Setting Your Field

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by Kevin Keys

Setting your field

This is one of the hardest skills to learn and will take lots of study and much careful thought. Take every opportunity to study field-settings used by bowlers similar to you in style in first-class or international cricket.

Remember that when the ball leaves the bowler’s hand, he is leading eleven players in attacking the batter, not just one.

Jack Massie said it all in 1926:

The bowler decides where he wants his field placed and the captain places his fielders in these positions. Each bowler should be taught right from the start to study this matter of placing his own field to the best advantage for his own bowling, and it is a matter which each individual bowler must study very closely.

The most important thing to be borne in mind is that fieldsmen must not be wasted by placing them at random in order to stop the result of bad balls, but they must be placed where they will be most useful for good bowling and the bowler must see to it that he cuts the “loose stuff” down to a minimum. Further, because it is desirable to have a man in a certain position for one batsman, it does not follow that he should be taught to study the batsman accordingly in order that he may make the best use of his field.

It will not pay as a general rule to plug away at a batsman’s weakness the whole time as this will have the effect very often of giving him practice in this particular point with anything but the desired result. It may be found far more effective to go through strength to weakness.” R. J. A. Massie, Bowling, p. 13.

Bowl to your field

You and your captain should have agreed on a bowling plan, which it is your job to carry out. Bowl to the field the two of you have agreed upon. If you think the field needs changing, don’t do it yourself as it is the ultimate responsibility of the captain. The captain may have spotted a weakness in the batter that you are not aware of, and although the field that has been set may seem strange to you, it is your duty to bowl to this field to the limit of your ability. The captain, in the end, has the ultimate say, but will be mindful of your wishes and will do his best to accommodate them.

If you are on the attack, crowd the new batter or any who shows signs of lack of confidence. You must learn to recognise the major wicket-taking fielding positions for your bowling style and be prepared to change the field as conditions change.

If the batter begins to settle in and attack, withdraw the attacking field and fall back to a more defensive plan, designed to slow the batter’s scoring rate. If his partner is more defensive or less capable, resume the attack when he is on strike. Don’t give in too easily to total defence.