Fielding Positions II: In Detail

Hopefully you’ve read the previous article about basic fielding positions and, seeing as how you’ve read this far, presumably you want to know more. Excellent.

I mentioned a couple of general descriptors at the top of the last article, and hopefully you should know where ‘off’ and ‘leg’ are now! You’ve also met a few named positions such as midwicket and point. With just a few more terms we can describe almost every position on the cricket pitch:

  • Deep/Short/Silly: Defines how close the fielder is to the batsman. ‘Deep’ means on the boundary, ‘short’ means closer than usual to the batsman, ‘silly’ means in his eyeline and dangerously close.
  • Forward/Backward: Used mainly in squarish fielding positions, where forward means just in front of the batsman’s popping crease, and backward just behind it.
  • Fine/Square and Straight/Wide: When describing fielders behind the wicket, fine means more behind the wicketkeeper and square closer to point/square leg. In front of the wicket, straight and wide are exactly as you’d expect.

Hopefully now you can see that deep backward point would be a point fielder on the boundary slightly behind the popping crease, while a forward short leg would be a close catcher positioned a couple of steps further forward than usual.

Being able to name all the fielding positions is one thing. Why we have them there is another.

In general, bowlers look to bowl a line on or about off stump, to which the batsman’s safest response is a drive into the off side. So if the bowler is very accurate, in theory we can stem the flow of runs and create pressure by putting most of our fielders on the off side. In reality bowlers are not always accurate, some less than others, and batsmen will always find ways to score runs, so we need to cover more ground dependent on how the bowler is bowling, how successful the batsman is, how trustworthy the pitch is, and the state of the game. If we’ve got two new batsmen at the crease, two bowlers who are bowling well, a dodgy pitch and a good score to defend, our field will be very different to that we’d have at 200-2 on a hot sunny day with knackered bowlers and 15 overs to go.

There are a few examples that I hope you can relate to to explain a bit about field settings. I hope none of our regular bowlers mind being singled out here: