Pitchvision Academy
Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


The funny thing about fielding is that everyone says how important it is, but we practice it the least.

To try and redress that attitude we have drills and articles this week on slip catching and fielding on the boundary. Now you have no excuse to put off that fielding practice session.

We also discuss how you can work the ball around with tip and run tactics, Law changes and how to be a role model to others, no matter who you are.

Have a great  weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Fielding Drills: Slip catching nicks

This drill is part of the PitchVision Academy fielding drills series, for more in this series click here.

Purpose: A realistic way to practice slip catching for the whole cordon. This drill requires a well practiced coach to make it worthwhile.

Description: The feeder throws the ball hard so it reaches the coach at chest height, wide to the off side. The coach deflect cuts the ball with a bat into the slip cordon for catches. The slips return the ball to the feeder.

Safety note: This is an advanced drill where the ball is travelling very quickly. It’s vital players are ready before the ball is throw. The coach should also wear batting gloves.

Variations: Underarm throws can be used to simulate slip catches. A left handed coach can help slip catching to left handers. 

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Stop practicing your bowling (and other changes to the Laws of cricket)

Years ago, changes to the Laws of cricket changed the game.

Round arm allowed bowlers to increase their pace in the 1800’s. In the 1930’s, the Bodyline controversy caused fielding restrictions and the banning of the overuse of bouncers.

Dramatic stuff.

These days Law changes don’t have quite the impact, but they still happen.

Canny cricketers always take a moment to find out about the changes, just in case. You wouldn’t want to miss the modern equivalent of round-arm bowling would you?

Besides, its stuff you should know for when you do your umpiring stint.

So here is the amateur cricketers guide to the latest tweaks in the Laws by the MCC (all came into force for all levels of cricket on October 1st 2010).

You can’t delay your decision if you win the toss

It used to be the case that you could win the toss and not tell the opposition captain your decision until 10 minutes before play. It makes sense as an opener (bowler or batsman) that this isn’t very fair.

So now the decision has to be announced at the toss. And an umpire should be there.

Law 12.4 and 12.5

Bowling to mid off is banned

This is one I think will be ignored by a lot of club players. You know how you used to bowl a couple of balls to mid-off (or whoever) before you started your spell?

Well, now you can’t. The MCC consider it altering the condition of the ball illegally.

As most bowlers I play with do this, it’s going to take some smart umpires to put an end to it, especially at lower levels where the umpire is usually a player.

Law 42.3

Slow bowlers front foot must stay on the same side

In the past, it was legal for a bowler to bowl over the wicket but land his front foot on the other side of the stumps. This essentially means he (or she) is bowling around the wicket.

I’ve never seen it, but it sounds unfair to me. And it did to the MCC too, so they changed the Law to ban it.

Now you must land your whole foot on the same side of the wicket as you are bowling from.

Law 24.5

A broken bat can get you out

If your bat breaks and the broken bit dislodges a bail you are now out (before it wasn’t out).

While this seems pretty unlucky, it brings the Law into line with other weird forms of getting out like your cap hitting the stumps or the slightly more common treading on the wicket.

Law 28.1

Those are the headlines.

There are a few other changes that are less relevant to club players. I’ve never seen any of the Laws applied in their old or new form in 20 years of playing: Umpires won’t offer the light any more, batsmen lose a warning for running on a wicket, You can’t be run out of your feet are in the air after grounding your foot behind the popping crease and you can only start fielding the ball inside the boundary.

So very little drama this time around, it’s all minor stuff, but knowing it may give you the tiny advantage you need.

For more on how to practically apply the Laws of cricket click here. 

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Specialist fielding: Boundary fielding

Fielding in the deep can feel like a lonely place.

There you are with acres of space to sprint around while the batsman gives it the long handle.

Then they smash one straight up in the air and you have to wait forever for it to come down into your hands.

The potential for a mess up is a high one. Yet, you can massively reduce the chances of things going wrong simply by working on your specialist skills in this area.

