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The Old Cricketer's Guide To Fielding Like An Athlete

Monty Panesar fields the ball
The Old Cricketer's Guide To Fielding Like An Athlete
©REUTERS / Action Images

Fielding isn't a young man's game.

One of the excuses I often hear about poor fielding standards is that you need to be young and energetic to do it well.

This is nonsense.

Monty Panesar was never a great fielder as a young man. If anything he has improved slightly with age. Jonty Rhodes is long retired as a cricketer but I'm certain he can still out run, throw and catch most club players.

That's because fielding skills are barely related to age, they are related to skill and athleticism. Both factors are improvable, even if you can never see the sunny side of 30 again. So stop using age as an excuse and try these things to improve your fielding:

  1. Field first. When you get to nets, don't pad up. Instead do some fielding work. A third of the practice time is a good rule of thumb (although you can save some for later).
  2. Feel special. Decide on your strengths and then look to specialise in a certain position. It's not a default position to go to first slip when you reach 35 though. You can be a specialist mid on too.
  3. Get strong. Hitting the gym and building a base of strength helps you to run faster and get to more balls more often.
  4. Concentrate right. Think of fielding like batting and have a very intense focus from delivery until the ball goes dead, then relax. That way you never get caught napping and your anticipation saves your declining skill.
  5. Lean on others. Unlike batting and bowling, you can field as a team. Simply by good backing up and multiple fielders chasing down balls you can cover each other's shortcomings.
  6. Learn to dive. Weaker fielders don't have the confidence to dive. If you work on it regularly you can develop the skills. And it looks awesome.

Yes, some of this is smoke and mirrors. Most of it is hard work and passion for a job that most people dislike.

However, if you set the standard to be the best fielder in your club this year you might very well achieve it.

All it takes is practice, and you can still drag yourself to nets to do that.

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