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Keeping ahead of the field

cricket Updated: Sep 12, 2011 00:06 IST
Sanjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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England have got a taste of what to expect in their return series in India in the last two one-dayers. Alastair Cook's men are assured of a tough examination from a team smarting from humiliation they have inflicted in their own backyard.

They won't have the comfort of bowling on green wickets, or the luxury of batting in familiar conditions. For a batting line-up which looked ill at ease when the ball turned just a bit at the Oval, batting on low turners will be a struggle. For the seamers, without movement, it could be a nightmare against batsmen who love hitting through the line.

Way ahead
However, one aspect of their game which England will be confident of outshining India anywhere is their fielding.
England understand the importance of saving runs and taking catches and take a lot of pride in excelling in it. The difference between the way the two teams turned out on the park in this series says it all.

Among shots of fours, sixes and stumps flying, the highlight of the series has also been the acrobatic catch Ian Bell took to dismiss Manoj Tiwary at Southampton and the stunning run-out of Rahul Dravid by James Anderson the Oval. The acrobatic dives and reflex catches are something England fielders have learnt by putting in long hours in practice.

The day before Anderson sprinted and produced a one-hand pick-up for the direct hit to send back Dravid, he had devoted more than half-an-hour perfecting just that.

It's an overall competitive unit but Bell, Stuart Broad, Ravi Bopara, Cook and Anderson have stood out in this series.

Precise positions
At the Lord's on Sunday, Bell and Broad manned the long boundaries in the 'V', Ravi Bopara was at short cover, Alastair Cook at square-leg and Anderson at short mid-wicket.

Watching England's fielding drills is an education. The focus is on simulation of match situations. At practice, the focus is on doing the drills according to the player's specialized fielding position. Anderson devotes his time in fielding sessions practicing at mid-on and midwicket with the fielding coach acting as the batsman.

Bell and Broad take the long hits and high catches while Bopara works at cover fielding. Wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter has a thick, elastic rope tied to his waist and is given sideways catches to increase his strength and agility. A regular part of his drills, the rope is held by a support staff and the 'keeper has to overcome the resistance to reach the ball.