Why have boundary fielders?

Being on the rope is a simple task, if a physically and mentally demanding one. Your job is to stop the ball going for a boundary, keeping the number of runs the batsman scores as low as possible.

More occasionally, and dramatically, you will be required to catch the ball.

This means you need to be able to pick up balls early, run to them quickly (often having to slide to get there) and return them with an accurate throw. If that wasn’t enough you also need to be brave with strong catching hands.

You might find yourself anywhere between deep point and deep square leg. The off side has fewer catches (it’s easier to sky a ball to leg).

Where to stand: On the rope?

Traditional coaching has stuck to a simple idea: Boundary fielders stand on the boundary line.

To creep in too far is a schoolboy error and makes you look silly when it goes over your head but bounces inside the rope to go for four.

But it’s not always as simple as that.

Mostly you will want to follow the orthodox line, but there are times when you have to judge where to stand with a bit more nous. Here are some times you may want to drift away from that rope:

  • A batsman you know has a big ego and thinks he can clear you so you wander in to tempt him to go over the top.
  • A very long boundary (especially on the off side) that batsmen will struggle to hit boundaries.
  • In the middle overs of a limited over match when the batsmen are not hitting out but working the ball around and looking to turn singles into twos.

How to field on the boundary

Wherever you stand, fielding in the deep requires you to stay focused. It’s rare for the captain to put you out unless the ball is going to the boundary.

As the bowler is delivering the ball, watch the batsman for clues to the shot that is coming your way. If it’s clear they are aiming for the area you are covering, laser your focus in on the ball.

You have to make quite a few quick decisions when you realise the ball is coming your way.

If it’s along the ground, your job is to get to the ball as quickly as possible and, if needed, stop the boundary. What happens next depends on what the batsmen are doing.

  • If they are risking an extra run, attack the ball and return it quickly. This is a riskier approach because more can go wrong, especially in crucial moments (but that’s OK because as a specialist you will have practiced).
  • If they are strolling and not looking to score, take more time returning the ball so your throw is accurate.

If the ball is coming in the air you have to quickly judge if it is going to reach you or not.

If it is, get in position to catch it, steady yourself and catch the ball with strong hands.

If it’s going to bounce, watch how the ball is spinning, adjust and look to take it after the first bounce if you can. Again the return needs to be accurate.

Ways to practice

Boundary fielding is, more than any other, the execution of fielding skills in an ever changing game environment.

So while it’s important to drill to get your technique right, you also need to practice with a bit of chaos and game situation feeling. Here are some drills that should be done as often as possible (every day if you can):

Keeping score in these drills makes sure there is pressure on you to perform too.

Also use middle practice as this simulates batsmen trying to steal extra runs from you.

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Tactics you should be using: tip and run

It’s a club game on a typical summer afternoon. Tell me if what I saw is a familiar story.

The opening batsman are being tied down by some accurate medium pace bowling. After 10 overs the score is 18-0.

Seeing that he needs to get on with it, one opener plays a defensive nudge towards cover and makes a dash for a quick single. His partner is looking for it too and they make it home. In the next few overs they do more of the same, making the scoreboard look a little fuller before the first wicket falls.

You don’t have to be a great cricketer to be a great role model

This is a guest article by Daniel Maddocks of T20Kids.com: Promoting Cricket for Kids. Daniel is an ECB Coach with experience in coaching young cricketers in the North West of England.

When it comes to role models we often think about the likes of Glenn McGrath or Sachin Tendulkar; the great cricketers who had the ability to inspire millions.


About PitchVision Academy

Welcome to this week's guide to playing and coaching better cricket.

I'm David Hinchliffe and I'm Director of the PitchVision Academy team. With this newsletter you are benefitting directly from over 25 Academy coaches. Our skills include international runs and wickets, first-class coaching, cutting-edge research and real-life playing experience.


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Issue: 120
Date: 2010-10-15