Fielding is often recognized as the least entertaining aspect of cricket. A tumbling stop at backward point is all well and good but it doesn’t have the glamour of a lofted cover drive or an in-swinger that knocks out the middle stump.
But whether you love it or hate it, fielding is something we all have to do, so here is an alternative guide to the best fielding positions:
The best place to field in the team is slip.
You stand still for the whole game and look incredibly important while maintaining a sense of self importance that has the opposition thinking: ‘he must be their gun bat’.
Fielding at slip allows you to give oohs and ahhs as the ball hoops past the edge of the bat making you seem like a true cricket connoisseur. But perhaps the best thing about standing at slip are the catches.
In village cricket a catch at slip is incredibly rare either because the slipper is not concentrating or more likely they’re an old codger who can’t see the ball well and is only at slip because he’s immobile. This means that any catch taken at slip no matter how regulation immediately becomes incredible. Take a catch at slip and you’ll be able to live off it for years.
Verdict: Don’t have to run and any catch you take is automatically 1000 times better because ‘it was at slip’.
This position is ideal if you are friendly and can’t go forty overs without talking to someone. Not only is square leg an active fielding position (particularly if your bowler insists on bowling long hops) it is also where the square leg umpire stands.
While in international cricket conversations between players and umpires are scarce, in a club cricket fixtures they are the staple. The square leg umpire tends to be from the opposition and will probably want to be umpiring even less than you want to be fielding. This provides the perfect opportunity for you to talk to him about literally anything.
Yes, you’ll be running back and forth to the boundary twice an over to collect the ball when the old bloke who doesn’t spin it comes on bowling pies, but at least you’ll have someone to moan about it to.
Verdict: If you don’t like talking to your own team mates but do like talking then square leg is the place for you.
The position often taken by the pretty boy of the team.
Cover might be the position for you if you enjoy Hollywood dives and feigning to throw the ball when the batsman is well within his crease. In club cricket particularly, the fielder at cover will often be young, athletic and one of the better players in the team and don’t they know it.
The position allows you to showcase your ability to dive in any direction at a moment’s notice as well as being at the forefront of most of the action. If you’re looking to get involved and you rate yourself you’ll probably find yourself at cover sooner or later.
Verdict: Cover is perfect if you’re the kind of guy who puts hair gel on before taking to the field.
Hear me out…
Fine leg to fine leg is usually seen as the walk of shame in between overs. But, if you’re not great then this position is a godsend.
Some fielders enjoy being in the thick of the action (see cover), but some of us prefer to get through the innings without dropping any catches. Picture the scene: you are fielding at point and the batsman who is on 60 odd is threatening to take the game away from you. Your angry, middle-aged quick steams in and forces an error with a short ball that flies off a thickish edge to you at backward point. You see the ball flying towards you, the seam spinning and you hear the loud cry of catch from your captain. You cup your hands as the ball approaches, only for the ball to spin out of your grasp and hit the floor. You throw the ball back, put your head in your hands and end up watching the bloke you just dropped score a match winning century.
Suddenly the thought of doing absolutely nothing for an innings seems somewhat more appealing doesn’t it?
Verdict: Ask to be at fine leg if you can’t field / want to get in your captain’s good books.
Once again, you may be reading this and questioning how fielding at silly point can be a good thing. You are in imminent danger of being hit in all kinds of sensitive areas from close range with a hard ball of leather, and you have to sweat under a helmet for large periods of time.
It takes a special kind of person to enjoy silly point, but that person makes the position their own and they love it. Every team has a resident madman. Usually they are Australian and they’re the kind of bloke that you hate if you’re playing against him, but love if you’re playing with him. He loves silly point for two main reasons.
First, it allows him to be as close as humanly possible to the 15 year old who he’s going to sledge until he either starts crying or gets out. Second, he enjoys the adrenaline rush that comes with the possibility of ending the afternoon in an ambulance. If you have a penchant for danger and a big mouth get yourself into silly point (there won’t exactly be a queue lining up to field there).
Verdict: No concern for personal safety? Want to be in the batsmen’s ear for the whole game? Go silly point mate.