We have had a few discussions around the Club about a lack of discipline in the field shown by some of the junior teams – fielders wandering out of position between deliveries, not paying attention to the captain when he wants to make changes to the field, even directly questioning and countermanding the captain’s instructions.
There is an issue of etiquette, and acceptable behaviour – it’s simply not cricket to challenge the skipper…and don’t you dare move one of my fielders!
There is a question about experience, and coaching – coaches and team managers need to make very clear what is expected from the players.
There might even be questions about Generation Z entitlement – ‘my opinion is just as informed as yours’.
But there is also the matter of example – I have seen similar behaviour in senior cricket this year, with two or three players (none of them the captain or bowler) resetting the field between balls, even as the bowler is preparing to bowl.
If the U15s see this on Saturday, with adult Captains & players, of course they will do the same on Sundays playing with their peers.
I am sure that one contributing factor to this restlessness is the rise of T20 cricket, and that players today are more likely to watch T20 on TV than any other format.
And watching T20, especially the IPL and other franchise T20 tournaments, players will see almost ball-by-ball changes, with fielders called up into the ring, others sent back to the boundary, then swapped again and again.
What is not understood is that the tinkering at this level will be (mostly) proactive, not reactive.
- To support a bowler’s strategy e.g. setting a field that allows the bowler to use a slower ball, or a yorker, or a switch of length (or, indeed, a bluff to suggest a slower ball is about to be delivered).
- As part of an agreed plan to combat the strengths and/or target weaknesses of the batsman on strike.
- It just might be in response to a batter’s preferred scoring area…but if that is 10 rows back in the crowd, there’s no field that can be set, and the bowler and captain need to come up with a field that will catch the mishits if one can be induced.
It won’t (should not) be to plug a gap in the field after a poor (or unplanned) delivery has been bowled.; it really shouldn’t be to follow one scoring stroke…unless it is to attack that stroke.
Many’s the time I have lost a slip because one ball has been hit through mid-wicket; funnily enough, I never got the slip back when the next delivery went past the outside edge…
It’s an old adage, but still true – you cannot set a field for bad bowling. Still less can you set a field for one bad ball.