This article is part of "The complete guide to cricket field settings" series.
This field is effective in club matches, especially in England. It works well in a number of different conditions to a number of different types of medium pace bowlers (swing, seam, slow or fast). You can use it to both take wickets and restrict scoring in longer format games.
Bowling to this field
Assuming there is something in the conditions for the bowler (swing or seam), the standard 'corridor of uncertainty' line is best (off stump and up to 15cm outside) with the length somewhere between 11-14m from the bowler's popping crease.
This tactic brings in the keeper, slip and gulley for edges. It also keeps bowled/LBW a real possibility. The packed cover area can lead to wickets by restricting scoring and batsman extending their range of shots too much or losing concentration.
This is very much a compromise field. You will see batsman 'get lucky' more with balls not going to hand. Also a well set batsman can find the gaps easily. If this is happening you may want to try some variations:
- Yorker. Aim for the batsmen's feet. Classically this swings in but straight is just as useful.
- Cutters. Running your fingers down the side of the ball slows the pace and can cause the ball to drastically cut off the pitch leading to the batsman playing down the wrong line.
- Slower ball. If you are the faster end of medium pace you can try a slower ball. The key to fooling the batsman is to bowl it slightly fuller than usual but with no change of action. They will go through the shot early and hit it to extra cover or mid off.
This field is excellent for covering the odd bad ball, there are some exceptions though
- Short of a length/long hop. Anything too short (around 11m or closer to the bowler's popping crease) can be cut or pulled easily by most batsmen. The better the back foot player, the closer they can cut and pull giving less room you have for error.
- Half volley length. Most drivable balls (over 14m from the bowler's popping crease) have good outfield protection but there is no boundary cover so penetrating the infield leads to runs. Even wide half volleys that catch the edge may not go to hand with just one slip in place.
- Bowlers at the slower end of medium pace can bring third man and fine leg up to saving one. You can then move extra cover to catching as a short extra or 2nd slip.
- Outswing only bowlers should have a second slip instead of extra cover.
- Inswing only bowlers may prefer a short leg and/or short midwicket to replace gulley, third man or midwicket.
- Gulley may be better in front of the wicket on the off side on slower pitches.
- The wicketkeeper can stand up to pressure the batsman, especially if he/she is using their feet or standing out of the crease.
Batting against this field
Batsmen will have no fear of the pace of the bowler so can wait for the bad ball with confidence. Make sure you punish anything short in particular as this is a relatively undefended area. Play balls off your pads behind square for ones and twos. Drive with caution.
The most dangerous time is when you have just arrived at the wicket or the bowler has just come on. If the bowler is moving the ball, look to play yourself in carefully. Play straight defensively and look to leave anything wide initially.
After you have got a feel for the pace and movement you can free up a little. If the bowler is tying you down then you can try standing out of your crease to upset his length. If the pitch is true you can also hit into the gaps over the top of cover and midwicket.
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