Category Archives: Fielding

The Pessimist warns you!

The Pessimist was approached for his comments on the eve of the 1st Test against Pakistan to begin at the Kotla tomorrow. Here are his early warnings.

  • India play under a new captain and it will not be easy for everyone to adjust.
  • The openers are under a lot of pressure to perform. For instance Karthik has not done well in the two early Ranji games he played. Jaffer is suspect with his slow footwork and Shoaib Akthar will test that out.
  • The middle order though strong on paper has not set the world alight in recent times.
  • The fast bowling department with a suspicious Munaf Patel is not very encouraging.
  • Harbhajan comes back after his ODI performances but can he get wickets again at the test match level?
  • This is an ageing side and the fielding will be tested thoroughly. Watch out for a few drops in slips early on, some desperate dives to prevent boundaries and some lethargic running between the wickets.
  • Finally the team will miss the enthusiasm and bubble of youth.

The Optimist when asked declined to give a comment.

— Sanjay

At last…something on fielding

Anand Vasu from Cricinfo has interviewed Robin Singh on his aproach. I found it very heartening to listen to someone from the Indian camp sounding balanced and professional. His comments, specially in relation to comparing Indian fiedling standards with those of Oz are quite insightful.


India’s chances in the Twenty20 Cup

After being stunned by the pyrotechnics in the match between West Indies and South Africa last night, I thought to myself whether India would be able to put on a similar show; a show that included power, intensity, commitment, strength, brutality, sharpness, alacrity and acumen in equal measure!

I really doubt it! I won’t be surprised by a bad showing from India in this tournament. May as well be prepared for it!

Apart from the fact that India is inexperienced at this form of the game, the team has as many as 4 players on the comeback-trail (Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh and Joginder Sharma). Moreover, the team has, in my view, at least 2 passengers who should not get even a single game (Ajit Agarkar and Gautam Gambhir). But more than these factors, I feel that India’s specialist Twenty20 players are warming the bench back at home.

The above factors make me want to set my expectations realistically: an early exit and some much-needed R&R bfore the Australian ODI series!

The fielding is, however, set to improve with the absence of the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Romesh Powar, Munaf Patel, et al. But notwithstanding with the persence of Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, this team is going to provide several Sydney-Harbour-Bridge moments as players dive over balls that race under them to the boundary. The dry cleaner may get an easy collect as clothes may not be too soiled by sliding stops.

But it may be a fun journey — albeit a short one! So may as well enjoy it while it lasts!

I’d suggest the following team — in batting order — for the match against Scotland on Thursday 13th Sept (9.30pm IST):

Robin Uthappa
Virender Sehwag
Dinesh Karthik
Yuvraj Singh
Rohit Sharma / Gautam Gambhir
MS Dhoni
Irfan Pathan / Ajit Agarkar
Joginder Sharma / Yusuf Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Rudra Pratap Singh
S Sreesanth

This team would give the team upto 7 bowling options, with Sreesanth, R. P. Singh, Joginder Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Irfan Pathan does. Even if India lose this series badly, the re-discovery of Irfan Pathan will have made the trip a worthwhile one! India needs this former poster-boy back in its midst.

— Mohan

Ian Chappell’s incisive comments on Day 1

We get cricket coverage in India via Star Cricket, a new channel from the Star group. I like listening to Ian Chappell’s commentary as he usually makes some excellent points. Here are some interesting examples.

  • Dravid’s captaincy – Chappell felt that Dravid was unnecessarily pressurising his opening bowlers with he 7-2 field and preventing the bowlers from bowling slightly more straighter to allow the ball to swing.
  • Dravid at mid on – Dravid has been one of India’s best slip fielders and he even got his 150th catch standing at first slip. But for most of the 1st and the 2nd sessions he was standing at mid on. Chappell felt that 1st slip was the best place for a captain to stand, next to the wicket keeper. He himself stood there and always got good tips from Rod Marsh. Continuous talking to the bowler especially when he was not bowling well was not helping things. Imagine some talking to Dravid as he was getting beaten outside the off stump? Bowlers also need to concentrate after every ball!
  • Fielding coach – A fielding coach cannot teach a Test cricketer to field. A cricketer should learn about fielding between the ages of 9 – 16 and these are the things that help him in the long run.
  • Putting pressure – Strauss had got to 49 and was given an easy single by Dravid standing at a deepish mid on. A 50 is an important landmark for a struggling batsman. An opposing captain cannot afford to relax and give him the chance to get his confidence back.

– Sanjay

South Africa loses decider – The Pessimist’s report

The Optimist is having a hangover after the celebrations last night, so here is a report from the Pessimst on how South Africa lost the match and India did not win it.

