From the 6 year old beginner to the established Academy cricketer, here the 5 most common mistakes I see everyone making in the field from time to time.
Maybe they are small but all are crucial as a mistake has bigger consequences.
One of the keys to being a good fielder is that you stay focused through the day and don’t let these mistakes slip in. Never think you are too experienced or confident to make them. Keep your concentration in the field and work to support your bowler.
1. The reverse long-barrier
Some people do it from bad habit others do it from bad body positioning.
The premise of the long barrier is to build the biggest wall you can to prevent the ball from passing you; so in theory any big shape you can create works.
But the ultimate long-barrier is one that allows the fielder to return the ball as quickly as possible; as most long barriers are performed in the deep where an extra run from a poor return is possible.
It’s level one coaching, but a trick that so many people miss.
Right handers need to have their left knee on the ground in the long-barrier (and vice versa for left handers).
Doing the long-barrier the wrong way around puts the fielder in an unnatural position to throw, giving away another run to a sharp batting pair.
2. Looking in the wrong place
Do you look at the bowler or batsman on delivery of the ball?
Fielders behind square; watch the bowler.
When fielding behind square, the ball comes from the edge for the bat. So by watching the ball your brain and eyes are able to keep up with the pace of the ball as well as anticipate any edge.
Fielders in front of the square; watch the batsman.
Because the ball is hit in the opposite direction the ball after it’s bowled, the brain and eyes will have to react to a complete change in direction and more difficultly, judge the pace at which the ball is travelling in this opposite direction.
3. Standing in the wrong place
I’ve seen this cardinal sin at first-class level; allowing the batsman to take a quick single to you in the infield, especially if you were told to prevent it.
Don’t assume that every position has a set distance from the bat, this changes with every batsman.
But the distance will also vary with the situation.
In game situations where singles are just as valuable as boundaries the need for preventing these singles are greater.
If boundaries are required, the fielder can afford to press back slightly. The batsman will always be looking to hit the ball hard and the odd stolen single is less important.
4. Holding back an appeal
Always appeal on reaction. Train yourself to appeal on your instant gut reaction.
So many players simply never appeal regardless of their fielding position; it is just their personality not to be loud.
This is especially true of younger players unsure of themselves.
But go for it; if you think it’s out appeal. Chances are that if you think it is close, the bowler probably thinks it’s closer!
5. Ignoring the non-striker
Just because the batsman has hit the ball and it’s been fielded, doesn’t mean it’s a dot ball.
Most batsman will back up, some more than others.
So why not run him out?
It is not unsportsmanlike to run the non-striker out. If it was unsportsmanlike, then backing-up would be deemed unsportsmanlike.
Always communicate to your team mate who is covering your potential throw first.
Do it quietly between overs; or if it is you backing up, use discreet hand signal to the fielders on the other side of the wicket that you are available to back-up the throw.
It’s one of those chances you will only get once. The batsman will be aware of his overzealous backing-up now and the second chance of a run out will be rare.