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Thread: Fielders' positions nomenclature

  1. #1
    Ike
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    Fielders' positions nomenclature

    (Note: if there is already a thread on this somewhere, please direct me to it. It may answer many of my questions already, and I don't want to be repetitive.)

    This topic has come up peripherally in a couple of other threads I've been involved in (I'm new to cricket and new to the forum), and I'd like to place here various questions I have about the way fielding positions are described by cricket commentators and fans (I hope 'fans' is not an Americanism--if it is, please correct me). To start generally, I've studied various diagrams, in books and online, including CricketWeb's own, and find that none of them are close to agreeing with each other. It's not so much that they contradict each other (although occasionally they do), it's more that none of them show all the positions, based on what you'd have if you combined all the diagrams. Anyway, let me start this thread with a few introductory questions. I'd appreciate help from any more knowledgeable folks who don't mind helping out a newbie (even an ancient one; 67 years old), who's had the opportunity here in the States to follow cricket online (via streaming) for several months now, and so am reading all I can to better understand this game I find fascinating.

    1. The names for positions stretching out along the line of slips seem to be described in various ways by various commentators. The diagrams are fairly consistent on this: they only mention slips (first, second, etc.) and the gulley. However, in actual matches the situation is not always so simple. For example, you may have 3 slips 'in a row', then a fairly substantial space, another fielder, another substantial space, and another fielder, the last fairly close to point, but still backward. I've heard this called five slips, 4 slips and a gulley, and 3 slips and two gulleys (these last once called fine gulley and gulley, or maybe it was gulley and wide gulley). In my ignorance, it seems to me that the spacing between fielders should determine if fielders are all slips, or some of them something else. When there are two large gaps in the succession of fields, I would have thought the first gap makes the next fielder the gulley, and the next gap would make the last fielder, who's really quite close to the line of the batsman's wicket, most accurately described as backward point. However, I've never heard a fielder described as backward point.* Any comments on this situation (five fielders along the line of slips, but with a couple of gaps) would be appreciated.

    *Update: during the u19 final, I did both hear and see (in a note at the bottom of the screen) a Pakistani player referred to as backward point, so I guess the term isn't purely of my invention.

    1a. Here is a picture Adders provided in another, related thread.

    Attachment 21187

    Fascinating, to me at least! I guess this would just be called 9 slips, especially since there is no meaningful gap among any of them. but what if there were only 7 or 8, with a gap between two of them somewhere in the middle. Would they be described any differently, or still as just 7 or 8 slips?

    (Side note: what type of bowler would be most appropriate for such a positioning of fielders? I'd guess a fast bowler consistently bowling outside off stump, or a leg cutter? Or am I all mixed up on bowler types? This is another topic I need a lot of help with, and will probably be starting a thread on at some point.)

    2. One of the most glaring variation, both on diagrams and in commentary, is the use of both 'sweeper' and 'deep cover' to describe what is, as far as I can tell, the same position. Diagrams generally use one term or the other, but never both that I can find. Is there any difference between these two positions? Or is it merely a matter of different habits of different commentators?

    3. Speaking of covers, can you have an 'extra cover' without having a 'cover'? Or, if there is a fielder in the 'extra cover' position, is he going to be called a mid off, or perhaps 'wide mid off', if there is no cover?

    4. Concerning 'fine leg', some diagrams and commentators seem to place fine leg right by the boundary, while others place the position half-way, with 'deep fine leg' being by the boundary. If a commentator says the fielders include a fine leg, and you can't see the fielder because of the television or streaming video picture being focused narrowly on the pitch, where do you figure the fielder is positioned, half-way or deep?

    5. I can't resist adding a question about 'silly' positions, even though my list is getting rather long for a first post in a thread. I remember silly mid off and mid on from the one cricket match I saw in my youth (1967), a Test match at Trent Bridge, and the professor who explained positions to me described those two positions (no recollection if any fielders actually played them on that day, I doubt it). It seemed to me one of the most colorful terms in cricket (along with googley and a few others), so I've always remembered it with a smile. And when I first started being able to view cricket matches on the 'net a few months ago, I saw, fairly often, fielders playing virtually 'in the batsman's face'. I thought at first these were silly mid off or mid on. But as I studied and listened, I came to realize that the silly mid's are positions just wide of the middle of the pitch, on either side, and I don't think I've seen anyone actually play that position, nor have I heard a commentator mention either of them. Rather, on the off side, a fielder 'in the batsman's face' seems to be uniformly called silly point. Is that correct? Yet on the leg side, best I can tell, the exactly corresponding position is not called silly leg but short leg. Is that correct? Or is there a term 'silly leg', or something else for that position? It seems to me that 'short leg' covers both a fielder playing half way in from square leg and a fielder right in the batsman's face on the leg side. Is this correct?

