward point, you also fielded slip a fair bit - for the spinners and at third slip for the seamers. Did you watch the bat or the ball?
I've always been a big believer in watching the ball wherever I was fielding. I always liked to keep my eye on the ball as much as possible.

"The ones I used to like most were the ones where you'd hang in the air for a length of time and think, 'I can get my body in a position to catch this.' That moment when it does actually stick is an unbelievable feeling"

What guidelines did you have regarding where you stood for the spinners?
Funnily enough, I used to practise fielding to a spinner standing five yards from the bat. In a match it would be seven yards, sometimes eight, and at Perth I was eight and a half yards back, which was incredible, really. People say, "Surely not, that's just ridiculous". But it was generally round about seven yards away. And depending how much it was turning, you'd work out your angles. If it wasn't turning much you'd generally get it a little tighter to the wicketkeeper's pockets.

Did you ever fancy short leg?
I actually did it in Sri Lanka in 2003. I got a few bruises too. I actually enjoyed doing short leg to the spinners. It's one of those positions that your team-mates really appreciate you doing. When you've got confidence in the bowler you can get right in there and have a bit of a chirp as well. It's quite a fun place to stand.

How big a thing is that in a fielding unit - not just the chatter, but strong body language? One immediately thinks of you stepping in to confront Matt Hayden at Edgbaston in 2005.
I think the verbal stuff is dying away now because of the introduction of stump mics. When I first started playing international cricket in the early 2000s, chirping was more a kind of a fun thing. Now I don't think it goes on as much, because people are worried that if they say something slightly wrong it can be blown way out of proportion. But I think body language is the key thing in the field. If you've got 11 players out there with strong body language, you don't really have to say too much.

With the Matty Hayden incident, we wanted to stand up to Australia in all departments. We wanted to be aggressive in terms of body language. But that was something off the cuff. It was impulsive. There was just that moment when you think, "He's taken a step too far here. I need to step in and make a point to him."

What do you think is the most difficult type of catch?
I think the low and hard ones are the toughest ones, the ones where your hands haven't got anywhere to go. You've got to get a real strong hand on it and get it right in the middle of the palms. The ones I used to like most were the ones where you'd hang in the air for a length of time and think, "I can get my body in a position to catch this." That moment when it does actually stick is an unbelievable feeling.

Matty Hayden again.
Yeah. A lot of people ask whether that was my best catch. I actually think it was Devon Smith at Barbados in the World Cup game. That was probably my best catch, because I covered more ground than the Matty Hayden one. When he hit it I thought, "Oh, I'm probably not going to get this, but I'm going to give it a try", and just at the last second I gave it a kind of extra oomph to grab it and it went straight into the middle of my hands.

Was there ever a time when you had dropped a couple and didn't fancy a catch coming to you?
Yeah, lots. There's times you have those little spells where you don't want the ball to come to you. As I said, the mental side is so crucial with fielding. The confidence you get when you're catching them all the time. You just want the ball to come time and time again. But it only takes one catch where you think, "That felt so easy, why didn't I catch it?" Every catch is different. When you catch a catch at slip, you're happy you've caught it, no matter how quickly it's come. It's not an easy place to field.

So what would be your fielding dream team?
Well, AB de Villiers would certainly be in there, probably at point. Keeper: if it's solely on keeping, then probably Jack Russell. Slips: Graeme Smith was very good at first slip, Jacques Kallis, and Marcus Trescothick is a very safe pair of hands. Gully: I couldn't put myself in there, could I? Go on, I'll go in there at gully. Short leg: I think Hashim Amla's pretty good in there. Extra cover: Faf du Plessis is very good. Mid-on? I think Chris Jordan's an exceptional fielder, so he'll go in. And a strong arm at long leg: I'll probably go Ben Stokes or Flintoff.

Scott Oliver tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • landl47 on July 15, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    Colly's too young to remember him, but Colin Bland of SA in the 1960s was an amazing fielder. These days he wouldn't have stood out so much, but back then he was by far the best fielder in the game. He fielded at cover and saved 20-30 runs a game because batsmen were afraid to run if the ball went anywhere near him. He'd pick it up and throw it on the run and was extremely accurate as well as quick.

