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Old 19th December 2007, 11:58   #1
Michelle Fivefer
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England's fielding woes

This topic is cropping up a lot lately on match threads so I thought it was worth a thread of its own.

This match is littered with dropped catches and sloppy fielding. What has gone wrong? We've never been the best fielding side in the world but we have usually been able to field at least competently. Actually there are so many problem areas it's hard to know where to start. The outfielding, the in-fielding, the pointless throws to keeper and unnecessary overthrows.

The root of the problem seems to be the new slip cordon. We have lost some excellent slip fielders in Trescothick, Strauss and Flintoff. Vaughan and Moores evidently thought the answer was to replace them with England's best fielders, Collingwood and Bell, but so far it's not working. Both of them have dropped straightforward slip catches in this series. Someone has pointed out that Collingwood didn't have his hands cupped together like Flintoff does - but Flintoff does have huge bucket hands - so maybe it's just a technical thing. I'm sure they are capable of adapting to fielding in these positions, especially when the new fielding coach rolls up, but meanwhile things are going wrong elsewhere.

Alastair Cook dropped a catch under the helmet today and frankly has never looked comfortable as a close fielder. He is too tall and his reactions are a bit slow. Ian Bell is our best close fielder, has quick reactions and is agile in the field. When not at short leg or silly point he is effective in the covers. Standing at slip is just not the best place for him, even if he could sort out where to stand in relation to Matt Prior - and the wicket-keeping is yet another problem in this match; best leave that to the appropriate thread. Collingwood likewise is much more effective at backward point where he can take brilliant catches or run outs.

Cook briefly looked as if he was improving as a fielder, and he did effect a run out, but I'm not convinced, he looks a bit ordinary to me, and sometimes a bit vacant. Bopara is pretty good, but a bit of an exaggeration by CMJ to say he is England's best. Poor old Colly would be mortified. Pietersen is quick and athletic and can take catches, but he needs more responsibility. Why isn't he in the slips?

I'm also a bit unhappy about attitudes to Monty's fielding. He took a straightforward catch yesterday very competently, holding on to the ball rather than casually throwing it into the air - much better in my opinion than risking the view that you haven't got control of the catch. But the way we react is to say, look, Monty held on to a catch. I think we're past that with Panesar by now. He has taken a number of catches and I only recall one important drop. The attitude of the commentators and the public is one of patronising amusement, which I think is misplaced. He's not the world's best fielder but neither is he the worst in the side, he at least does his best with every fielding manoeuvre and doesn't go to sleep in the field.

The England fielders' habit of throwing the ball at the stumps or to the wicket-keeper after every delivery has now lost whatever point it had. What's the point of trying to be aggressive when the batsmen are not remotely intimidated, given our bowlers' and fielders' inability to dismiss them? All that's happening is that time is wasted (we're trying to win this match, aren't we?) and extra runs are given away pointlessly.

This is a bit of a ramble through some of the problems that have been thrown up in this series. I hope Vaughan and Moores have some ideas about addressing them.
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Old 19th December 2007, 12:01   #2
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Everyone needs to go on the intense fielding course they sent Monty on. We need to train up (assuming that our side is going to remain consistant) people for the slips and have our best fielders in their best positions. Also Matt Prior needs to work out how to keep to Sidebottom.
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Old 19th December 2007, 12:07   #3
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Too few real athletes in the team - maybe 4? - no slips, a batting keeper, three at least very slow in the field. Etc..The new fielding coach, who starts in April, has his work cut out.

I dont think we are anywhere past it with Monty either.
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Old 19th December 2007, 12:19   #4
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Good post, Michelle.

As I said on the match thread, I do wonder if it is anything to do with using fielders out of place, having now lost our first choice slip cordon.
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Old 19th December 2007, 15:57   #5
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As I said on the match thread, I do wonder if it is anything to do with using fielders out of place, having now lost our first choice slip cordon.
My thoughts exactly (as I also mentioned on the match thread when Colly dropped his catch yesterday). As Zebras has also said - best fielders in their best positions. And that habit we've got into of constantly throwing the ball to the keeper needlessly must be stopped - nothing wrong with having a bit of 'presence' in the field but this is just mindless at times.

Hope the new fielding coach does the trick. If not, we should make Jonty Rhodes an offer he cannot refuse!
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Last edited by GloriousGloucesters : 19th December 2007 at 16:03. Reason: Incorporated Zebras' point.
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Old 19th December 2007, 16:04   #6
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My thoughts exactly (as I also mentioned on the match thread when Colly dropped his catch yesterday). And that habit we've got into of constantly throwing the ball to the keeper needlessly must be stopped - nothing wrong with having a bit of 'presence' in the field but this is just mindless at times.

