No slip catch is ever simple because the ball builds momentum as it swings towards the cordon. So, what does it take to be a high-quality slip fielder?
Without a doubt, intense concentration is essential, but so is good technique. Excellent hand-eye coordination, soft hands, and balanced feet that allow for effective lateral movement are also important. Above all, a calm but alert mind is essential.
Slip fielders, like every other fielding position in cricket, must be specialists. To become a specialist slip fielder, one must be cool and composed under pressure.
Fielding in the slips allows one to keep a close eye on the game’s progress, which is why captains are frequently seen standing in the slip cordon. Now, let’s take a look at the top ten slip fielders of all time in cricket.
10. Mahela Jayawardene
The former Sri Lanka captain was an outstanding slip fielder. Jayawardene, who mostly fielded in the first or second slip, has the second-most catches (205) for a non-keeper in Tests and the highest catches (218) in ODIs.
In the slips, he demonstrated incredible concentration and talent. He also marshalled his soldiers well, keeping a tight eye on the proceedings as Sri Lanka’s captain for many years.
9. Andrew Strauss
Andrew Strauss was a successful captain of England as well as a top opening batsman. But his slip-fielding was also excellent.
Fielding at second slip and first slip (after becoming captain), he was determined to take practically every opportunity that came his way. He’s also put on some blinders in the slip cordon.
During the 2005 Ashes, one such blinder was used to dismiss the dangerous Adam Gilchrist. Strauss flew across the second slip to snag a thick outside edge that soared towards the vacant third slip region.
8. Carl Hooper
It’s critical to stay cool and composed in the slips, and the West Indies had one of the coolest slips fielders in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was unconcerned by any occasion or bowler and used to go about his work in the cordon with little fuss.
Fielding in the slips against bowlers like Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh is never easy; Hooper did it virtually his whole career and remained undetected. Hooper is the third-most successful West Indian fielder in Tests, with 115 catches.
7. Mohammad Azharuddin
The former Indian captain is one of those players who can field from wherever on the field and be effective. His catching style was superb, and he was quite agile on the field.
Azhar never made a fuss about anything in the field, whether it was diving catches on either side, low catches, or straight-forward ones. He used to be a role model for the rest of the fielders. He took 105 catches in Tests and 156 catches in ODIs, making him one of the top fielders in the world.
6. Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor was regarded as an all-rounder — a brilliant opening batsman, a quick slip fielder, and an excellent skipper. He was regarded as one of the top slip fielders of his generation.
Standing in the slips for Shane Warne is a difficult task. Taylor, on the other hand, positioned himself in the cordon when Warne and Australia were at their best, and he took some spectacular catches.
He always appeared relaxed and never appeared to be under pressure, and as a result, he grabbed 157 catches throughout his 104-match Test career.
5. Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith was a prolific slip catcher for South Africa and the game’s longest-serving Test captain. In the slip cordon, he made a formidable duo with Kallis.
Smith, who is well-built and powerful, utilised his huge hands to great advantage, pouching 169 catches in 117 Tests and 105 catches in 197 ODIs. He was sharp in the field against Pollock, Ntini, Steyn, and Morne Morkel.
4. Stephen Fleming
Stephen Fleming was not only New Zealand’s most successful captain and one of the best batters, but he was also their most successful fielder in both Tests and ODIs. His fielding abilities included soft hands and strong hand-eye coordination. He was a tall man with excellent hands.
He is rated eighth in Tests and seventh in ODIs for the most catches taken by non-keepers (171 in Tests and 133 in ODIs). He was one of the most reliable fielders of his day.
3. Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting, statistically the greatest captain of all time, has also taken the fourth and second-highest number of catches in Tests and ODIs, respectively (196 in Tests and 160 in ODIs). Ponting is easily the most successful fielder to have played for Australia (in terms of catches), with 364 catches across all formats.
He was a tough player who established high standards on the field. His signature positions were second slip in tests and backward point in limited-overs. It was quite tough to get around Ponting, especially when he was in the slips. As a result, he is unquestionably one of the game’s top slip fielders.
2. Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid is regarded as one of the game’s most traditional players. He emanated class in everything he did, whether batting, keeping, or fielding. Slip fielding was not a difficult chore for him because he used to keep wickets.
Nonetheless, the way he fielded in the slip cordon was entertaining to watch. He had quick reflexes and was very focused. His achievements in the slips are impressive.
He has the most catches by a non-keeper in Test history, with 210. He is one of seven players with over 300 catches in all forms of cricket.
1. Mark Waugh
The best slip fielder of all time has to be Mark Waugh, the younger of the Waugh twins. He used to make slip catching appear insanely easy. Graham Gooch referred to him as ‘the finest natural catcher‘.
Nothing could get past the younger Waugh because he was so precise and focused. Throughout his career, his place in the slips never altered. He completed a strong slip cordon with Mark Taylor, Shane Warne, and Ricky Ponting.
Waugh had 181 catches in 128 Test matches. It wasn’t so much about the number of catches he took; rather, it was the number of catches that went down or beyond him. He didn’t drop much.
The only time he dropped a catch was in his final Test series against Pakistan when he dropped three in a row. Aside from that, you’d never see him drop a catch, making him the greatest slip fielder in cricket history.