Do you sometimes feel alone in the field?
There is the famous story of an English club player many years ago. He was sent to field on the boundary on a pitch with a large slope: A slope so steep that when he got to his position he could no longer see the action.
Undeterred by this he faithfully fielded in the same position all afternoon. Nothing came to him.
Nothing that is until suddenly he heard cries of 'catch!' and seeing a ball fly through the air to him he steadied himself under it. Upon taking the catch confidently he ran back up the slope to take the applause from his team mates.
He was met by the sight of eleven men he didn't recognise and his own captain walking off with a bat under his arm. Our man was so isolated that he had not realised the innings had changed and he had been fielding for the opposition.
The very opposite of good team fielding.
It's impossible to say if the story is true, but I have certainly played in teams where it could be possible.
A good fielding unit would never let that happen. Besides, it takes all the fun out of fielding (which should be fun when done right)
Field as a unit
What is the basic job of all fielders?
Stopping runs and taking catches, or to put it another way: Attack or defend.
The best way to go about this is to adopt a philosophy of trying to dominate the batsman together. The best fielding teams make batting seem very lonely with 11 psyched up fielders working together to force an error.
On the other hand, Batters also quickly pick up on a negative atmosphere where bowlers don't trust fielders and everyone is quiet.
How do you psychologically stay on top as a fielding team and avoid getting caught out by your own player?
- Decide on tactics. If you can before play, take 5 minutes to talk about the opposition and conditions. Work out what fielding tactics will work best for what players. If you don't get the time before play, chat about it as you walk out onto the field.
- Take personal responsibility. A positive atmosphere starts with individuals. It's hard to stay negative in a team where players are supporting good play, enjoying their fielding and talking tactics between overs. You also need to take responsibility for your own attitude.
- Be loyal. Everyone makes mistakes. Catches get dropped and balls are misfielded. You can use the stop technique to put your own mistakes out of your mind. You can also help others by supporting them when they make an error. There is nothing better than a bowler going up to a fielder who has just dropped an easy catch and telling him "never mind, catch the next one to make up for it".
- Move around. A simple trick the captain or bowler can use is to move players around positions. This keeps everyone on their toes (including the batsmen who have to keep an eye on where the strong fielders have moved to).
- Trigger your focus. It's easy to lose focus especially when the day is hot, the batting is dull and not much is coming your way. To avoid this, use triggers to switch on and off in a similar way to when you are batting. If you are in the deep you need slightly less focus than if you are up close, but never drift away completely.
Have you tried fielding as a unit? What are your team's fielding experiences? Leave a comment and let me know.
Image credit: mrs2fat