    It's also often forgotten what a good fielder Garry Sobers was. Although he could field anywhere, his best position was leg slip/leg gully, very difficult position to field as the batsman's body often masks the ball. Sobers would stand there looking completely relaxed and then when the batsman flicked the ball round the corner Sobers would be on it like a cat pouncing on a mouse. Batsmen who thought they'd played a perfectly good shot would find themselves walking off.

    I was somewhere between Monty Panesar and Monty Python myself, so I love to see really good fielding.

  • on July 17, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    Simon Katich would have to be short leg. One of the only players to ever demand that fielding position.

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:57 GMT

    The names that come to my mind are from a while ago...Peter Walker of Glams at short leg I think who held a few records in his time, Tony Lock of Surrey (leg slip), and Mickey Stewart also of Surrey. Ian Botham was a terrific fielder, apart from everything else. And only one comment so farabout Monty Panesar? Good bowler, but he wouldn't be in any team of mine on account of his fielding - I'm surprised he gets picked to play first class cricket let alone England!

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:51 GMT

    Yes, all the players named in comments above were outstanding and hard to seperate. I saw Colin Bland and he was very good but also Edie Barlow at first slip and Kallis at second. P. Sheahan at cover point ....

  • EdwinD on July 16, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    @RoshanF The game was England v Rest of the World 1987. I think you can find it on Youtube...

    Other great fielders were Viv Richards (3 direct runouts in the WC Final 1975), Clive Lloyd, Mark Waugh, Jonty Rhodes - who can forget the 1992 WC poster - 2/3 of the world is covered by water, the rest by Jonty Rhodes'.

    It's difficult to gauge the best catchers, if only there was a stat that showed % of catches taken...

  • on July 16, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    Very hard to leave Rhodes and Ponting out of a fielding dream team. Andrew Symonds was also incredible for someone his size, while Brett Lee was one of the best outfielders in the game with the distance he covered and throwing precision. Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh also two of the greatest slip fielders of all time

  • RoshanF on July 16, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    Some great fielders dot Colllingwoods roll call. But to me the best fielder cum catcher cum runout "effecter" was the panther like Roger Harper. For about 8 - 9 years of his career he was incredible. Not for him the regular dives, which he could do superbly, but his amazing wiry like arms just reached out and snapped balls that surely would have needed a dive from most. An incredible piece of fielding and running out incident off his own bowling comes to mind. I think it was in an England vs Windies test somewhere in the late 80s. Gooch plays a firm drive off Harper and sets out for a run thinking the ball would go past the Harper. But lo and behold, Harper with that astonishing grace he had, puts his right arm down picks the ball and fires at the stumps running out a totally bewildered Graham Gooch who had scored a hundred. Never seen anything like that. But there were numerous other out-of-this-world efforts by Harper who surely is underestimated due to not looking flashy enough.

  • on July 16, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Where is Md Azaruddin in any position, Rahul Dravid and Mahela Jayvardhane in slip ?..Forgotten?

  • SouthPaw on July 16, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    How can Collingwood forget Jhonty Rhodes, Dravid, Warner, Viv Richards, Solkar, Mark Waugh, Bob Taylor, etc?

  • legfinedeep on July 16, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    It's hard to take any article or interview about fielding seriously if it does not mention the father of modern fielding - one Jonty Rhodes. Before Jonty burst onto the scene after SA's readmission to cricket, batting and bowling were the only important parts of playing cricket. He completely revolutionized that third facet of the game, and sadly by the time he came onto the international scene he was still not at his best. I remember going to Kingsmead for the Benson and Hedges day night games, and there was nothing that went past him. Many great fielders have come after him but he set the bar.

  • landl47 on July 15, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    Colly's too young to remember him, but Colin Bland of SA in the 1960s was an amazing fielder. These days he wouldn't have stood out so much, but back then he was by far the best fielder in the game. He fielded at cover and saved 20-30 runs a game because batsmen were afraid to run if the ball went anywhere near him. He'd pick it up and throw it on the run and was extremely accurate as well as quick.

    It's also often forgotten what a good fielder Garry Sobers was. Although he could field anywhere, his best position was leg slip/leg gully, very difficult position to field as the batsman's body often masks the ball. Sobers would stand there looking completely relaxed and then when the batsman flicked the ball round the corner Sobers would be on it like a cat pouncing on a mouse. Batsmen who thought they'd played a perfectly good shot would find themselves walking off.

    I was somewhere between Monty Panesar and Monty Python myself, so I love to see really good fielding.

