The cricket ground can be divided into two parts. These two parts are split based on the manner in which the batsman is standing. In case of a right-handed batsman, the part of the ground towards the batsman’s bat is called the off-side. The part of the ground towards the batsman’s legs is called the on-side or the leg-side. The entire scenario would be vice versa for the left-handed batsman.
The cricket ground also has a circle that is 30 yards away from the pitch. This 30 yard circle is a key factor in positioning the fielders which we will see soon. The names of the fielding positions are based primarily on the distance from the pitch where the fielder is standing, his spot in relation to the 30 yard circle and whether he is placed at the on-side or the off-side. Let us have a look at the most important and basic fielding positions.
Wicket-keeper: Quite literally, the man assigned the role of a wicketkeeper, keeps the wickets. He is responsible for collecting the ball bowled by the bowler and catching it in case a wicket is expected. The wicket-keeper ensures that any ball left or edged by the batsman does not reach the boundary.
Slip cordon: Towards the wicket-keeper’s right lies the slip cordon. This cordon can consists of three slips and in some cases a fourth slip or a gully. These fielders are usually placed at the start of the match when the ball shines and swings in the initial overs. A pace bowler benefits from these fielders should a batsman nick a swinging ball. The fielder immediately on the right of the keeper is the first slip, who is placed a few steps behind the keeper. In line but at a little arc from the keeper and towards the right of the first slip lies the second slip. Accordingly, third and fourth slips are placed.
Point: This fielder lies on the off-side on the rim of the 30 yard circle nearly horizontal to the batsman.
Cover: This fielder lies on the off-side towards the right of the man at point on the 30-yard circle.
Mid-off: This fielder is placed within the 30 yard circle at a much straighter angle from the batsman on the off-side.
Extra Cover: This fielder is placed between the cover and mid-off.
Mid-on: This fielder is placed within the 30 yard circle at a much straighter angle from the batsman on the leg-side.
Mid-wicket: This fielder is placed within the 30 yard circle and corresponds to the fielder at cover on the leg-side.
Square-leg: This fielder is placed within the 30 yard circle and corresponds to the fielder at point on the leg-side.
Third-man: This fielder is placed on the off-side outside the 30 yard circle at a much more diagonal angle compared to the slips.
Fine-leg: This fielder corresponds to the fielder at third man but on on the leg-side.
Long-on & Long-off: If the mid-on fielder is asked to move back towards the boundary, he is now standing at long-on. Similarly, the mid-off fielder moved straight back to the boundary would then stand at long-off.
The above-mentioned fielding positions are the most basic ones seen in cricket. But they are not the only ones. In order to remember other fielding positions, it is important to know a few prefix words. These words are added to the afore-mentioned basic terms and thus determine the fielding spot. Let us have a look at the examples:
Short: The word short indicates that the fielding spot is within the 30 yard circle. For example, short cover, short mid-wicket. However, this position is not too close to the pitch.
Silly: The word silly indicates that the fielder is standing very near to the pitch. For example, silly point, silly mid-on, silly mid-off, etc. These fielding positions are usually seen when a spinner comes to bowl.
Leg: When the word leg is added, it means that the fielder is positioned on the leg-side but behind the batsman. For example, leg slip, leg gully, etc.
Deep: When the fielder is placed outside the 30 yard circle near the boundary, the word deep is added. For example, deep square-leg, deep mid-wicket, etc.
Clearly, there are more fielding positions than the total players in a team. Hence, the expertise of the captain and his co-ordination with the bowler to setup a field for a batsman plays a crucial role in the match.