With 17 years of first-class experience and still one of the best fielders on the county circuit, Glamorgan’s Dean Cosker talks us through some of his favourite fielding tips.
For me, being a good fielder boils down to anticipation. When you’re watching what shot the batsman’s about to play, try and determine where you are going to go as a fielder. It doesn’t sound much, but if you’re paying attention and reading the game then you can get a head-start for those first couple of yards which could result in a great catch, run out or even just saving valuable runs. The beauty of fielding training is that there is no set time or limit on fielding drills. You can incorporate them around your net or even your spare time. If you’re willing to put the time in then you will make yourself better.
TRUST YOUR ARM
I’ve been playing for a number of years now so you just end up going with something that doesn’t hurt you as much! If I throw a certain way and it’s technically spot on, but it hurts, then I’m not going to do it. When I field in the ring, now, I’ve almost got a side-arm, slingy action because I know I don’t have enough time to fully load up and get in a technically correct position to throw down the stumps, because it’s not natural to me and takes that extra split second. I’ve found my own technique which works well and that’s the most important thing. If you’ve got a good arm that’s not technically correct but doesn’t hurt, you should stick to it.
ASSUME YOUR POSITIONS
As with all three cricket disciplines, you get the best from them in practice when you replicate a match situation – in the case of fielding, this includes many things. For starters, field in your usual positions, and if you don’t field in the slips, there’s no reason for you to spend time on the slip-cradle. At Glamorgan, we split between outfielders and infielders, (infielders includes me), as it allows everyone to train intensely in the positions they will find themselves in an upcoming match.
The first drill we do is based on our positioning on the field in relation to the batsman and should be done intensely for about 20 minutes. It’s important that the three fielders work as a team to keep the balls out of that arc and take catches. As for the batsman, the fielders should let him know what sort of practice they want – whether they want him to try and beat the field or if they want a healthy dose of catches and groundwork.
– Set up a pitch on the outfield, with two stumps roughly 20 yards apart, and stand at gully, backward-point and cover-point.
– Have a coach or another player stand as a batsman, with another under-arming a ball to him. He will then aim to hit the ball in our direction, either in the air or on the ground.
– Once the ball is caught or fielded from the ground, the batsmen or the ball-feeder will shout either “keeper’s” or “bowler’s” end. The fielder with the ball will then aim a throw at the set of stumps called.
I’m a great advocate of taking lots of catches with incrediballs so that you don’t wear out your hands. Tennis balls could also work, but the key here is to get your technique spot on. If you play cricket regularly enough, your hands are used to the impact of a cricket ball. You lose nothing by training with lighter balls, but have the added advantage of taking a greater number of catches. On average, I aim to take a minimum of 50 catches during an entire training session.
Using a cricket catching board ramp such as a Katchet to get a partner to feed a bowling machine or throw your catches off the board, which will deflect the ball at you at different angles. Aim to take between 15 or 20 without dropping one – moving in closer to make things harder with every five.
ONE FOR THE SPINNERS…
As I bowl left-arm spin a few caught and bowled chances will come my way during the season, so I practice those too. With those catches, you need to react quickly as the ball often comes to you just after you’ve finished with your action and begun your follow-through. This drill focuses on getting your hands and eyes in the right place immediately after you’ve bowled the ball. It’s very difficult to get into the right position to catch a ball at this point so it’s important you drill this well.
Get a set of stumps and a coach or friend, just five or six yards away. Go through your bowling action off one pace (without a ball) and, just as you finish your action, get your coach to hit a cricket ball back to you at a catchable height. Aim to do about 20 of these catches.