  • India was lucky to win a second toss in a row and bowl first on a wicket that eased up later in the innings.
  • Kallis made the mistake of playing the rusty Steyn in this crucial match. Definitely Philander, Langevelt or the spinner Tshabalala would have been a better choice.
  • South Africa had the worst possible day in the field in a long long time. How many catches went down. How many run out chances missed. How many fumbles in the field.
  • JP Duminy was out LBW to a ball pitched outside the leg stump. Aleem Dar also had a horrible day.
  • Yuvraj Singh again alternated between scratchy batting and good shots. Any of his scratches could have got him out.
  • Dravid after 15 years of experience forgot to ground his bat and got himself run out. Shows how Indian batsmen are still not sound on their fundamentals.
  • Kallis also erred in not bringing himself on earlier when the Indians were struggling. He should have kept Ntini for the end.
  • In the final result South Africa managed to lose a match that they really should have won.

– Sanjay

The Mike Young article

In an article for CricInfo, Mike Young, a baseball coach who was hired as a fielding consultant by the Australian team writes –

I didn’t know much about cricket then, but I’ll tell you what: I was quite shocked at what I saw. No one had any idea about fielding balance. They were diving around with flawed techniques, and wasting energy that they should have been conserving.

In the same column he writes about Australia’s fielding techniques when he took over –

There was so much diving and sliding going on, with people saying, “It’s a great fielding side”, and so on, but I’m thinking, “If you have to dive so much, it either means you aren’t quick enough to reach the ball, or you’re standing in the wrong position.”

He also goes on to question why the fielders walk 10 steps forward as the bowler comes in to bowl, thus using up their energy. It is always interesting to see things from an outsider’s perspective – we often fail to see what may be quite obvious to an outsider….which goes back to what I suggested in an earlier column on why India needs a baseball fielding coach.


The fielding coach

BCCI have just announced that Robin Singh will take over as fielding coach for the Bangladesh tour. Having a fielding coach is a very good idea and having Robin Singh in the coaching team is a good idea too. However, I am somehow not convinced that having Robin Singh as the fielding coach is a good idea.

Fielding in my opinion consists of three primary things –

  • Throwing
  • Ground fielding
  • Catching

These three things have been perfected in baseball more than cricket and I think we need a coach from the baseball world. Here are my main reasons –

  • In baseball, accuracy of the throw is very important. A miscued or slow throw can easily allow the runner to advance to the next base. As a result, baseball throwing techniques have been perfected to be fast and accurate. They are also known to be less strenuous on the throwing arm.
  • Baseball makes use of a cut-off man, who usually intercepts a long throw and relay throws it to the right base. Indians usually have a poor arm and their accuracy is usually pretty bad too. They can use this method to cover more distance as well as  improve speed and accuracy. Remember the Brian Lara run out against NZ in the 2003 World cup? That is an excellent example of the relay throw method.
  • Fielding techniques are also a lot more advanced in baseball than cricket. A single run in baseball is worth quite a lot and fielding in baseball revolves around preventing them. They have perfected the way to slide stop and dive stop, as well as using their bodies as backstops. We can benefit quite a lot from learning baseball fielding techniques.
  • Catching in baseball is usually easier than cricket as every fielder uses gloves. But their training methods for catching are more evolved than ours, with emphasis on soft hands, catching on the run and getting into position for a catch.

Granted, you cannot teach old dogs new tricks and people like Ganguly or Kumble will never be able to do a dive stop like a Symonds or a Rhodes, but the emphasis is on building a young team and the youngsters will benefit enormously from a Baseball fielding coach.

I hope BCCI gives some serious thought to this after the Bangladesh tour.


Indian fielding – The weak link?

Take a look at this article on the Indian fielding written by Jamie Alter.

I think there is a fair amount to agree with regarding the standard of Indian fielding. But the solutions?

The author suggests bringing in Kaif and Raina. So in the author’s scheme of things India’s middle order will have the great fielding ‘cats’ Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik. When I read this I think of how the reamining team would actually pan out. Dhoni will play and I suppose Dravid and Sachin will not be dropped. Now we need atleast 4 bowlers. So there is really no place for Sourav and Veeru!

Is the author suggesting that India go into an ODI with this kind of a XI because its fielding will look great? What about the batting? The mantra seems to be: “Don’t play Sourav or Veeru, save the extra 40 runs on the field and lose the 150 runs that they might score”.

Am I missing something here? Or is this just a typical strategy article that is meant to scare us fanatics into thinking that this fielding side cannot win ODI’s.

Let me tell you this Mr Jamie Alter. India will score atleast 150 runs more if they do not play Kaif and Raina. This is because we have a resurgent Ganguly and a Sehwag who, in my opinion is much much more dangerous down the order in this line up. So please don’t go about suggesting specific failure strategies.