Runs and ruins

A mercifully slow day [mercifully, since I have a ton of running around to do, hence less time for blog], so will leave you for now with a clip from the cricket press.

Suresh Menon, writing in Mumbai Mirror, is not particularly impressed with the Indian fielding, which makes the writer the latest entrant to a rapidly growing club.

If the Vadodara performance is any indication, then Indian fielders have a problem with anticipation (even those near the boundary sometimes look surprised when the ball is played to them), with movement, with stopping the ball, with pick up and with throw. This is a series of shortcomings that makes a mockery of the art of fielding at the international level.

Praveen Kumar impressed with his batting, but India might have won the match well before the final over had he not given away easy runs by diving over the ball or reaching it late when Australia were batting.

Why do young, fit athletes struggle to bend so much? Or appear off balance when throwing? Is it time the Indian team laid down some qualifying rules – speed of foot, ability to hit the stumps and so on – before a player is considered for selection? Fielding is crucial in all forms of the game, especially the shorter versions, and India’s approach is embarrassing.

The reluctance to run shows itself while batting too. Well as Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar batted towards the end, they certainly sacrificed more than four runs while admiring their shots or assuming that the ball would go to the boundary or running only a single when with better planning they could have run two.

Good points. Our selectors and the team management have traditionally paid lip service to fielding standards [“VVS Laxman is a good batsman, but too slow in the field”] without ever applying that thinking across the board – perhaps it is time they put a premium on this aspect of cricket [incidentally, it is no coincidence that the better fielders also happen to be good runners between wickets].

Suresh mentions Praveen’s batting heroics and contrasts that with his ineptitude in the field. While watching Harbhajan take strike to the 50th over of the chase, I wondered if he was remembering with regret the last ball of the 49th over of the Australian innings. Mitchell Johnson heaved an off stump ball to backward square leg. Bajji, who was positioned there, reacted late – and even so, had the angle narrowed down enough that a simple dive would have cut the ball off. Instead, he escorted the ball; it went for four – and we ended up losing by four runs.

The Indian team has this “pack the batting” mindset, and operates on the philosophy that anything the opposition puts up, its own batsmen will hunt down. It is flawed thinking; regrettably, after a brief period when the side seemed to be aware of the importance of good fielding and running between wickets, we seem to be regressing to an earlier, more lackadaisical age.

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7 thoughts on “Runs and ruins

  1. And tehre were atleast two shots which Bhajji kept admiring that he forgot to run – assuming they’ll go for boundaries. 3 additional runs could have come from those – with a stretch, 4. This is even worse than fielding errors – for that is a skill to be perfected – but this is just plain common sense, and our great hero Bhajji, whose 49 will go a long way in keeping him above Ojha and Mishra in Dhoni’s plans, has done enough to give his raging sikh reputation a fillip while not caring about how that can translate into wins for his team

  2. “after a brief period when the side seemed to be aware of the importance…” – Yes this is intriguing – what happened? – can’t the coach see this is happening? or is it a case of mediocre stds set by certain players (Nehra, PK etc) flows over to other decent fielders? – Menon is bang on – the entry into the team needs be first based on fielding skills. That is the only way players will put more effort into fielding.

  3. Yes, I remember times when we would say that we will make up with our batting what we lack in our fielding. But, it never happens that way… I believe (maybe, I am wrong) that there is a certain momentum that is generated with good fielding – this helps the bowlers, this helps the batsmen.. it is like some kind of energy! Maybe, too much intangible talk, but I have a feeling it exists!

    • Yes it does. And it does have an impact on your performance. A bowler runs in and bowls a good ball. If he is a good bowler, it is part of a sequence — for instance, I want to bowl the outswinger on length to open you up, to get that gap between bat and pad opening up. It is prep for the one I want to bowl next — one that hits a similar line, just outside of off, but jags back in — to either go through that gap or take you on the pad. If however the batsman gets a thick edge on that first ball and it rolls out to point and the fielder ambles in and lets the batsmen sneak a single, frustration creeps in. And when this kind of thing happens repeatedly, frustration mounts, and inside of me I begin to think there is no point planning dismissals, the only thing I can do is contain the damage. Meanwhile, my frustration and that of my fellow bowlers will be sensed by the fielders [sensed, hell, often I’ll simply yell at them]. That puts them on the defensive, makes them edgy, and it all goes downhill from there.

      • yes, makes sense! Reminds me of situations where Anil Kumble would be visibly upset at a fielder for giving away the single even in Test matches, because he must have been planning the dismissal of the batsmen and did not get time to work on him!

  4. some of guys seem to put more effort while fielding in IPL teams compared to in the Indian colors…one more thing Indian bowlers have always been bad fielders ..I guess it has do with the mindset start from the domestic levels that bowlers need not be good fielders..there is lack of commitment

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