“Edged and taken at first slip” – How many times have we heard commentators on air during a cricket match scream out this statement! Caught at gully, caught at cover, fielded at backward point are some of the common phrases we have been accustomed to hearing ever since we started watching cricket.
It is no secret that cricket is the most followed sport in India, and with that, online fantasy cricket has taken a firm grip on the consciousness of the Indian public too. You might not remember what you ate in the morning, but talk about any fielding position on a cricket field, and you can figure it out with your eyes closed.
But have you ever wondered from where have most of these fielding positions derived their names from? Here, we will elaborate on 12 such lesser-known facts about cricket fielding positions that every fantasy player should know.
As the name suggests, slips are in place for when the batsman “slips” up or commits a mistake. Slips, traditionally 1st, 2nd and 3rd, stand to the right of the wicket-keeper (for a right-handed batsman) in a bid to snaffle up any chance presented by the batsman. There are different types of slips as well, fly slip – which generally stands at the edge of the 30-yard circle, and leg slip.
A gully similar to slips is named accordingly. Derived from its literal meaning, which is a narrow channel or a gorge, a gully is generally employed to plug the gap between slips and point. It serves as both a run-saving position and a catching position. Though it is seen lesser in limited-overs cricket, this particular fielding position is almost a must in Test cricket.
Mid-off and Mid-on:
Mid-off and Mid-on are midway positions from the fence to the bowler’s left and right, respectively. The terms mid-off and mid-on are derived from ‘middle wicket off’ and ‘middle wicket on,’ which is what these positions were known in the earlier days. The area is more of an attacking one and is critical, especially in the game’s longest format.
Point, also known as ‘Jonty’s corner,’ was a fielding position that Jonty Rhodes, arguably the greatest fielder ever to play the game, made his own. The best fielder of a team generally mans that zone as the ball travels rather quickly off the face of the bat, and chances of running out a batsman are also high. It is both a catching and an attacking site. The position got its name from the phrase ‘near the point of the bat.’ In earlier days, fielders at this position used to be much closer to the batsman in comparison to now, where they stand almost on the edge of the circle.
Don’t worry, this is not an area where the fielders feed a cow; it is a position between deep midwicket and wide long-on. It remains unclear how this name came into being, and over the years various theories have floated about surrounding the origin of this name. One popular notion is that not many cricketing shots can be hit in that region, which is why even cows can safely graze there.
Long Stop and Straight Hit:
Have you ever been called for a no-ball while playing gully cricket because one of your team’s fielders is standing straight in line with the stumps? Well, the next time you see that umpire, correct him because it is entirely a legitimate fielding spot. A long stop is a fielding position that is employed straight behind in line with the wicket-keeper. A straight hit, on the other hand, is behind the bowler between long-off and long-on.
The name of this fielding position is akin to its name; it really is silly. This is because the fielder stands in such proximity to the batsmen that he is indeed taking it to silly proportions. It is a position on the offside, slightly square of the batsman but very close to him.
The term square leg is coined for a fielder who stands at 90 degrees or perpendicular to the pitch on the leg side. The position is in place square on the leg side quite close to the leg umpire. There are different variations in this position, such as deep backward square leg, in which a fielder is stationed back on the boundary, and short leg, wherein the fielder stands very close to the batter on the leg side.
It remains unclear how this name came into existence but in the early days, there was a gap between third slip and gully, and the ball often used to sneak past, costing the team additional runs. This was when the captains decided to put in a fielder deep on the offside between third slip and gully, which came to be known as third man. It is a position that is generally defensive in nature, in place to stem the flow of runs.
Some of the names given to fielding positions are strange, aren’t they? Like the position, sweeper cover isn’t one where the fielder is sweeping. This position is named because the fielder needs to cover a lot of ground either side of him deep on the offside, almost in line with point, which is generally correlated to sweeping the whole area.
The wicket-keeper is probably one of the most if not the most important fielding positions on a cricket field. As the name suggests, he stands behind the wickets and is responsible for taking hold of any edges off the bat. It is a specialist position, and because the ‘keeper has the view of the entire ground, he also sets the field.
The long leg is positioned deep on the leg side at about a 60-degree angle to the batsman. The fielder here is midway between square leg and fine leg in what is generally a long part of the boundary on most grounds.
Now that you know some interesting facts about cricket fielding positions, Download Fantasy Cricket App from MPL and start playing fantasy cricket!