Field settings: Slow Left Arm spin, old ball, turning wicket, long format
This article is part of "The complete guide to cricket field settings" series.
This is a standard and easily customised field for the orthodox left arm finger spinner bowling to a right handed batsmen. With accurate bowling and plenty of turn the spinner should be able to use this field and it's variations to bowl a side out.
You will notice the field split is 6/3 to the off side. This is because the ball is turning from leg to off making better batsmen play 'with the spin' into the off side. Going with a 5/4 off side split can be dangerous as it leaves a gap somewhere on the off side for good batsman to exploit.
The classic left arm dismissals are bowled and caught behind as the batsman misjudges the turn. In order to do this the ball should be pitched up enough to encourage the drive and allow the ball to hit the top of off stump. On slower wickets this will be further up. Your line is best on middle to middle and off. On a pitch that really turns you may have to adjust your line to leg stump or outside to hit the stumps.
The close fielders put pressure on, making it hard to score from defensive nudges. If the batsman decides to take you on to remove these fielders you improve your chances of a catch or stumping.
Because of the angles and the uncertainty of spin, the stock ball alone ought to get plenty of wickets. You can also use:
- Flight. The ability to vary place the ball in the same spot but with different heights on the ball is very deceptive on any wicket. if the batsman is in a rhythm try a mixing in a flatter or loopier ball.
- Arm ball. The ball that drifts in to the right hander is an excellent way to bowl players. Pitch it further up and with an outside off line. If you use this variation a lot, consider a backward short leg to catch inside edges.
- Wide outside off stump. There is lots of protection in the covers, but too much width (especially short) has no cover in the deep.
- Long hops. Just short of a length is hard to get away, but genuine short balls can be hit to the unprotected boundaries.
- Move cover, extra cover or midwicket to a catching position.
- If the batsman sweeps or the ball is turning a lot, move square leg deeper for the top edge.
- Gulley and short cover can be moved into the ring allowing mid on and mid off can be moved deeper to defend the boundary.
This field is hard to penetrate for the technically correct batsman, but if you can boundaries are there to be had.
Defend with soft hands. Avoid pushing at the ball early on and knocking it into a close fielders hands. Look to play with the spin as much as possible, cutting anything short.
As you gain confidence, look to drive with care. It's generally safer to drive off the back foot where you can work the ball into either side. At first drive straight, but be prepared to open out into cover drives when you have a feel for the pace and turn of the wicket.
You can use your feet to upset the bowler's line but be watchful for variations in pace and flight to try and put you off your rhythm. When in doubt, play defensively.
Hitting over the top is an option but you would need to get to the ball on the half volley to smother the spin effectively.
Hitting across the line is best reserved for sweeping balls that are outside leg stump or pulling long hops. Some batsman will trust their eye to hit across other balls against the spin too. This is risky, but if it pays of you will force the bowler to rethink his strategy.