    As I try to get a better understanding of the rich depth of cricket, I realize that much of what I ask about, especially with regard to fielding positions, is stuff that life-long cricket followers probably don't even think about. When you describe where a fielder is playing you don't have to think about it. When a commentator says where a player is fielding, you can automatically picture pretty much where the player is located. But for someone coming to the game in mature (to say the least) age, it's very different, and I'm only gradually getting to the point where if I hear a position, if it's one I understand well, I can place it without thinking (such as long on and long off). Some of the hardest to keep straight (and so I can't place them on the field without thinking about it) are the backward positions on the leg side. Maybe that's because there can be only two at any given time. In any case, if some of you wouldn't mind sharing your understanding of something you normally don't even have to think about, I'd much appreciate it.

    One last note: I find that cricket on television/streaming concentrates so much on the run up, delivery, and batsman, that you can rarely get a view of the whole field to see where the players are positioned, which seems to me to be a critical factor in the bowling side's strategy, and one that should be almost constantly adjusted based on the bowler and the batsman. It's one reason why I'd love to be able to see some cricket in person, though I have neither the time nor the means to travel (necessarily across water) to see top level cricket played. I do hope to see some 'pick up matches' (an Americanism? games played by youths or adults who just play locally for fun, wherever they can find a spot to make a cricket field out of) here in east Tennessee once the weather warms up. But all of you regular followers of cricket, do you somehow manage to know where all the fielders are positioned throughout a match you watch on television? If so, how? Or do you just forego knowing that aspect of the bowling side's strategy? Commentators, I've noticed, will often mention positioning when they think the bowling side is making an egregious error, but they mention typically only one position missing (or unneeded), they hardly ever seem to set the whole field. Am I correct in this, or am I just missing a lot because the commentators are covering too much information too fast for me as of yet?

    And for all who've read to the end (if any ), thank you!

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    I don't usually access CW by phone because my eyesight isn't the best, but I'm stuck on a train so I did, saw the thread title and had this terrible sinking feeling, followed by one of great relief when I realised the OP was by Ike and not Loko

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    International Debutant Adders's Avatar
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    LOL, as if Loco would use the term "nomenclature" Fred (For the benefit if Ike, Loco is our Canadian (I think) who wants to change cricket into baseball and keeps starting threads on this point, Has even suggested the bowlers should be allowed to "pitch" and that batsmen should use round bats!!)

    I'm gonna let more knowledgable posters than myself address your questions regarding fielding positions Ike, tbh......I still find some of them confusing and there definitely is some contradictions there that I guess we all just take for granted.

    One thing that did strike a chord though was this comment........


    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post

    One last note: I find that cricket on television/streaming concentrates so much on the run up, delivery, and batsman, that you can rarely get a view of the whole field to see where the players are positioned, which seems to me to be a critical factor in the bowling side's strategy, and one that should be almost constantly adjusted based on the bowler and the batsman. It's one reason why I'd love to be able to see some cricket in person, though I have neither the time nor the means to travel (necessarily across water) to see top level cricket played. I do hope to see some 'pick up matches' (an Americanism? games played by youths or adults who just play locally for fun, wherever they can find a spot to make a cricket field out of) here in east Tennessee once the weather warms up.
    As I was reading your post I was thinking this guy really needs to get to a test match and experience it first hand, so it is a real shame that is not possible. Sadly whilst I think the ICC is looking (hoping) to break into the US market I don't think it will be test cricket that they bring to you but T20.

