Most Important Cricket Fielding Positions: Has it ever happened to you, you’re sitting with your friends, discussing a match analysis, like how one cricketer dived and caught a catch in the long slip or how their favorite team exploited the 2nd power play too much. While you’re wondering which expression, you should give this time because each fact is a bouncer for you. Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to pull out an Encyclopedia from my leather bag and tell you how much money you will save on it if you buy from me (actually, you will), but I am going to teach you some cricket fielding positions.
A sport becomes more enjoyable when you know what you’re looking at except for the love and thrill part. When you know the name of the punch that knocked out the opponent or the method through which the cricketer got out, the feeling is just as good enough as playing the game. Because let’s be honest, only then you’ll be able to understand what commentators do during the entire game. Well, it’s about time for the session of cricket fielding positions; everyone, open up your brains and start reading.
So, you know how you don’t know the names of directions in Hindi. Well, add one more to the list because, in cricket, the left side of the batsman from the perspective that he’s facing the bowler is called the leg side. And the opposite of that is called off-side in cricket fielding positions. These side denotations get reversed if the batsman is a left-handed batsman.
So now, there are different broad categories of how a shot is being played in cricket. These broad categories are then further divided into sub-categories that define the shot, where it is being played in the approximate radius of 2 to 3 meter-square.
The broad categories in which we can divide the cricket fielding positions are:
The favorite cricket fielding position set by the spinners is in the slips. Slips are the positions set behind the batsman at certain angles. The slips start outwards from the wicket-keeper and are a total of 9 positions which are collectively called ‘slip cordon’. Slip positions are hard to maintain, being very near to the batsman. One miss can cost the complete plan of fielding placement.
The slip position on the leg side and behind the wicket is generally called leg slip. Leg slip is not a normally used catching position for a fielder as the only shots that get there are the rare Leg Glances, whether it is a forward foot or backward foot. The maximum number of fielders that could be placed on the leg side behind the square is 2 in cricket fielding positions, so it’s highly unlikely to see a fielder there unless you want to defend a paddle sweep shot.
Literally meaning street, this position is on the extended length of slip fielders. A little more to the viewing angle of the batsman, the gully position fills the missing gap. The skills needed by a fielder to place at gully are agility, rationally bright, and crafty. Another position derived from gully is leg gully. It resembles as same as leg slip but in a gully position. Placed on the exact opposite side of the gully, we can use it as a fishnet with the help of short-pitched bowling.
The position where spin ballers work their dark magic and pace ballers can work their non-elf magic is the short leg. Spinners take this opportunity to make sure the batsman misses the edge or mistimes the ball towards the fielder. If you want to put a batsman to the test against the bouncer, this is a great fielding stance to use!
It is the position dangerously close to the batsman and is on the off-side of the field. The reason that they call this position dangerous is that it is so close to the batsman, the bowler, and the pitch that it can break the path of the two, either the batsman or the bowler. On the 45-degree angle from the batsman batting point, the silly point fielder stands about a meter away from the wickets. An incredibly important cricket fielding position.
On the leg side, silly mid-on is another silly name for a position that is too silly to slip and just next to the short leg. This position comes in with the full package of silly point, short leg, and silly mid-off in case of the batsman plays the ball wrong.
Silly mid-off is the just opposite of silly mid-on cricket fielding position. A bold and treacherous position so the bowler can put a limit to the batsman’s shots and movements. All of these positions require protection from the straight-faced and fast-paced shots that could either end up on your face and end your match or end up on your palms and end his wicket.
Cricket Fielding Positions: Here comes the ‘inner’ stuff!
So, it’s rewind time! If we recap, we have now seen cricket fielding positions that are inside the ‘Close Catching Infield’ or in Layman’s terms, the 30-yard circle (technically oval). We’ll now mention the specific positions that are on/near the line.
As fine as it sounds, the fine leg is one of the most difficult field areas to place a shot willingly. It is situated behind the square on the leg side of the field. The fielder must be inside the line but not too much inside to cover the short or backward short leg. Whew, these cricket fielding positions can be a Loki sometimes. You like sweep shots, right? Yeah, they get caught here.
The almost similar position as the square leg, backward square leg is a few meters away from the former and behind the square on the leg side of the field of the batsman. This position is called out mostly for singles and it’s rare for a fielder to miss a ball while standing in this position.
