Cricket is a sport always played with 13 members in the park during the game duration (this includes the two batters but not the two umpires who officiate the contest). It is a team game that requires a lot of mental toughness apart from physically testing the individual’s limit.
So, cricket is well, and truly a strategic sport that requires sharp decision-making moves on the field by either team but more so by the side that is fielding. The fielding team must not only make the changes with respect to the bowlers but also must keep a tab on the field placement. He/She should ensure the right fielding position is set at different phases of their bowling effort and to the different batters.
There are fielding restrictions in the limited overs regarding the number of fielders that can stand outside the 30-yard circle at the stipulated time (2 outside during powerplays and 4 or 5 outside the circle during the non-powerplay overs). When it comes to Test cricket, there are no such restrictions as a fielding team can stand up to the maximum nine available players outside the circle. But the number of fielders on the leg side should not be more than five at any point in time.
We now know about the fielding restrictions, but do we know the different fielding positions a fielder can stand? Today in this article, we will get to the various cricket fielding positions by its name and a short description of each.
So, a cricket field is generally oval, with two halves: off-side & leg-side. The halves are interchanged based on whether the batter is a right-hander or a leftie. There are almost 32 different general positions in cricket, but only nine active fielding positions will be in place for a particular delivery (the wicket-keeping position remains a constant).
Here is a comprehensive list of fielding positions in common use in the modern game of cricket as follows:
Wicketkeeper, The Slips (Traditional slip and a much closer Fly Slip), Leg Slip, Leg Gully, Gully, Silly Point, Point, Silly Mid-off, Cover, Short Leg, Silly Mid-on, Point, Backward Point, Mid-off, Square Leg, Backward Square Leg, Mid-wicket, Fine Leg, Third Man, Deep Point, Deep Backward Point, Long Off, Deep Extra Cover, Long on, Deep fine leg, Long Leg, Deep Cover, Sweeper, Long leg, Cow Corner, Long Stop, Extra Cover
If we notice, many of those positions are prefixed with the terms silly, short, mid, deep, or long. The name of the position varies depending on the proximity of the distance that a fielder stands with respect to that of the batter. To explain with an example, for a fielder placed at a silly point, point, or deep point, their position to the angle of the wicket will be the same, but the distance will be adjusted in each of these cases. The silly point fielder is much closer to the bat, while the deep-point fielder will be closer to the boundary ropes, farther away from the 30-yard circle.
Let’s have a brief explanation to each of the fielding positions in Cricket
As mentioned earlier, this is the constant and the most significant fielding position. There is only one designated keeper in the team, and they will always stand behind the stumps (up to the stumps for the spinners and sometimes for medium pacers and a few steps backward for a pacer).
This is one of the most important catching positions in Test cricket and, at times, in limited-overs cricket, especially when the new ball is employed. There can be a first slip, second slip, third slip, and a 4th slip, and their positions depend on where the wicketkeeper stands. A 1st slip fielder stands diagonally backward to the keeper, while the 2nd slip will be much closer to the batsman in terms of distance, and the 3rd will be closer than the 2nd slip. So, as the slip fielders increase, their relative distance with respect to the batsman decreases.
This position is just placed next to the last slip fielder. He/she will be standing the front of the slip diagonally; in short, it can be described as a continuation of the slip.
This is the exact opposite of the traditional and usual slip field. The fielder is positioned on the batsman’s leg side, and it is not regular that a skipper of a team employs this fielder in the game. But this fielder comes in handy when a short-ball ploy is targeted on his pads or when a batsman is targeted.
Not a traditional slip position, but he is a fielder who is further away from the wicket but inside the 30-yard circle. It is quite a newfound field setup.
This position is quite similar to the leg slip position, except for the fact that it will be on the batsman’s leg side. It is not a common field setup like the leg slip.
It is an attacking fielding position close to that of the batter in the offside, usually employed by the captains in Test cricket, especially when the spinner is bowling. The fielder stands right under the nose of the batsman just 3-5 yards away.
It is quite like the silly point where the fielder stands closer to the proximity of the batter on the off side but is fairly straighter and towards the mid-off region.
The fielder will be the same as the Silly Point fielder but on the leg side of the batsman. This type of field is frequently employed for spinners, but they will often stand a yard or two back when pacers are bowling.
Essentially the same fielding setup as silly mid-off but on the leg side.
One of the important fielding positions in the game of cricket and a crucial run-saving one. It is on the batsman’s offside just to the square of the wicket.
The fielding position is similar to the point, except that the fielder is somewhat square to the wicket on the offside. It is a high run-scoring area, especially in the powerplays and Test matches. So the best fielder of the team often stands here.
Arguably, the highest run-scoring region in cricket is through this corridor of Cover, be it in any format. A team has its best three fielders across the Cover, point, and backward point. It is on the offside between the point and the mid-off region.
A fielding position on the offside, between the Cover and mid-off.
This is located on the offside, as the name suggests, and the fielder is just wider to the straight of the bowler. This is a traditional field set up in all the formats of the game.
On the offside of the field, the long off position is just wide to the straight of the wicket. It’s also on the edge of the boundary and is a very important fielding range in the game of cricket.
Essentially the same as the mid-off except that the fielder is at the leg side of the batter.
Very similar to the long off except that the fielder will be positioned on the boundary of the on-side.
It is a boundary-saving position on the leg side of the batter, much like the Cover. The fielding position is close to the region where the leg umpire stands, and the fielder will be closer to the 30-yard circle.
Backward Square Leg
As the name suggests, the field is backward to the wicket, so the region is located on the leg side. The only difference that is quite similar to the square leg is that the fielder stands much farther from the batsman.
Located in front of the square on the batsman’s leg side. The fielder at mid-wicket should be on the 30-yard circle edge, near enough to stop the single.
This fielding position is located behind the square on the leg side of the field. The fielder will be located on the inner circle at a near 45-degree angle with respect to the batter.
Deep Fine Leg
This will be an extension of the Fine leg as the fielder will be positioned near the boundary ropes behind the square.
This is a fielding location that is almost in the 45-degree angle to that of the batter and is run-saving and a position where plenty of catches come. A Third man will be placed near the boundary ropes behind the square of the batsman.
Located on the offside, this fielding position refers to the spot near boundary ropes exactly square to the wicket.
Deep backward point
A position similar to the deep point located on the boundary just behind the square.
Deep Extra Cover
Additional cover position near the boundary that is somewhat ahead of the square than the deep cover position.
The deep Cover is another crucial boundary-saving and catching position on the offside of the wicket, right in front of the square.
A fielding position is quite the same as the fine leg, but the fielder here will be much more squarer to the wicket on the boundary.
This is a modern fielding position where the fielder is stationed at the point region but close to the boundary ropes.
A key fielding position on the boundary lines between the deep mid-wicket and the long-on region. This region is prone to see a lot of sixes and, simultaneously, a place where many catches come.
The fielding location currently not used often is the long stop, which is exactly behind the position of the wicketkeeper and is closer to the boundary ropes.
We have seen almost all the known fielding locations in this article, which shows how complex game cricket is. A captain has to think through a lot while setting up fields, especially at crucial junctures of the game.