3 Phases of Fielding

November 14, 2016
Steve Chapman

Throughout my time in the game both as a player and more recently as a coach, I have firm believe that there are essentially 3 key phases within the game for the bowling or fielding team. Have a look at them below and see if you agree. Depending on whether you are indeed in the fielding side or the batsman, there is food for thought as to how each phase can have a bearing on the game. Whilst you`re thinking about these 3 phases imagine how difficult or easy it would be to bowl a dot ball at a batsman and how this might change according to which phase you are within the game. 

Phase 1 – Optimistic 

Exactly as the title suggests – anytime that there is optimism in the game from a fielding perspective. When you think about it, this period could be anytime in an innings when the fielding team has just taken a wicket. Other times to describe the state of Optimism in a game would be the start of an innings or straight after a break of some sort, drinks, lunch and tea etc. Bowlers bowling with a new ball or maybe in a new spell, with generally increased enthusiasm from the fielders regarding the start of a new period of the game. This period is usually the most dangerous for a batting team. Fielders voices are heard, energy levels seem to be higher from the bowlers and pressure towards the batsman starting on a new partnership is never more evident. Batting teams strive to get through this period as safely as possible without losing any wickets.

Phase 2 – Work Hard  

“Come on boys lets work hard here!!” 

This is a general cry often from a senior member of the fielding side as the team tries to maintain pressure on the batsman. By now (from experience) there has been 10 or 12 over’s since a wicket was taken, perhaps around 45minutes. Fielders are starting to lose a little interest (if were being honest) and the batsmen have survived an intense effort from the fielders to try to break up the partnership. At this point the more senior players are the most vocal ones in the field and usually one of the two batsmen has assumed the authority in the innings.  I think this point is important.  I know it’s always the way to try to get either batsman out at any given time, but as the game settles somewhat it is important to identify which batsman is the one more likely to hurt you when he is on strike (the aggressor.) Try to be a little more defensive with your field settings (even though you can still bowling attacking deliveries.) The other batsman (who I like to call the facilitator) is the guy that as a team we can try to get out. Slightly more attacking fields, in terms maybe of close catchers, not usually boundary fielders, because as a team were trying to encourage this guy to play more aggressive shots in the hope we can get him out rather than pushing singles to get the aggressor back on strike.

Phase 3 – Toil

Again another period of 10 or 12 over’s has passed since we tried to “work hard” (so 25 over’s or so) and were still without success as a fielding team. It`s been well over an hour now since we had team success of a wicket and generally as a fielding unit we`re toiling somewhat through our over’s. By now two batsmen are set and there are boundary fielders around the ground. As a team we are waiting for a batsman error. These times can be tough, especially when the wicket is flat or two batsmen are skilled and well organised. The fielding team is on the defensive trying to minimise damage to the scoreboard and bowlers are under pressure to be consistent with their lines and lengths. As batsmen this is the time when batting is at it’s easiest, it’s just not always that easy to get to this phase!!

Needless to say batting teams strive to get into the second and the third phases of the fielding game, whilst the fielding team with their bowlers are desperate to keep the game in the first two. It really is a war of attrition and having the ability to play the game in your preferred phase really does hold the key to victory!!

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