    The first test series I remember watching on TV was England V's the West Indies in '84 when the Windies thumped us 5-0, they were just so unbelievably good it was hard not to get into it. That sparked a casual interest that stayed with me for years, but it wasn't until the first time that I went to a test match that I really got hooked. I'd moved to Australia by then and my Dad was coming over for a visit and suggested we go to the Ashes test at the MCG in 2002.........I was just overwhelmed by it all, the majesty of the occasion, the history and rivalry between the two sides, the sights the sounds...even the smells was like nothing I'd experienced before (and I've been to dozens of EPL and 1st division football games in England)

    Until you sit side on to the bowler, you have no concept of just how fast these bowlers bowl, how far back the wicket keeper and slips actually are or how incredible the arms are of the fielders throwing in from the boundary. None of these things are done justice by a TV camera. And of course as you say, you also see the field in its entirety so get a better understanding of scoring options for the batsmen etc.

    Unfortunately my little ramble there probably isn't much help to you at all but if ever you do have the opportunity, even to watch some non professional cricket then grab it.......with your keen interest already I'm sure it will hook you for life!!

    The Caribbean isn't "that" far from Tennessee

  4. #4
    Cricketer Of The Year Agent Nationaux's Avatar
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    Loko is Japanese and not Canadian.
    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Yeah, look, it gives me a pain deep inside my uterus to admit it, but it's Ajmal until such time as we get a working throwing law again.
    Never in a million years would I have thought Brumby to admit this!!!!!!


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    Global Moderator Spark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post
    1. The names for positions stretching out along the line of slips seem to be described in various ways by various commentators. The diagrams are fairly consistent on this: they only mention slips (first, second, etc.) and the gulley. However, in actual matches the situation is not always so simple. For example, you may have 3 slips 'in a row', then a fairly substantial space, another fielder, another substantial space, and another fielder, the last fairly close to point, but still backward. I've heard this called five slips, 4 slips and a gulley, and 3 slips and two gulleys (these last once called fine gulley and gulley, or maybe it was gulley and wide gulley). In my ignorance, it seems to me that the spacing between fielders should determine if fielders are all slips, or some of them something else. When there are two large gaps in the succession of fields, I would have thought the first gap makes the next fielder the gulley, and the next gap would make the last fielder, who's really quite close to the line of the batsman's wicket, most accurately described as backward point. However, I've never heard a fielder described as backward point.* Any comments on this situation (five fielders along the line of slips, but with a couple of gaps) would be appreciated.
    As a general rule, the use of 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc depends only on where they stand. So even if you don't have a traditional first slip, if a guy is fielding where second slip would usually stand in a complete slip cordon then you call him second slip. IIRC you have five-ish slips before you get to gully - but, as you may have noticed, there are no hard and fast rules for these things and it's mostly done by convention.

    Backward point is one of the most important non-slip fielding positions in the game btw.

    2. One of the most glaring variation, both on diagrams and in commentary, is the use of both 'sweeper' and 'deep cover' to describe what is, as far as I can tell, the same position. Diagrams generally use one term or the other, but never both that I can find. Is there any difference between these two positions? Or is it merely a matter of different habits of different commentators?
    The correct name is probably deep cover, but "sweeper" is a pretty good description of what that fielder usually does - ie. runs around the outfield mopping up any deliveries that get to that general part of the field. So both are fine. Again, it's by convention and choice - so long as people know what you mean, no one really minds.

    3. Speaking of covers, can you have an 'extra cover' without having a 'cover'? Or, if there is a fielder in the 'extra cover' position, is he going to be called a mid off, or perhaps 'wide mid off', if there is no cover?
    Usually if you have a cover in, he's meant to be able to "cover" the extra cover part of the fielder too - you wouldn't have both in unless you were trying a few short covers as a tactic, as they'd almost be standing on top of each other otherwise. Generally speaking, you'll see a wide-ish mid off much more often than an extra cover on top of a regulation cover.

    4. Concerning 'fine leg', some diagrams and commentators seem to place fine leg right by the boundary, while others place the position half-way, with 'deep fine leg' being by the boundary. If a commentator says the fielders include a fine leg, and you can't see the fielder because of the television or streaming video picture being focused narrowly on the pitch, where do you figure the fielder is positioned, half-way or deep?
    Deep. Particularly in Test cricket, fine leg is almost always deep (field restrictions means the fine leg is sometimes brought inside a thirty-yard circle in limited overs cricket). The idea being that if a bowler accidentally gets a bit too legside with the line of his delivery, he doesn't automatically get hit for four from a little glance down in that area.