  • on July 17, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    Simon Katich would have to be short leg. One of the only players to ever demand that fielding position.

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:57 GMT

    The names that come to my mind are from a while ago...Peter Walker of Glams at short leg I think who held a few records in his time, Tony Lock of Surrey (leg slip), and Mickey Stewart also of Surrey. Ian Botham was a terrific fielder, apart from everything else. And only one comment so farabout Monty Panesar? Good bowler, but he wouldn't be in any team of mine on account of his fielding - I'm surprised he gets picked to play first class cricket let alone England!

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:51 GMT

    Yes, all the players named in comments above were outstanding and hard to seperate. I saw Colin Bland and he was very good but also Edie Barlow at first slip and Kallis at second. P. Sheahan at cover point ....

  • EdwinD on July 16, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    @RoshanF The game was England v Rest of the World 1987. I think you can find it on Youtube...

    Other great fielders were Viv Richards (3 direct runouts in the WC Final 1975), Clive Lloyd, Mark Waugh, Jonty Rhodes - who can forget the 1992 WC poster - 2/3 of the world is covered by water, the rest by Jonty Rhodes'.

    It's difficult to gauge the best catchers, if only there was a stat that showed % of catches taken...

  • on July 16, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    Very hard to leave Rhodes and Ponting out of a fielding dream team. Andrew Symonds was also incredible for someone his size, while Brett Lee was one of the best outfielders in the game with the distance he covered and throwing precision. Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh also two of the greatest slip fielders of all time

  • RoshanF on July 16, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    Some great fielders dot Colllingwoods roll call. But to me the best fielder cum catcher cum runout "effecter" was the panther like Roger Harper. For about 8 - 9 years of his career he was incredible. Not for him the regular dives, which he could do superbly, but his amazing wiry like arms just reached out and snapped balls that surely would have needed a dive from most. An incredible piece of fielding and running out incident off his own bowling comes to mind. I think it was in an England vs Windies test somewhere in the late 80s. Gooch plays a firm drive off Harper and sets out for a run thinking the ball would go past the Harper. But lo and behold, Harper with that astonishing grace he had, puts his right arm down picks the ball and fires at the stumps running out a totally bewildered Graham Gooch who had scored a hundred. Never seen anything like that. But there were numerous other out-of-this-world efforts by Harper who surely is underestimated due to not looking flashy enough.

  • on July 16, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Where is Md Azaruddin in any position, Rahul Dravid and Mahela Jayvardhane in slip ?..Forgotten?

  • SouthPaw on July 16, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    How can Collingwood forget Jhonty Rhodes, Dravid, Warner, Viv Richards, Solkar, Mark Waugh, Bob Taylor, etc?

  • legfinedeep on July 16, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    It's hard to take any article or interview about fielding seriously if it does not mention the father of modern fielding - one Jonty Rhodes. Before Jonty burst onto the scene after SA's readmission to cricket, batting and bowling were the only important parts of playing cricket. He completely revolutionized that third facet of the game, and sadly by the time he came onto the international scene he was still not at his best. I remember going to Kingsmead for the Benson and Hedges day night games, and there was nothing that went past him. Many great fielders have come after him but he set the bar.

  • on July 16, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    Thank you for qualifying that Mr Oliver, the interview is excellent

  • on July 16, 2014, 1:49 GMT

    Amazing that no current NZers are on anyone's list

  • Rowayton on July 16, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    Landl47 is right about Bland - he also, I think, revolutionised fielding with the underarm/sidearm throw, which took a bit off how long the ball took to come back. And I still haven't seen a better slip fielder than Bobby Simpson.

  • Dilmah82 on July 16, 2014, 0:32 GMT

    I'm suprised Collingwood has forgotten or left out some of the greats he played against in his time. I can understand him leaving the earlier generations like the Bland, Sobers etc out but how did he leave out the likes of Jonty Rhodes and Mark Waugh amongst others

  • Vinod_Fab on July 15, 2014, 23:58 GMT

    This name cannot be forgotten ever -- Ricky "Punter" Ponting ..!! His fielding stands apart from all..!!.. He won the fielder of the year when there was jonty who was going crazy that time..!!.. Punter can field at any position and he just raised the standards for fielding.. And off course Mark Waugh in slips

  • pa99 on July 15, 2014, 23:31 GMT

    No Colin Bland, Clive Lloyd, MAK Pataudi, Eknath Solkar, Jonty Rhodes, Ricky Ponting .....

