Thursday, 18 November 2010

A fielding side

They also serve who only stand on the boundary for 50overs.  For no reason that makes sense, Fantasy Bob found himself musing today on fielding.

The development of one day cricket has brought fielding to the fore and to a level of perfection far beyond what was seen when Peter West and Brian Johnston sat in the commentators' eerie.  Cricketers seem hugely more athletic now than in the days of black and white.  Or is it the development of biological washing powder which makes players less anxious about getting their whites covered in grass stains?  Chases to the boundary seemed gentlemanly in those flickering days and  FB doubts if Johnners ever saw a sliding stop - this technique seemed suddenly to appear fully formed and now everyone does it, particularly Carlton's juniors.

While it is interesting to speculate, it is impossible to know how the greats of the past would match up to the demands of the present.  So who have been the greatest outfielders?  When FB was growing up there was only one contender - Colin Bland.  So fantastic was he in the covers that South Africa had to be banned from international cricket so that batsmen could sleep easy at night and the quick single could remain part of the game. 

Then a line of greats followed one after the other: there was Clive Lloyd, a man whose arms seemed preternaturally long as he menacingly stalked the covers.   He was able to get to any ball in just one stride, pick up and throw all at the same time.  Lethal. Then Rags, aka Derek Randall, a jack in box, never still and always a threat -  FB suspects it may be Rags who invented the slide since he threw himself around.  Then Jonty Rhodes - perhaps the first player to be picked first and foremost as a fielder - his batting was a little below the class of the others (35.66 compared to Bland's 49.08).  Others came near - David Gower was as sharp a cover as any before his shoulder fell apart, Neil Fairbrother might not have been as great a bat but he was special in the field.  FB also recalls Paul Sheahan as a superb extra cover in the late 1960s. 

Nowadays, there are just too many to choose from.  Dilshan, Youvrav, de Villiers, Gibbs, Ponting - the list is long adn getting longer.  Ponting makes a claim for being the most versatile since he can excel in just about any position. 

World's best?
But, in true patriotic fashion FB's vote for best contemporary fielder goes to Paul Collingwood.  This may be because he is the only one he has actually seen live: when the Saltires played England in June this year Collingwood must have stopped 30-40 runs at backward point.  There were no flash run outs and no spectacular catches came his way - just as well for Scotland - take a look at this link.  But for anticipation, speed of movement and security of handling on the ground, it was a breathtaking exhibition.  Worth the admission price.  The memory  of his performance still warms the cold November night. 

FB tips Colly to be the fielder of the Ashes series.


  1. Collingwood stopping 30-40 runs from being scored is also true when he is batting on Day 5 for a 1 wicket in hand draw

  2. Thanks Golandaaz - yes there is a virtue in making it your priority to be there to face the nest ball.