If ODI cricket is a sumptuous meal, T20 cricket is like fast food. Maybe this is the reason behind many cricket fans of present day getting attracted towards T20 cricket. And with the much awaited ICC T20 World Cup to commence in a very few days from now, the upcoming twenty days are like a food festival for the T20 cricket fans. In this format of game, fielding is as prominent as batting and bowling. Mainly in the events like World Cup, fielding plays a key role in deciding the champion of the game.
In the finals of the 1983 ODI World Cup that was won by India, Kapil Dev took a magnificent catch to dismiss Viv Richards. And it is believed even today that the catch taken by Kapil Dev that day had helped India to emerge as World Champions in cricket. The present day cricket fans may not find that catch very exciting, but in those days, that was considered an excellent piece of fielding. In the olden days, cricketers never tried to stop the ball hit by a batsman by diving. In addition, they used to appreciate the good shots played by batsmen by applauding.
But after the entry of South Africa into the international cricket, the definition of fielding in cricket changed forever.The teams discovered that fielding too plays a key role along with batting and bowling. The magical fielding of the former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes in the 1992 ODI World Cup made the teams realise the importance of fielding. Rhodes emerged as a superman after the match between Pakistan and South Africa at Brisbane in the 1992 ODI World Cup. He ran out Inzamam in a fraction of second by jumping over the wickets running from the backward point. In those days, nobody even thought such a run out was possible. That is the reason why people talk about that incident even in today’s cricket.
After learning the importance of fielding from South Africa, many teams brought it into their training schedules.Teams like England, Australia, New Zealand started improving their fielding department. Sub-continental teams were still unable to achieve those standards. But after the debut of cricketers like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif in the Indian Cricket team, the team really looked like a good fielding side.
In general, the word fielding mainly talks about the positions gully and point. It is very important for every team to have good fielders in these positions. Two better fielders in a side can reduce the runs conceded by the team by about 20 to 30. The present day cricketers have been performing many experiments in the field like taking a catch near the boundary line and if they could not balance themselves,throw it in the air and catch it again. Two fielders chasing the ball, one stops the ball diving and then gives it to the other to throw it to the wickets. This has been a very common sight these days. Ten years ago, no one would have thought about this type of fielding. Two quick fielders inside the circle can stop the batsmen from stealing singles and doubles.
In the upcoming World Cup, Yuvraj, Kohli and Raina are the players to keep an eye on. The Hussey brothers from Australia, Paul Collingwood and Tim Bresnan from England, Ross Taylor and Williamson from New Zealand can influence the result of the game by their quick throws and catches. The way bowling and batting departments have some specialist players, there are specialists in fielding positions too. Players like Kallis, Dravid, Ponting are specialist slip fielders. Yuvraj and Collingwood are experts at point. On a whole, a team with good fielding abilities has an advantage over others in this World Cup.
Let us wait and see who is going to the Jonty of this World Cup.