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Cricket fielding positions: Explanation of all the confusing terms ahead of The Ashes

Bynewsmagzines

Jun 16, 2023
Cricket fielding positions: Explanation of all the confusing terms ahead of The Ashes

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From wicket-keeper to first slip and long off, there are a lot of fielding positions in cricket, and with The Ashes upon us, you better get used to them.

Cricket is unique in that at any one time, there are 11 members of the fielding team active, while there are only two batters.

Fielding positions are crucial in any form of cricket

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Fielding positions are crucial in any form of cricketCredit: Getty
There are a lot of different fielding positions

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There are a lot of different fielding positionsCredit: Australian Cricket Tours

In each format of the game, different rules determine where fielders can stand, but in Test cricket, it’s a free-for-all.

Despite this, many key positions will be repeatedly said as England take on Australia for the right to lift the iconic urn.

Fielding positions in cricket

Close infield

These positions are all within 10-15 yards of the batter and their main priority is taking catches.

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Wicket-keeper

One of the most basic spots is that of the wicket keeper.

They are always positioned directly behind the batter and stand close to the stumps when a spinner or slow seamer is bowling and further back when the pace is cranked up.

The wicket-keeper doesn’t bowl and their objective is to take catches, help with LBW appeals and create run-outs.

They also wear special gloves to make taking catches easier.

Slips

Depending on what hand the batter uses, these fielders stand to the left or right of the wicket-keeper.

The slips start at one and can go up to as many as six.

They stand in a staggered diagonal line to ensure they don’t dive in each other’s way, and they will also change their position based on the bowler’s speed.

They are there to stop runs, but the main objective is to take edge catches.

The slips are always positioned close together, with gully a bit squarer to the batter

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The slips are always positioned close together, with gully a bit squarer to the batter

Gully / leg gully

Gully looks to be a fourth slip, but the fielder is actually positioned much deeper and squarer than the slip cordon.

The gully’s job is to stop batter’s cutting away shots to the boundary off the back foot and take catches that the slips would otherwise miss.

The leg gully’s role is exactly the same but on the opposite side.

Leg slip

As opposed to the other slip catchers, this fielder stands to the opposite side of the wicket-keeper.

They are there to take any nick or pull shot that the batter inadvertently plays down past their leg side and not to the off side.

This can be a useful position and often catches some batters out.

However, it’s often limited because you can only have two fielders behind square [horizontal from the batter’s crease] on the leg side.

If the slips aren't in the right place, the ball can fall short

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If the slips aren’t in the right place, the ball can fall short

Short leg / silly point

This position isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it involves standing incredibly close to the batter on either the right or the left.

The fielder wears a helmet and is there to try and catch any slight nicks that loop into the air when the spinner is bowling.

They can also stop runs, but that often comes from when the batter smashes the ball into them.

The Inner Circle

These fielders are usually positioned within 30 yards of the stumps and are in place to stop singles, create run-out opportunities and take catches – although that isn’t their main role.

Point / square leg

This fielder stands to the off side of the batter, horizontal from their position.

The distance varies, but given most batters try to score on the off side, their main role is to stop what would be easy runs.

Backward point is the same, but the fielder moves a couple of yards behind square.

Square leg and backward square leg stand in the same spot as point and backward point, but on the opposite side.

These special wicket keeper gloves make catching behind the stumps easier

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These special wicket keeper gloves make catching behind the stumps easierCredit: Getty

Mid off / mid on

This is one of the most common fielding positions, and the person in place stands to the off side of the batter at about a 30-degree angle.

The batter can see them at all times and they are there to stop the drive.

Captains can often position themselves here so they can talk to the bowler before every ball.

Mid on is exactly the same but on the leg side.

Cover

This fielder is positioned to the off side but stands at a 45-degree angle to the batter and often a little bit closer than mid off or mid on.

Most batters will try to score boundaries through this part of the ground, so the cover fielder must be athletic to stop several powerful shots.

Extra cover is positioned at a lesser angle between mid off and cover.

When a batter is said to 'drive through the covers' it means they have got the ball past the off side fielders

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When a batter is said to ‘drive through the covers’ it means they have got the ball past the off side fielders

Mid wicket

This fielder stands to the leg side between square leg and mid on.

They are in place to stop the pull shot and prevent runs down that side.

Outfield positions

These fielders are lot more spaced out and have a lot of ground to cover.

They are in place to stop boundaries and take difficult catches.

Fine leg / third man

Fine leg usually stands at 45-degree angle behind the batter.

They are positioned on the boundary but can come in if needed and are there to stop any fine tickles down the leg side ending up in a four rather than a single.

Third man is placed at the same angle on the opposite side, and they can prevent a lot of runs as batters like to run the ball into that region.

Deep point / deep square leg

This fielder stands in the same place as point but outside of the inner circle.

But they don’t just stand there and have to effectively cover that whole side once the ball gets past the close fielders.

Deep backward point is the same as deep point but further behind the batter.

Deep square leg and deep backward square leg are also the same but on the opposite side.

Boundary catches are often the most impressive

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Boundary catches are often the most impressive

Deep cover

Should the ball get past cover and extra cover, two fielders can be positioned in the same place but further back.

This can create catching opportunities from miscued shots and stop crucial runs.

Long off / long on

These are like mid off and mid on but further back.

However, a captain is rarely likely to put the inner circle and outer versions in place at the same time.

Cow corner / deep mid wicket

Deep mid wicket stands in the same spot as mid wicket but closer to the boundary.

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Cow corner is positioned between deep mid wicket and long on.

They won’t be used at the same time as both are similar positions.

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