This article has been written by the contributions of the community (and edited by the Director of Coaching). My thanks go out to Munwar Hussain, Rutej Mehta, Tev, AB, Kerron Ryan, TonyM, nurav_cool, shivbaba, AjayBP, Coxy, Robin Collins and Paul Williams for their contributions.
In cricket we are obliged to give it our best in the field for a full innings, which is significantly more time than we spend bowling and almost always more than we spend batting. We can approach fielding from several angles.
And it starts before you even walk onto the park.
With lots of practice you build confidence which will really help you when it comes to a match situation. So purposeful practice (where you work in regions outside of your comfort zones) is directly proportional to results obtained.
But only if you also follow these other tips:
Practice and Drills
Practice makes perfect of you practice right.
Fielding drills should be at a higher intensity than the actual game, lot of scenarios should be implemented in the training, so when a situation comes up in the game, you would easily be on top of it.
Fielding drills in practice need to be set up to emphasise that fielding is not just an individual pursuit but a team activity. The techniques of catching, stopping and throwing are skills that can be practiced alone but putting together drills that include them within appropriate match situations, e.g. chasing a ball to the boundary, sliding, flicking it back to a colleague who chased it with you, relaying it back to the keeper, with others backing up, put the skills into context.
For young cricketers, the more sliding, diving and shying at stumps you can include, the more fun it becomes, which is important. It also leads to more run outs and more runs saved in matches when done well.
Buy a Crazy Catch (or two) and see how much fun you can have with. I recently did a session with an u11s group and we had great fun for 30 minutes doing various drills. They worked really hard and their catching and reactions improved.
The traditional move of ‘walking in’ with the bowler effective way to stop the batsmen from taking quick singles. But just walk 2-3 steps rather than the traditional 10. Imagine the amount of energy saved over a game.
However, when the ball is about to be hit, get into the soccer goalkeeper or ‘ready’ position. Lower your body weight, keep your head forward and your hands ready for the ball. Stay balanced on the balls of your feet (picture credit: All Out Cricket).
Your setup position when fielding in the ring helps you dive or turn much more quickly. Pietersen had problems catching when he first got in the England team because he wasn't getting into that position and was off balance. It makes a huge difference.
When the ball is hit to you get behind the ball. Normally you should use the long barrier but there are times to attack the ball as well. When fielding square of the wicket, remember that the ball is likely to spin sharply after bouncing.
Work on your pick up with your weaker hand and nothing will get past you.
When throwing look to follow through as you get a lot more power. Also, using your front arm when throwing overarm results in more accuracy and power.
With catching the most important tip is to watch the ball hard and try to get your head and hands as close as possible. A good way to practice this is slip catching with a wall using a tennis ball using only one hand, both sides , fingers pointing up and down .
Also, consider playing indoor cricket: fielding is arguably the most import part of the game, you learn to react extremely quickly - even when the ball is hit straight at you at very high speeds - and you learn to watch the ball very closely, you also learn the most efficient way to throw the ball into the keepers or bowlers hand such as back flicks and under the legs. This is a major reason why Martin Guptill is such a good fielder; he used to represent New Zealand at indoor cricket!
Think of fielding as an extension of your batting. Every run saved in the field you can mentally add to your runs made when it is your chance to bat.
It's important to want the ball to come to you. This shows that you are confident and ready for a catch or run out chance. One way of building that self-confidence is to visualise yourself taking that incredible diving catch, or better still remind yourself of excellent catches you've taken in training sessions.
Try to be doing something on every ball, whether it's chasing down the ball, supporting the man fielding, hanging back half way for a bad throw or backing up an end. This attitude keeps everyone busy, keeps the energy up, and it helps everyone concentrate.
It motivates opposition batsmen when you get caught flat footed because your concentration levels were poor and they take the quick single. Don’t let that be you!
Just like when batting it is often a good idea to switch on and switch off between balls. But remember to stay alert for when you might have to cover the stumps at the bowler's or keeper's end. Be ready to back up at all times and also keep in mind the possibility of the ball deflecting off the stumps.
To help with concentration, look into yoga and ways of controlling your breathing. Breathing patterns are often overlooked but are important to focus.
In general, having a good day in the field means you will be full of confidence when you come on to bowl or when you go out to bat. Regardless of whether you get to bowl or bat you can be guaranteed that you'll have to field for a full innings!
Strongly emphasise backing up the stumps and working together to generate run outs.
Never criticise people for shying at the stumps even if it’s a terrible throw and the guy was easily in anyway. Encourage people to take a chance and just let it fly. Try to get one decent shot at the stumps each over, and the fielders communicate as to who is backing up who.
It saves a lot of runs, it generates wickets, its great practice, and it keeps everyone involved. People want to field the ball because they want a go at hitting the stumps. It’s amazing how often a direct hit leads to a wicket.
I've been in teams before where people were shouted at for shying and giving away overthrows. All that does is stop people throwing altogether and allows the batsmen unlimited quick singles. Overthrows are the person backing up's fault, not the thrower. Using the 360 degree drill that encourages backing up will get players to understand the 'flow' of fielding.
Sometimes you have to take initiative and think ahead, deciding if the batsman is more likely to steal a quick single or hit big shot. Attack the ball at every opportunity and try to make something happen. Alongside this it is your job to appeal with the bowler and support him.
I would recommend wearing a cap and sunglasses for protection from the sun.
If you wear glasses, then having a handkerchief means you can wipe off rain droplets which can affect visibility. If you pick up a small injury especially to your hand then try to get some ice on it as soon as you can - this could well hamper you for many weeks as it is exigent to rest it if you continue to play.
Enhance your fielding by working on your fitness. It's amazing how much stronger your throw can become with a suitable workout.
Also practising sprints is a good idea.
Warming up and down combined with stretching means you are less likely to get injured. Lots of club cricketers tend to neglect the lower body and core and focus only on the upper body - try not to do this.
Cross training also works well; sport like tennis, table tennis, badminton and incorporate hand eye coordination, agility training and stamina. These skills are vital to taking brilliant catches, and keeps you agile in the field. They also improve your batting to an extent.
It’s vital to stay hydrated. Start getting lots of water and green tea in a few days before a match. Continue to hydrate through the match and after the game has finished.