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The mysteries of cricket revealed: Part two

Rob Stares

Does the thought of standing at silly mid-on leave you stumped? Read our guide to learn more

Cricket explained
England legend Swanny makes an impression on the field.

AFTER mastering the basics of how to play the sport last week, we’re going into more detail about what the bowlers do. Admittedly, it doesn’t sound that exciting, but just wait until you hear some of the names they use for different kinds of throws…

Isn’t fielding just a fancy name for standing around waiting to catch a ball?

Technically, yes – but there is a bit more to it than that. As we mentioned last week, bowlers typically have two styles of bowling: throwing it as fast as they can or putting a lot of spin on the ball to confuse the batsman.

They type of bowler will decide where the captain gets his fielders to stand in the field of play. Another factor will be whether the batsman is left or right handed and if they’re looking to aggressively score runs or play for a draw. 

If the bowler is a spin bowler, the captain will commonly make more of his players stand nearer the batsman. As the batsman is more likely to mishit a spinning ball, the fielders stand close by and try to catch any balls that fly straight up into the air.

If a fast bowler is bowling the captain is more likely to move his fielders further out. They may also look to put a few players in the slips* near the wicket-keeper in the hope the ball will hit the edge of the bat and provide a catch.

*Slips? Is that another one of those ridiculous cricket terms?

Yes, it is. There are so many places a fielder can stand, it’s probably best to show you a picture with the main positions highlighted. It’s pretty detailed, but here goes:

Cricket explained
Common fielding positions when facing a right-handed batsman. Source: Wikipedia. User: Miljoshi

Told you…

If you look at the image like a clock, then the slips are situated at about 10 o’clock. The wicket-keeper is the dark red dot at 12 o’clock. The fielders who would be looking to catch a ball from a spin-bowler are at ‘Short’, or at ‘Silly point’, ‘Silly mid-off’ and ‘Silly mid-on’.

It’s pretty easy to understand why they’re called ‘Silly’ places – you’d have to be an idiot to stand that close to a person hitting a hard ball with a wooden bat!

What’s a wicket keeper? Sounds like a character from Lord of the Rings!

Although the wicket keeper may have a thing for dressing up as a hobbit in his or her spare time, their job is to crouch behind the wicket where the batsman is standing and try to catch them out.

The wicket keeper wears a special pair of gloves with webbing between the thumb and the index finger to keep hold of fast balls. Although they may look quite padded, they’re don’t provide a huge amount of protection.

Wicket-keepers are also allowed to wear a helmet, leg pads and a box to stop them from getting hurt. When you’re facing a cricket ball travelling at nearly 100mph you want all the padding you can get…

Wait a second – what’s a box? Like a cardboard box?

A box is “a protector of a gentleman’s private parts”. Moving swiftly on…


Argh! This is why you should wear a box... Picture: Nic Readhead

As we’ve already discussed the fielding team has a bowler in its ranks to try and dismiss the batsman – in fact, they’ll commonly have four or five. Each bowler will have a slightly different style, ranging from spinning the ball to all-out-power.

There’s a whole list of categories for bowlers, but we won’t deal with that as it’ll bore you to tears. The main things you need to know is that a bowler gets six attempts to get the batsman out before the end of their over.

Erm, what’s an over?

An over is the amount of deliveries a bowler gets to try and get the batsman out. After six ‘throws’, the umpire shouts “Over!” and it’s time for another bowler to try from the other end of the wicket. The batsmen stay where they are, meaning that the person who wasn’t being bowled at in the last over is now given the chance to score some runs.

What other silly words do they use in bowling and fielding?

There are loads of silly words. Bowling techniques include the Googly, the Yorker and the Flipper. Then you’ve got the fielding positions of Leg Gully and Long Leg – not to mention Fly Slip. We’ll leave it up to you whether you want to look into their meanings or not!

Coming up next week: Bats, balls and afternoon tea!

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