Some Bloke Called Dave
To be honest, I'm usually the same - let the captain set the fields. But when I play in the 5th XI the captain's probably a lot more amenable to the bowlers setting their fields, but I never take him up on the offer and if I do it's a pretty standard in out field. But in the last few months I've had Warne's words in my ears, can't remember where I heard it, but he said... as the captain you want to be asking your bowlers "How you going to get me a wicket champ?" inferring that there should be a definite plan.One thing I might do is to ask the captain to field at slip, he's a top fielder and some chances have gone begging in that area. I want someone ninja in there.
How I think about fielding is I basically want the best catchers in areas where chances are created, that's behind the wicket, cover and mid on/mid off or long on/long off for the big alpha flashy drivers.
I know bowlers with far more experience than me look at things such as the stance of the bowler, how high that hold the bat, whether they keep their head still and all sorts. I'm nowhere near that switched on, but I do watch the bats when they face the bloke at the other end, whether they look confident coming out of their ground, the range of shots they play, whether it looks as though they're stronger leg-side or off-side - basic stuff.
I've always said it, but I get the sense that at club level there are a lot of blokes who fancy themselves against spinners especially leg-side. Thinking about Warne's 'How you going to get me a wicket' question I then questioned my long term approach of bowling on or around off-stump, looking for edges and catches on the off-side. I have a mate who bowls in the same league as me and we've played in the same team and bowled in tandem. He always said of me that I was far more accurate than him, yet he took far more wickets than me. I then concluded this was simply because he bowled leg-side - attacking the stumps?
Pitching the ball legside has always been an accident when I'm bowling and it's usually put away in part because the fields not set for it. I thought about whether it might bring me more wickets and started to conclude that it might? I was then encouraged further by re-reading about the blind spot that we all suffer from that can affect perception of where the ball is coming into the batter from outside leg. So last winter I started to bowl completely new lines outside leg and tried bowling against far better batters. It worked. So in answer to the Warne question, I'd come back with... (1) Bowled: (2). Stumped: (3) Caught on the leg-side by mis-hit balls, bowling into the stumps means that the batter has to play the ball. My old outside off approach meant that much of the time they could leave the ball and play off the back foot quite easily. Over the duration of winter nets picthing the ball on or around legstump mixing leg-breaks with Flippers, I observed that I wasn't being hit much at all straight and if the ball strayed to middle or wider to the off-side - cut shots were used. Bowling into the legs, I then found that the bats were cursing a lot of the time when trying to be aggressive as they perceived the shot would have been caught.
I then worked on figuring out a field that would support this approach based on the fact that scoring shots seemed to be primarily through the leg-side, but seemingly high-risk? I've not deployed it in a game this season, but have used it in the nets. So, what I do is go into the nets and show the batters a diagram of the field setting and leave it with them and say - 'That's the field - you tell me how many runs you make and whether you're caught. Again, I try and bowl at the better batters and oh my God does it work well! The last time in the nets I bowled at two batters first and 2nd XI players, a good solid bat and the other bloke an aggressive big hitting batter. The more correct of the two looked at the field and took it on-board and had every intention of staying in. He faced about 4 overs from me and was out 3 times, first time within about 9 balls. He said of the idea of taking the field diagram and showing it to him was superb as it made him play like he was in a game rather than just hitting the ball with no potential consequences. The other really aggressive bloke took more balls before he conceded I'd got him and scored a few potential boundaries, it took me about 12 balls to get him for around 14 runs. He was gutted and I then got him a couple more times over the 20 mins he was in the net.
I've just remembered reading about Grimmett, he said that he never went to nets when he played in the Aussie team primarily because he didn't like Bradman who he played with in the Sheffield shield games on the opposing side. His rationale was he didn't want Bradman to figure him out or get the edge over him. I've used this idea of taking my field diagram into nets for a couple of months now and it brings the batters down to earth a bit, in fact a lot and makes bowling in the nets a lot more fun and productive, whereas normally I find it slightly demoralising. I've potentially got 1 more game if I get picked on the 11th - I might try and put these theories into practice if I get the opportunity.