Focus on Fielding

Fielding: we all spend more time doing it than we do batting or bowling, but it gets very little focus during nets in recreational cricket, and is often overlooked by clubs in their Development Cricket plans. I have been thinking a lot about this both in terms of my own need to get better, and as part of my coaching plans for the Birmingham Unicorns (@bhamunicorns) next season.

I think there are three aspect to fielding that should be worked on:

  1. How we as individuals perform: our fitness, skills, and best fielding positions, and
  2. How we field as a team; backing up, relay throwing, encouraging teammates, reading the game, feedback to the captain and bowler,and
  3. The importance of the Wicket Keeper: the conductor, understanding all the moving parts and keeping them moving in a coherent and effective manner.

This year then there will be a lot more emphasis on fielding both in my own preparation and training, and in my coaching.

Coaching Wise there is less that can be done about an individual’s desire to train, to get fitter and better but hopefully a combination of increasing the understanding of the value of fielding, of working with them on enhancing their skills and matching to ‘best fit’ fielding positions will help motivate them. After all if we walk off the field having patrolled the boundary and kept four potential fours (16 runs) down to 2 singles and a 2 twos (6 runs) we will have saved 10 runs. Do that in 20 games a season and we have contributed 200 runs to the team: more than many will contribute with the bat either through ability or opportunity. With the Unicorns we have a number of new coaches getting involved so they will be given the opportunity to develop their skills in a number of ways: sessions based around fielding skills (running, throwing, catching) and fitness requirements (strength, flexibility, movement)

There is a lot more that can (should) be done on the team element of fielding. In addition to every session starting with some warm up activities based around fielding, I am going to put as much emphasis on team fielding sessions as any other discipline, so some nets will basically be fielding only.

Will combine some batting and bowling skills, but for them it will be more about adhering to the discipline required for the drill. The approach will be to have a fielding side, bowler and two batters. A game scenario will be explained and then the fielding captain will set the field and pick their bowlers. The batters will have any restraints explained to them, but in general this is about the fielding and bowling so they should bat as normal, unless a specific drill needs to be worked on. Fielding positions will be rotated so players get to practice the positions they want to concentrate on, and the drills will be changed throughout the session to ensure that all are involved. Between ‘innings’ we will have group discussions as to the previous drill, what we have learnt and what we need to work on.

By way of an example: the scenario could well be about stopping the single in which case we would be looking for a ‘death bowler’ with the skills to hit the target area, with two batters who are good runners and will be practising rotating the strike. Another scenario may be a T10, where the batters have to ‘ t off’ from ball one so the fielders on boundary will be key.

Additional Reading

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