    In the slips we cannot go past Bobby Simpson and Phil Sharpe

    and may I also throw in a very versatile fielder - good outfielder and excellent short-leg of days gone by - Rusi Surti

  • Vinod_Fab on July 15, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    This name cannot be forgotten ever -- Ricky "Punter" Ponting ..!! His fielding stands apart from all..!!.. He won the fielder of the year when there was jonty who was going crazy that time..!!.. Punter can field at any position and he just raised the standards for fielding..

  • testcricket_lover on July 15, 2014, 20:03 GMT

    No ponting in the list.....That's ridiculous.....name a position he cant field...He is the most complete fielder i have seen.

  • AltafPatel on July 15, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    JRevised eleven. Jonty, Gibbs, AB, Sobers, Azhar, Pataudi, Collingwood, Logie, Kallis, Ponting, and Boucher. Mark Waugh, Brian McMillan, Kirmani, Yuvraj are unfortunate to miss eleven.

  • AltafPatel on July 15, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    Jonty not in eleven !!?? Gibbs, Ponting can also not be missed. This should be eleven: Jonty, Gibbs, AB, Sobers, Azhar, Yuvraj, Collingwood, Logie, Kallis, Mark Waugh, and Boucher.

  • jackiethepen on July 15, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    Amla at short leg? Try harder Colly.

  • Rumy1 on July 15, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Well my dream XI would have Harper, Jonty, Solkar, Richards, Azhar, Mark Waugh, Richards, DeVilliers, Symonds, Logie, and Lloyd

  • dorothydix on July 15, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    Collingwood seems to be implying that `Soft hands` used to be the rule for catching. Like today it was always horses for courses so things haven't changed,and so sometimes you used firm hands. On the whole the ball is hit harder because of the bats these days. However, there have always been players who have hit the ball very very hard. The West Indies had Lloyd, Richards and Greenidge amongst others in the 70`s and 80`s as an example.

  • paddles952 on July 15, 2014, 15:00 GMT

    chris harris was pretty damn fine... think this the cover fielder hawk someone was refering to but he usually fielding point too...

  • MiddleStump on July 15, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    Solkar is the gold standard in close in fielding. All the more since he fielded without any padding or helmet at short leg. Colin Bland and Jonty Rhodes are in their own class in the outfield. But Collingwood may not have seen them play.

  • on July 15, 2014, 14:17 GMT

    Jonty Rhodes, Colin Bland, Paul Sheehan, Richards, Harper, Lloyd, Hooper. Think overall. Never only now. There was a New Zealand player who patrolled the covers like a hawk.

  • on July 15, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Jonty, Andrew Symonds, Mark Waugh, Viv Richards, Greg Chappell. Throw Mark Taylor in at slip. Gus Logie at short leg and then probably the greatest fielder of all, Roger Harper. The man was phenomenal.

  • on July 15, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    One of the best all round fielders I have ever seen. Is Andrew Symonds. He could field anywhere. He could run down a ball quick. Dived many times to stop runs. Had an very strong arm. He also took some awesome catches during his career. Look on YouTube at some of his catches. They were Increadable!

  • on July 15, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd.

  • IndianInnerEdge on July 15, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    @landl47 - Colin Bland of SAF was exceptional, also good with his direct hit runouts, he used to let the ball pass him (at cover/extra c) and then pull it back, hoodwinking the batsmen to think 'ah misfield, here is a 2' and drill it to the keeper/direct hit......Sir Gary - remember seeing a video cassette of a series of probably late 60's in england, he was fielding so close to the batsman and took 2 catches almost off the batsman's boot laces with the feline grace of a panther inmotion....:)

  • kuldeep1109 on July 15, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    Collingwood's dream fielding XI is a joke!!!

  • on July 15, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    The best bit of fielding I've seen is from Derek Randall at the age of 39. It was a one day county match and the ball was hit to square leg. Randall chased after it, picked it up in one swoop and without looking back at the stumps he threw the ball at them, scoring a direct hit.

  • on July 15, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    No Rahul Dravid???? Are you serious??? Rahul Dravid was the best slip fielder.

  • on July 15, 2014, 11:04 GMT

    As the interviewer, I perhaps ought to carefully place a damp tea-towel on some of the indignation by saying, first, that the 'dream team' was asking for current players, and second that the unfailingly polite Colly was somewhat put on the spot and denied a reasonable amount of deliberation time. It is by far the least interesting part of the conversation, in any case.

