It’s quite the feat of fielding skill and power to slam the ball into the keeper’s gloves from the boundary edge. But in real life, there are precious few who have such a bullet arm.
That’s where the relay throw comes in.
But it’s not just about covering a bad arm: the relay throw is also a tactical fielding technique.
As you know, a relay throw is any throw where two fielders team up to return the ball to the stumps.
Twenty20 cricket has increased the popularity of the method so now you can see even top quality fielders popping the ball up to a team mate to send it on its way.
Yet despite this, many club and school teams neither practice nor employ relay throwing. Perhaps it is an ego thing or perhaps fielders need to be better drilled in working together.
Either way, you should take it up in your team if you want to be a better fielding unit. Here is why it’s a good idea:
- Saves boundaries. When two fielders chase after the ball the fielder who gets there first can put in a much greater effort to stop the four. He can slide and flick it back, safe in the knowledge that someone will be behind him to put the throw in.
- Gets the ball in the air. Batsmen are programmed to say no the moment the ball is in the air. It makes sense to program fielders to get it in the air fast and that can be down with a relay quicker than a bloke on his own crow-hopping and winding up for a big throw.
- Gives more time for a decision. If you are a long way out, it takes time to decide which end to throw that could leave a batsman time to get home. If you are throwing to one other person, they can have already have decided, catch and return in one movement.
- Protects weaker arms. Yes, it might hurt to think it, but if you don’t have the arm to get it in flat from the boundary then there is no shame in using someone else to get it in. Two flat throws are better than a rubbish loopy one.
- Sends a message. When every fielder is switched on enough to go in pairs from every chase the opposition soon get the message: these guys are serious about saving every run. This approach adds to the pressure of batting.
So how do you ingrain the habits of relay throwing?
Simple, use drills like this one at every training session.
Then tell all fielders to chase in pairs after everything. If you are one fielding position away from the ball, still go after it every time.
It might seem slightly ridiculous to double up every time at first, but it’s just a matter of getting a habit.
Then when you are at extra cover and the ball is hit past cover you don’t stand there thinking “oh that’s for someone else to chase”, you just go with it as well.
As you get better you can be more selective, but for at least 4 matches you must chase everything to get the habit going.
So now let me open it to you.
What is your experience with relay throwing and how good is your team at getting it right?
Leave a comment and let me know.