In a game that is full of stats, we are still searching for a way of assessing and measuring fielding effectiveness.
Our discussions about who the best fielders are is as subjective as it comes. We could all compile lists of our "favourite" fielders but no one can prove who is world class and who is not. It's a brilliant discussion; but no more than that.
A number of fielding specialists have begun to analyse a significant number of matches, live and retrospectively, to build up an idea of the types of qualities and statistical outputs that could be considered world class.
The ECB are doing some good work in this area and I know that Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa have also applied resource into fielding based performance analysis. It's about time too!
How can we assess fielding skill?
World class benchmarking
Let's have a look at some of the world class fielding stats from the specialists and see how they stack up against our perceptions and expectations:
- 90% Catching success rate (flat catches and high catches combined)
- 50% stump hitting success rate from 20 metres (aiming at 3 stumps)
- 75 mph+ throw
So what do you think?
I bet you're saying "I can do that?"
I'm sure you could manage a couple of those in isolation in a couple of practices yet the comeback questions may be:
- How do you know?
- When was the last time you had a practice that measured these areas?
- Can you repeat?
How do you record this kind of data in a fielding practice?
Let's take the stump hitting and catching stats in isolation and record the associated stats in a couple of ways.
We have an area set aside for stump hitting just off the square, a flat catching exercise next to the nets and another area set for high catching on the other side of the square. There are 3 groups are working concurrently at their fielding drills.
Whiteboard or Chalkboard
Place a whiteboard or chalkboard between the three fielding zones. As the groups rotate through the areas they have to write down their score for the previous fielding discipline.
The board is full by the end of the 3 disciplines. The Lead coach can then take a picture of the board and transfer that data to a spreadsheet in order to keep historical records and graphs to monitor performance over a period of time.
Google Docs and Forms
For those with smart-phones you can set up an online drop down menu form which records data as you go through each of the zones.
The form is uploaded into a google docs online spreadsheet. Once all the formulae and graphs are set up, the inputted data converts automatically into fielding based knowledge.
We presently use this method to monitor our fast bowlers workloads, drill effectiveness and speed progressions. We have just drawn up a fielding version which goes live next week.
Stats are good... honestly!
Fielding numbers are some of the best there are as they inspire each individual to get better.
Fielding is the only cricket discipline in which we are a true team, performing together. With that in mind, shouldn't we have a way of measuring individual training performance which in turn, influences. Give it a go.
Now you know some of the world class fielding benchmarks, go away and hit them.