  • on July 15, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    Dilshan & Mahanama should certainly have selected

  • on July 15, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    Where's Jonty Rhodes? Ridiculous without the greatest fielder ever! Azharuddin was another great fielder who lived ahead of his times. At the time of his retirement he had more catches than anyone in ODIs (and probably in tests too, not sure).

  • RogerC on July 15, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    Solkar at short leg - all time great. Roger Harper, Mark Waugh, Jonty Rhodes missed the list of Colly, really sad. India's best outfielder is Mohd Azharuddin by miles. Raina and Kohli are very good, but won't come near Azhar in talent.

  • Vaughanographic on July 15, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    There are so many fielders it would be hard to have an all -time team - so how about an all-time South african team.. that's good enough right?

    Dave Richardson to keep (very tidy) Graeme Smith 1st slip Brian McMilllan 2nd slip (what a fielder!) Kallis -3rd slip

    Gibbs at gully

    Rhodes point

    Hansie Cronje Mid-off (to advise the bowler - and one of the most accurate throws Ive seen)

    Shaun Pollock at fine leg (bullet arm and could field slip if needed) Colin Bland square leg

    Faf midwicket (and ball polisher)

  • Nadeem1976 on July 15, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    A No Johnty Rhodes name in the team. Ah B grade team selection. sad.

  • mshyder on July 15, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    why does his dream fielding team consists of English and South Africans only ?

  • on July 15, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    People forget that Ian Botham and G Hick were good slippers. Tom Moody had the most powerful arm I have seen.

    AB is probably the best all round I have seen.

    Nice to see someone mention a "forgotten" cricketer too like Roger Harper, who was positively feline in movement.

    It is not saying much from my memories anyway, but is Virat India's best ever fielder?

  • ghostkadost on July 15, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @landl47, @Greatest_Game, Well Colin Bland played the game much before I was born but I have heard enough of this instance when he ran out a batsman through his legs. So he must have been some somebody really special. Also my father waxes eloquently about the close-in prowess of Eknath Solkar, perhaps the only Indian who can figure in the list of all time great fielders.

  • SICHO on July 15, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Ok everybody calm down, this is Colly's best fielding 11. It's his, not the world's favourite fielding 11, so cut the whole "he left so and so out". Obviously whoever he left out weren't his favourite.

  • MrGarreth on July 15, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Wish Pollard's name would stop coming up in the list of best fielders. He is far from it. Just because you can take the odd spectacular one does not make you a great fielder. He drops more than I can count and misfields frequently. Plus I doubt the best fielders of all time would have dropped three chance off three consecutive balls against the same batsman (Hussey). He reminds me of how people would say Cech was better than Van der Sar because he dived all over the place. Van der Sar didn't need to dive all over the place because of his calmness and anticipation. He broke tons of records including the clean sheet record and only dived for the ball when he had to. Jonty stopped runs just with his presence. He literally eliminated an entire scoring area for a batsman. Don't know how you can get better than that. No one stopped more runs than him. Ponting was better at run outs.

  • Jimmyrob83 on July 15, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    Ricky Ponting was the best allround fielder that I have seen. The amount of times he hit the stumps was remarkable.

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Best Fielder would have to be Ponting no one can argue that!! Just Youtube Ponting Run outs!!! McGrath why a freak fielder Strongest arm and always had the ball over the stumps from the Boundary, and Lets not forget Symonds just a freak!!

  • Greatest_Game on July 15, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    @ landl47. We are showing our ages. Whenever anyone says great fielder I think of Colin Bland. I remember listening to the radio and hearing I think is was Charles Fortune describing how Bland ran out a batsman. The batsman was running away from him, between Bland & the stumps, so Bland threw it on the bounce, through the batsman's legs!

    I never saw it, but that image has stayed seared in my mind for some 50 years.

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    @Tommytuckersaffa. The reason is there is so many SA in collys team is because Australia gave him pelters when they played so it's obvious he wasn't gonna put any in his team! As everybody knows Taylor , Mark Waugh were great slip fielders and are up there with most catches taken and Ricky Ponting who was the only player to rival Jonty Rhodes. Imagine a slip cordon with a Smith and Taylor!

