24 June 2007

Fielding all important in Twenty20

On Friday night I had a ticket to go to the Surrey v Middlesex Twenty20 game at the Oval. After a late meeting I got there with Surrey in trouble, roughly 50-3 chasing 164 to win. But Ramprakash and Jon Batty put together an excellent partnership and somehow you always had the feeling that Surrey would pull themselves out of the tough situation they'd got themselves into. What I found interesting was the reporting of the match (or at least the online reports), which failed to mention the fielding in the penultimate over that gifted the game to Surrey.

With 15 required off 9 balls Ramprakash played the ball down to long-off for a regulation single. Mahmood at the other end is an excellent player but wasn't set like Ramprakash and 14 off 8 would have been a tough ask. But the Middlesex player at long-off inexplicably missed the ball allowing it to roll past him for four. With Ramprakash back on strike the next ball was a full toss on leg stump which was duly dispatched. 7 required off 7 and Surrey hot favourites. The last ball off Ben Hutton's over was sliced to backward point in the air only for Tim Murtagh to drop the catch and allow Ramprakash a single so he was on strike for the final over. With one a ball needed Ramprakash needed only 2 balls, hitting a four and a six to complete the match. You can view the match report here.

I've looked at all the online reports I can find and no-one has mentioned the misfield at long off off the 4th ball of the penultimate over, so the identity of the fielder will remain a mystery. And most reports don't mention the dropped catch off the last ball of the penultimate over either! I'm not sure if this is a result of poor reporting, a wish to focus on the positives, or a lack of appreciation for just how vital fielding has become in Twenty20s and ODIs.

Having been rained off in the game I was playing in on Saturday, I watched the final few overs of the Lancashire v Nottinghamshire Twenty20. Similar to Surrey, Notts had one player well set, Samit Patel, who offered a simple chance to Stuart Law at extra cover which was spurned. Notts went on to win the game with 3 balls to spare...but it would have been interesting to see how the game would have turned out if Law, who is normally reliable, had caught Patel. The match report can be seen here (without a mention of the Stuart Law drop!).

It's not going to be long before fielder's have catch percentages and misfield or direct hit statistics which, being the sad man I am, I'm looking forward to. Perhaps then fielding will truly gain it's place as an equal next to bowling and batting - I can't help feeling that those that talk about the importance of fielding at the moment are simply paying it lip service.

1 comment:

Peter Lamb said...

Yes, fielding is vital in real cricket too, ie test matches as opposed to twenty-twenty slogs. After all poor fielding turned an ordinary West Indies team into a very weak one. However, the press did report most of the more gross test match lapses.
I think the lack of detailed reports on the twenty-twenty is probably down to a perceived desire for instant gratification: the result is all that matters and whilst effective (but not necessarily good) batting may be reported because it directly influences the result, bad batting will not. Neither good nor bad bowling and fielding is seen by the majority of those who watch twenty-twenty as directly affecting the result; connoisseurs of proper cricket know better.