On the leg side of the field, the square leg is at the square of the wicket, almost in line with the stumps. This is also the position where the 2nd umpire for the match stands and yes you can not stand just behind him. The distance between mid-wicket fielder and square fielder increases the responsibility in proportion to the distance between them increases. That’s why the fielder placed in this cricket fielding position bears a lot on his shoulders.
You must have heard the commentator saying this a thousand times, that the shot went directly to the mid-wicket. Mid-wicket is the visual comfort area for the batsman and the runs too. In front of the square of the leg side of the batsman, the mid-wicket fielder should be just in the right position to be able to stop the singles or at least let it be only a single. Every run counts.
Mid-on in the cricket field is on the leg side, just a few meters away from the straighter point. The primary role of a mid-on fielder is to stop the drives that go to the leg side mostly and also the straight long shots.
Mid-off is the almost same cricket fielding position as mid-on. Opposite to the leg, the mid-off fielder is placed a few meters away from the straight wicket to the offside. They are also responsible for stopping the singles for the long straight shots.
Fielding at this position will mean you’ll spend plenty of stamina chasing after the ball. Located in the offside at around 27-degrees to the batsman (facing bowler) between extra cover and cover point. It’s pretty important for the captain to place a fielder here, as plenty of shots are directed here.
Directly in the offside of the field, the point and the backward point is square off the wicket. In an operation by a fast pace bowler, there is a suitable distance between the fielder and the batsman. The point fielder has a lot of distance to cover in both his right and his left. Square drive, square cut, and reverse sweep are the most common shots played in point and backward point. These shots are rarely stopped and they either go for a single or a boundary. The role and skill set needed to fill these positions are just as extravagant as any other physical athletic quality.
Last but not the least; there’s already too much ground to cover in a field and not everybody can run everywhere. That’s why some cricket fielding positions are set near the boundary line so they can stop, catch, run, or dive to their victory. Let’s find out what are they.
Long on shots are one of the most beautiful cricket shots and there are no second thoughts for that. But that’s not the issue here. Long on is the last boundary-based fielding position on the leg side of batsman. Long on fielders are the first to visualize a ball coming to them, so it’s not that hard to get the ball only if it’s on the ground, which is not the common case here.
On the off side of the field, the long off position is just wide of straight. It’s also on the edge of the border, like the majority of these outfield spots! From Straight Drives to Off Drives, this cricket fielding position faces all kinds of shots.
As the name suggests, the deep extra cover is a little extra deep into the cover position i.e. a little bit further in front of the square than the neighboring position. This position is effective in stopping cover drives while being defensive and providing support to former cover positions.
On the other horizon of the deep cover point, the deep backward point is a location on the boundary that is just slightly behind the square. The point covers almost 20 meters on the boundary line. It’s up to the captain between 2 out of 3 point positions following the baller and batsman’s batting style.
The other borderline defensive cricket fielding position on the point. Deep cover point is on the comfort zone shot area for a batsman, yet it has to pass through some more defense so the ball rarely gets there as offensive.
Behind square on the off side of the field, lies another boundary position known as the ‘Third Man’. For the origin of the name ‘third man’, it’s been told that when the overarm bowling was introduced, a need for an extra fielder behind the square was needed in case the ball slips past the slips and the gully, hence a 3rd fielder was needed.
On the leg side, the deep fine leg fielder should be positioned on the boundary behind square. Imagine yourself at a 45-degree angle to the batter and then walk a few meters farther than that. If the bowler tilts the ball a little to the leg, the batsman definitely tries to pull a shot into the deep fine leg. And that’s a big reason that either in shorter formats or test matches, there’s always a fielder at this cricket fielding position.
The long leg fielder’s major job is to monitor the leg side of the boundary behind the square and prevent any boundaries high or low. Captains generally have only one fielder behind square on the leg side that is slightly squarer than the deep fine leg. As well as, the fielder should maintain an angle of 60-degrees to the batsman for better efficiency.
Now, you might think that you know too much about cricket now. Well well well, over 50+ fielding positions are present on a cricket field where a captain has to keep changing them and choose between them under the batsman, bowler, power play, and cricket format. And once these cricket fielding positions are decided, the responsibility holds more weight than the ball and bat combines. So, next time a cricketer misfields; sit down, be humble!
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