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    ABD, Mccullum, Raina, Gilly, Collingwood, Ponting, Afridi, K.Pollard will definetely make in to the modern best fielders list who played more international matches.There will be many good fielders if you start considering them from county or leagues..

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    Hard for me to imagine a Fielding top XI without Mark Waugh in it. Everyone else makes excellent suggestions and certainly put forward a great many top class fielders, but for me, he's the first name on the list.

  • on July 15, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    Best fielding 11 of players 1974 on Healy wk , M. Taylor (slips), Mark Waugh,Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, K Pollard, Roger Harper, J Rhodes, AB DeVilliers, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 15, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    Best slipper is Kallis. No question. I cant remember him dropping one. Good to see so many saffas in Colly's team.

  • MasterCricketer on July 15, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    Completely agree with Prashanth Joshi.. This fielding 11 is rubbish!! Where are Dravid, Ponting, Clarke.. Hayden was excellent too!! Cue-the catch he took while at leg slip off Justin Kemp(playing for Chennai Super Kings)! Jayawardene and younis miss out too..Nah! Way too brief, this 11 of his...

  • SpartaArmy on July 15, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    Thank God, Indian friends didn't complain about not picking Sachin. It is his dream team, for GOD sake. Why are you worried about not picking Jhonty?

  • on July 15, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    No Jonty Rhodes at backward point? One fielder who could be exceptional anywhere in the 30 yard circle was Mohd Azharuddin. Two other superb all round fielders, whose this skill is often forgotten because of their other skills are Kapil Dev and Viv Richards. These two could do magic with their fielding anywhere.

  • on July 15, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    so the best fielders are all from South Africa and England !!

    In slips no Dravid or Jayawardene or younis Khan, no Ricky Ponting, no Michael Clarke at backward point, no Pollard who is arguably the best fielder, no dwayne Bravo, no Kohli, no Raina, no exceptional fielders from New Zealand which is the best fielding side in the world

  • on July 15, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Not having Jonty Rhodes anywhere? For the fielding XI. Interesting...

  • on July 15, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Not having Jonty Rhodes anywhere? For the fielding XI. Interesting...

  • on July 15, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    so the best fielders are all from South Africa and England !!

    In slips no Dravid or Jayawardene or younis Khan, no Ricky Ponting, no Michael Clarke at backward point, no Pollard who is arguably the best fielder, no dwayne Bravo, no Kohli, no Raina, no exceptional fielders from New Zealand which is the best fielding side in the world

  • on July 15, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    No Jonty Rhodes at backward point? One fielder who could be exceptional anywhere in the 30 yard circle was Mohd Azharuddin. Two other superb all round fielders, whose this skill is often forgotten because of their other skills are Kapil Dev and Viv Richards. These two could do magic with their fielding anywhere.

  • SpartaArmy on July 15, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    Thank God, Indian friends didn't complain about not picking Sachin. It is his dream team, for GOD sake. Why are you worried about not picking Jhonty?

  • MasterCricketer on July 15, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    Completely agree with Prashanth Joshi.. This fielding 11 is rubbish!! Where are Dravid, Ponting, Clarke.. Hayden was excellent too!! Cue-the catch he took while at leg slip off Justin Kemp(playing for Chennai Super Kings)! Jayawardene and younis miss out too..Nah! Way too brief, this 11 of his...

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 15, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    Best slipper is Kallis. No question. I cant remember him dropping one. Good to see so many saffas in Colly's team.

  • on July 15, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    Best fielding 11 of players 1974 on Healy wk , M. Taylor (slips), Mark Waugh,Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, K Pollard, Roger Harper, J Rhodes, AB DeVilliers, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    Hard for me to imagine a Fielding top XI without Mark Waugh in it. Everyone else makes excellent suggestions and certainly put forward a great many top class fielders, but for me, he's the first name on the list.

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    ABD, Mccullum, Raina, Gilly, Collingwood, Ponting, Afridi, K.Pollard will definetely make in to the modern best fielders list who played more international matches.There will be many good fielders if you start considering them from county or leagues..

  • on July 15, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    @Tommytuckersaffa. The reason is there is so many SA in collys team is because Australia gave him pelters when they played so it's obvious he wasn't gonna put any in his team! As everybody knows Taylor , Mark Waugh were great slip fielders and are up there with most catches taken and Ricky Ponting who was the only player to rival Jonty Rhodes. Imagine a slip cordon with a Smith and Taylor!