    5. I can't resist adding a question about 'silly' positions, even though my list is getting rather long for a first post in a thread. I remember silly mid off and mid on from the one cricket match I saw in my youth (1967), a Test match at Trent Bridge, and the professor who explained positions to me described those two positions (no recollection if any fielders actually played them on that day, I doubt it). It seemed to me one of the most colorful terms in cricket (along with googley and a few others), so I've always remembered it with a smile. And when I first started being able to view cricket matches on the 'net a few months ago, I saw, fairly often, fielders playing virtually 'in the batsman's face'. I thought at first these were silly mid off or mid on. But as I studied and listened, I came to realize that the silly mid's are positions just wide of the middle of the pitch, on either side, and I don't think I've seen anyone actually play that position, nor have I heard a commentator mention either of them. Rather, on the off side, a fielder 'in the batsman's face' seems to be uniformly called silly point. Is that correct? Yet on the leg side, best I can tell, the exactly corresponding position is not called silly leg but short leg. Is that correct? Or is there a term 'silly leg', or something else for that position? It seems to me that 'short leg' covers both a fielder playing half way in from square leg and a fielder right in the batsman's face on the leg side. Is this correct?
    Ashes 5th Test Day 2 England Batting Crumble - YouTube At about 40 seconds in you can see a catch being taken at silly mid on. It's not a particularly popular position, but it does happen. Short leg, on the other hand, is generally for a ball aimed at the batsman's body which is fended away, goes up in the air square on the legside and is caught.

    Commentators, I've noticed, will often mention positioning when they think the bowling side is making an egregious error, but they mention typically only one position missing (or unneeded), they hardly ever seem to set the whole field. Am I correct in this, or am I just missing a lot because the commentators are covering too much information too fast for me as of yet?
    You just have to pay attention when they do show it between deliveries, as you're correct that it is critical information to know.
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    International Debutant Adders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post
    1a. Here is a picture Adders provided in another, related thread.

    Attachment 21187

    Fascinating, to me at least! I guess this would just be called 9 slips, especially since there is no meaningful gap among any of them. but what if there were only 7 or 8, with a gap between two of them somewhere in the middle. Would they be described any differently, or still as just 7 or 8 slips?

    (Side note: what type of bowler would be most appropriate for such a positioning of fielders? I'd guess a fast bowler consistently bowling outside off stump, or a leg cutter? Or am I all mixed up on bowler types? This is another topic I need a lot of help with, and will probably be starting a thread on at some point.)
    As Ikes link to the picture didn't work for some reason here it is again.......

    Nine_slips.jpg

    Yeah, you'd only see a slip cordon like that for a fast bowler, getting the ball to swing away from the right handed batsmen looking for an edge. It really is not the sort of thing you'd see often, I'd suggest Lillee was on a hatrick for them to set a field like that for him. I've seen another awesome image before of Warne bowling with all 10 fielders around the bat but can't seem to find it anywhere. With a spinner there would be no point having 9 slips, but you'd have them close in in other positions like short leg, leg slip, silly point and silly mid off etc.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Burgey's Avatar
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    Chappell set that field for Lillee so the latter could use it for the cover of his book. It was a test in NZ in the 70s iirc, or perhaps a tour match.
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    Nice one Burgey.....I knew someone here would know the story.

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    International Coach uvelocity's Avatar
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    i had a field like that once to some soft cocks playing for a draw. ****s still couldnt get a run
    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    I just love all kinds of balls.

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    International Debutant Adders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uvelocity View Post
    i had a field like that once to some soft cocks playing for a draw. ****s still couldnt get a run
    Probably because you were bowling leg side wides you spud!!

  11. #11
    Dan
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    Spark's basically won this thread, but I have a couple of comments to add:

    Quote Originally Posted by Spark View Post
    Deep. Particularly in Test cricket, fine leg is almost always deep (field restrictions means the fine leg is sometimes brought inside a thirty-yard circle in limited overs cricket). The idea being that if a bowler accidentally gets a bit too legside with the line of his delivery, he doesn't automatically get hit for four from a little glance down in that area.
    Yeah, whether technically correct or not, if you hear a commentator talking about fine leg, odds are he's right back on the fence. The 'deep' is generally held to be self-evident unless it's being described as a short fine leg.