Hope the new fielding coach does the trick. If not, we should make Jonty Rhodes an offer he cannot refuse!

Im sure he will improve us - but with this personnel I dont see how we can ever become very good in the field.
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Old 19th December 2007, 16:26   #7
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I'm also a bit unhappy about attitudes to Monty's fielding. He took a straightforward catch yesterday very competently, holding on to the ball rather than casually throwing it into the air - much better in my opinion than risking the view that you haven't got control of the catch. But the way we react is to say, look, Monty held on to a catch. I think we're past that with Panesar by now. He has taken a number of catches and I only recall one important drop. The attitude of the commentators and the public is one of patronising amusement, which I think is misplaced. He's not the world's best fielder but neither is he the worst in the side, he at least does his best with every fielding manoeuvre and doesn't go to sleep in the field.
Excellent post in general. I've highlighted the one bit I disagree with. Panesar has improved a bit in the field and is less of an embarassment but he's still the worst in the side. At least I hope he is. Having someone worse than him would be pretty diabolical.
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Old 19th December 2007, 16:49   #8
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Old 19th December 2007, 17:47   #9
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Old 19th December 2007, 18:20   #10
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Excellent post in general. I've highlighted the one bit I disagree with. Panesar has improved a bit in the field and is less of an embarassment but he's still the worst in the side. At least I hope he is. Having someone worse than him would be pretty diabolical.
I think you are pretty much right. He has improved in the field, but I think the state of his batting and fielding were made out to be much worse when he came in the side and his first test innings was probably his best so far, helping Collingwood to his first century. He's a number 10 or 11 but occasionally plays some great textbook shots and his technique is generally pretty good for a number 11.

His fielding again is poor by international standards, but I don't think he's quite as bad as you make out FS. You make it sound like his fielding is utterly laughable, when it's not. He doesn't make that many errors when the ball comes to him, but he's hidden in the field for obvious reasons. His arm is also reasonably accurate. He's just not a natural fielder, and not everyone is, so all you can ask them to be is as good as their ability will let them to be and I think Panesar has done a reasonable job with his fielding. He certainly wouldn't be the worst fielder in the Pakistan side.

Cook has taken some good catches under the lid, but has also dropped some, but he's not the best candidate for being in that position. Bell is a good fielder in close, but when you want a silly point and a short leg, it's hard to pick anyone else really.

Like I've said, you can't include players for their fielding, all you can do is have them work on it so they become the best fielders they can become, but even then mistakes will happen, and sometimes a few in a day like has happened today. It's unfortunate, but I fail to see there is much that can be done about it other than training harder on it, which might actually be a waste of time.
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Old 19th December 2007, 19:20   #11
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Old 19th December 2007, 19:43   #12
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Like I've said, you can't include players for their fielding...
That's been more or less explicit England policy ever since that Windies tour, and probably at various times before. It's a shame in a way, because it would be nice to have at least one person in the team for whom fielding is a specialist skill relevant in selection. In any case, the chap at one end of the catching line gets to wear gloves. And it would be bad luck for any fielding team to have to have a newish glovesman as well as a largely newish line. (And of course because many in our line didn't used to be there, we are missing some of them elsewhere too.) One factor is that there are few old heads in our team. Even if a player (batter or bowler) begins his career as a brilliant quick outfielder many will retire to the slips at some point and then get their eyes in there over some period. But we have lost alot of folk young of late. Our wise old braves are mostly out grazing somewhere. Also there is catching practice. I know there are other things to practise too and only so many hours even in a well-paid day, but a slip cradle is one of the finest inventions known to man and homage should be paid. Anyway, because catches (like persons innit) come only and ever in ones, it is all really about "luck" or "fate", and these things above are only some of the ways one might imagine twisting fate's arm* if such a luxury were to be afforded.

*there may be some kind of colonial jinx we need freeing from

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Old 19th December 2007, 20:32   #13
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If we'd chosen the bowling attack on the basis of fielding ability it would be Anderson, Broad, Swann and one of the other three playing. I think it has to be a consideration. If a bowler is expected to contribute in at least 2 disciplines then why is it ok that a batsman contributes just one a la Cook? Vaughan gets a let off since he can bowl spin and Strauss since he is a good slip fielder.
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Old 19th December 2007, 23:49   #14
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That's been more or less explicit England policy ever since that Windies tour, and probably at various times before. It's a shame in a way, because it would be nice to have at least one person in the team for whom fielding is a specialist skill relevant in selection. In any case, the chap at one end of the catching line gets to wear gloves. And it would be bad luck for any fielding team to have to have a newish glovesman as well as a largely newish line. (And of course because many in our line didn't used to be there, we are missing some of them elsewhere too.) One factor is that there are few old heads in our team. Even if a player (batter or bowler) begins his career as a brilliant quick outfielder many will retire to the slips at some point and then get their eyes in there over some period. But we have lost alot of folk young of late. Our wise old braves are mostly out grazing somewhere. Also there is catching practice. I know there are other things to practise too and only so many hours even in a well-paid day, but a slip cradle is one of the finest inventions known to man and homage should be paid. Anyway, because catches (like persons innit) come only and ever in ones, it is all really about "luck" or "fate", and these things above are only some of the ways one might imagine twisting fate's arm* if such a luxury were to be afforded.

