Dumb man’s guide to cricket’s fielding positions

It is not rare for a person to be left scratching his head when erudite commentators go on a rampage, especially during test cricket, about the various fielding positions. Worry no more, the dumb man’s guide to cricket’s fielding positions is here.

A game which originated in south-east England and became the country’s national sport in the 18th century has a few peculiar positions where fielders are stationed. Fine leg, short leg or third man have nothing to do with their literal meaning and hence, it’s essential to understand the fielding positions in cricket to enjoy the game to its fullest.

The two cardinal divisions on the cricket field are the off side and the on side. From the perspective of a right-hander, the right hand side for the batsman is the off side while the left hand side is the on side.

The player running in with the ball in hand is the bowler while the one with the helmet and gloves on behind the wickets is the wicket-keeper. This leaves nine players in the fielding team who are placed at various places on the field as the captain tries his best to plug the holes, prevent runs and place fielders in positions where a catch is most likely.

The close-in fielders include slips, leg slip, gully and leg gully. Silly point is stationed right in front of the face of the batsman at the edge of the pitch. Parallel to him is short leg. A few yards away from silly point is silly mid-off and parallel to him is silly mid-on.

Now we come to the inner circle. The fielder in a straight line, square from the shoulder of the batman, near the 30-yard circle is point. On his right is cover and on his left is backward point in clockwise direction.

Cover is followed by extra cover and mid-off. When the mid-off is stationed near the boundary, it’s called long-off. It’s counterpart on the on side is long-on.

Similarly, mid-on is parallel to mid-off, and mid-wicket is parallel to covers. Behind short leg is square leg, which has backward square leg on his right and mid-wicket on his left.

On almost all fielding positions in the circle, if you add the prefix deep, it means that the fielder is stationed near the boundary. Prefix fine means closer to the wicket while square means further away from the wicket.

That’s a good starting point if you want to engage more with cricket. Stay tuned for chapter number two.

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