    One of the biggest tactical 'rules' of cricket is that your fieldsmen should either be saving a single (i.e. no more than about 25-30 yards away from the pitch), or saving the boundary (within 2-3 yards of the rope). As such you will rarely - if ever - see fieldsmen posted halfway or 2/3 of the way back. Easier for them to run forward in the event of a catch, rather than backpedal.

    The notable exception I can think of was when bowling to Murali. The only shot he really had was a weird chip thing to midwicket that, almost without fail, would land 2/3 of the way to the fence.


    Quote Originally Posted by Spark View Post
    Ashes 5th Test Day 2 England Batting Crumble - YouTube At about 40 seconds in you can see a catch being taken at silly mid on. It's not a particularly popular position, but it does happen. Short leg, on the other hand, is generally for a ball aimed at the batsman's body which is fended away, goes up in the air square on the legside and is caught.
    I wouldn't really call that a silly mid on per se, but that's me being a bit pedantic rather than there being any functional difference. A silly mid on or silly mid off is immensely popular at park level for exactly the dismissal you see there . Just that at Test level the ball, being quicker, flies a bit further and hence the fielder stands an extra 5 yards back.

  12. #12
    Ike
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    A belated thank you for all the responses! I actually tried to respond a few days ago when I had the time, but when my post was almost done, I misclicked on my mouse and navigated away from the page, destroying the auto-save. In frustration, I gave up for the evening. But I'm back.

    Thanks first to Spark! A wealth of information, because of which I feel I have a much better understanding of positions now. Let me add a couple of follow ups.
    --Concerning 'silly' positions, I take it then that anyone positioned closer to the batsman than square leg, along that same line, is a short leg, whether they are only half-way between the square leg position and the batsman, or they are just a few feet away from the batsman?
    --And is there any historical reason anyone knows of that very close positions of mid on, mid off, and point, are called 'silly', but (square) leg is just called short? It looks to me to be just as "silly" (that is, dangerous) as the others.

    And in response to Dan (thank you), you mention that most fielders are meant to save single or save boundaries. That makes sense, but from the cricket I watch on television, it seems that a lot of fielders (especially mid on and mid off) are positioned to save doubles. Is that correct, or am I misinterpreting?

    In response to Adders, who always has great posts, I'd love to watch some first class cricket in person. Don't know that it will happen, but it would be great to be able to watch a Test match in the Windies, or in England, now that I'm starting to appreciate the game. I did see one day of a Test match btw, but alas I knew very little of the game then. It was England-Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 1967 (Saturday August 12). Back then I knew a few basic rules, but didn't know any of the players, or the historic nature of Trent Bridge, etc. Sidenote: I looked up the Test on cricinfo, and saw that Boycott, Cowdrey, Graveney, and D'Oliveira, among others, played in that match. How I wish I could remember any of it!

    Thanks also to all for the information about the '9 slip' photo.

    And quite off topic, I loved it that I could understand Adders' 'sledge' at Burgey (sledge is a word, in this meaning, that I've just come across in reading "The Essential Wisden"; no idea if it can be applied to a friendly jab in a forum), mentioning leg side wides. Reminds me of how proud I was (little things matter when you're just trying to learn something) when I signed up for this forum. Instead of having to copy fuzzy numbers and letters, it asked a cricket question, which I thought was cool. The question happened to be "What country does Brendon McCullum play for?" Having just watched him just achieve New Zealand's first ever triple century, even I knew the answer without looking it up.

    One last position question: I understand now that long stop, rather like cow corner and silly mid on/off, is a position you aren't likely to see or hear described in A or first class cricket (although I did hear one reference to it in the Windies-England ODIs, 'he's almost playing long stop'). But since such a position exists, at least at the lower levels of the game, is there a position called 'short stop'? I ask because American baseball has such a position (the only one it has that isn't named intuitively and dully), and the term makes no sense in baseball, so I wonder if it was taken from cricket, as it was played 150-200 years ago.



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