*there may be some kind of colonial jinx we need freeing from
A fairly whimsical and whimsically fair summary. The problem is that it's almost impossible to see how on an individual selection basis fielding can be anything more than a tie breaker for an otherwise exceptionally close decision. This can leave a situation where a side is well short of fielding skill, however and this seems to be what has happened to England recently.

Your point about fielders retiring to the slips as they age a bit is an interesting one. As you point out, the old men of the England side don't appear to be in the England side. Vaughan is the only cover fielder who might have retired to slip and frankly his catching couldn't possibly justify a position there. Having not a single specialist slip is a pretty poor state of affairs. I think you've mentioned the irony that Shah wasn't picked, perhaps partly on Bopara's superior fielding, when a slip fielder would have been more use than even the most dynamic cover / backward point in the world. Bopara did drop one today too, albeit a tough one.
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Old 20th December 2007, 09:19   #15
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That's been more or less explicit England policy ever since that Windies tour, and probably at various times before. It's a shame in a way, because it would be nice to have at least one person in the team for whom fielding is a specialist skill relevant in selection. In any case, the chap at one end of the catching line gets to wear gloves. And it would be bad luck for any fielding team to have to have a newish glovesman as well as a largely newish line. (And of course because many in our line didn't used to be there, we are missing some of them elsewhere too.) One factor is that there are few old heads in our team. Even if a player (batter or bowler) begins his career as a brilliant quick outfielder many will retire to the slips at some point and then get their eyes in there over some period. But we have lost alot of folk young of late. Our wise old braves are mostly out grazing somewhere. Also there is catching practice. I know there are other things to practise too and only so many hours even in a well-paid day, but a slip cradle is one of the finest inventions known to man and homage should be paid. Anyway, because catches (like persons innit) come only and ever in ones, it is all really about "luck" or "fate", and these things above are only some of the ways one might imagine twisting fate's arm* if such a luxury were to be afforded.

*there may be some kind of colonial jinx we need freeing from
I dont think thats any thing to do with it. As mentioned above only 4 (Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood and Bopara) of this eleven are athletes. The rest are hephalumps who are all slow in the field. Not a lot we can do about this with this eleven.Add two of the 4 atheletes in the slips (out of position) and Prior having a poor time and we have what we have.
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Old 20th December 2007, 09:46   #16
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I dont think thats any thing to do with it.
I think it might be where slips are concerned.
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Old 20th December 2007, 09:50   #17
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I really cant think of past examples of wise old heads retiring to the slips as their reactions slow (let alone many). The decent slips are slips most of their career.

Pringle made a simple point about slip practice for novices like Bell. Expecting a catch every three seconds isnt the same as getting one, maybe, every three hours.

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Old 20th December 2007, 10:05   #18
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I really cant think of past examples of wise old heads retiring to the slips as their reactions slow (let alone many). The decent slips are slips most of their career.

Pringle made a simple point about slip practice for novices like Bell. Expecting a catch every three seconds isnt the same as getting one, maybe, every three hours.
There are quite a few seniorish batters who are excellent slippers but not in the team at present for various reasons. I'm not necessarily saying they should be, but if they were, then we might have a better line.
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Old 20th December 2007, 10:08   #19
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Fielding is something that has been discussed at length out here.

There seems to be no real thought gone into it by management. At one stage yesterday, Bopara was at mid-on and Monty in the covers - why?

Monty may have improved, but you can still knock the ball straight at him and ease through for a single.

Why the hell isn't Ian Bell under the lid? Cook has missed about half a dozen half chances under at forward short leg, he doesn't look a natural one whilst Bell actually excelled there and has been dropping them in the slips.

Its difficult to know what to do, but I tihnk Cook must be converted into a slip. He lacks the athleticism elsewhere but should as an opener have the hand-eye coordination.

I'd rather KP was kept out of the slip cordon, I don't think he has good hands and is far superior in the outfield. Vaughan has awful hands and must be kept out of the slips as well. All in all it creates a few problems.

Bopara has fielded 3rd a bit, as has Anderson, but ANderson isn't going to get into the team unless we suffer a lot of injuries.

I don't have the solutions, but I know very few inferior fielding teams win series
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Old 20th December 2007, 10:10   #20
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