Fielding has been a key part of Australia’s success, dating back to Bobby Simpson&rsqou;s reign as coach. This summer, however, there has been criticism of the management for not practising catching enough. England, meanwhile, have worked hard on their fielding, but have not used a specialist coach since Trevor Penney worked with the squad for the one-day internationals.
Australia are touring with only two coaches, Buchanan and Jamie Siddons. Mike Young, a baseball coach who has worked with the team in the past, believes they are paying the price for not bringing a specialist fielding coach.
Craig Savage, another baseball coach, has been working with Sussex for the last three years and believes cricket can learn much from his sport. “Fielding is a huge part of cricket but teams don’t spend enough time on it,” he said.
“Technique is hugely important. If you get your hands to the ball there’s no reason why you shouldn’t catch it, but you need to learn to read how the ball comes off the bat, how to catch the ball on the run, how to run into position before making a catch. Above all, you need to have soft hands. If you hands are hard and tensed up, there’s every chance you’ll spill the ball.”
Absolutely. From a baseball player’s perspective, fielding in cricket appears sloppy and even lazy. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of gloves; it’s all about technique and, perhaps more importantly, what might be described as the economic logic of the game.
Fielding is far more valuable in baseball than in cricket. Why? because the relative value of the two objectives in each sport are reversed. In baseball, unlike cricket, runs are rare and valuable while and outs are common and should be routine.
An error in the field might cost the fielding team just one run in both games, but while this is usually no more than a minor irritant in a cricket, it’s a catastrophe that could cost a team the game in baseball.
Consequentially, baseball players spend more time practicing fielding and have developed more graceful techniques. It’s wonderful that cricket is adopting some of them.
Incidentally, the reversed economics of outs and runs also affects the different informal etiquette of the two games: A baseball player who celebrates an out like a cricketer taking a wicket is guilty of very poor form and liable to have a pitch placed squarly in his ear the next time he comes to bat.